Dirty looks toward stay-at-home-moms…REALLY???

stay at home

By Kenneth Justice

~“So this will be the last time I serve you coffee” she said

Yesterday one of the most liked barista’s at the coffee shop I hang out with completed her final day. After five years of working at the coffee shop she decided to give it up to be a stay-at-home mom, “I’m going to keep pursuing my schooling” she said, “Because I’d still like to be a teacher one day

Throughout the morning she greeted numerous customers with the same line, “Today will be the last time I serve you coffee, you’ve been a great customer and I just wanted to personally say goodbye to you

I couldn’t help but notice that each time she would say, “I’m going to be a stay-at-home-mom” a number of the patron’s gave her the raised-eye-brow-look as if to communicate, “Really, you’re just gonna throw your life away then?” ……and each time the barista ran into one of those kind of faces she always made sure to add the extra line, “This will allow me more time to pursue my schooling in order to become a teacher” as if one has to have an excuse for being a stay-at-home-mom (or stay-at-home dad).

Some of my favorite writers, authors, and bloggers are stay-at-home moms & dads so for someone like me it’s a bit annoying to see the typical attitude that so many people in Western Culture continue to display towards parents who decide to drop out of the work force in order to stay at home with their children.

To be honest, even if I didn’t have children; if I could quit working altogether I would do it in a heartbeat! To be able to stay-at-home and write whenever I feel like it, hang out with people, have conversations about life, pursue my hobbies…….it all kind of sounds romantic to me.

So isn’t it a pretty sad state of affairs when other people judge someone based on their decision to not pursue a career? I thought the women’s rights movement was supposed to support women doing whatever they want…….yet too often doesn’t it seem as though Women’s Lib only exists to put pressure on women to pursue politics, the business world and other high-pressure jobs?

Not that anything is wrong with women who decide to pursue white-collar jobs; I totally support them and I’m actually pretty excited that General Motors recently named a woman to be their new CEO! It’s a pretty historic moment for what was previously the world’s largest Corporation.

Maybe I’m wrong but I suspect that one of the problems in the United States is that a lot of people simply don’t know what to do with themselves if they aren’t working at their job. Being at work makes them feel productive, and since so many people don’t have hobbies, artistic interests, etc….they get home and end up zoning out behind the television for hours-on-end. Perhaps that is why so many people judge women and men who decide to stay-at-home with the children; they think it is merely an excuse to watch Oprah and eat chocolate all day.

A number of my friends think I’m a nut to spend as much time as I do writing and publishing articles online. Some of my friends never ask me how my writing is going because I suspect they think it’s a worthless endeavor; yet if I were running for political office, starting a new multi-million dollar business or involved in some other high-profile industry……all of a sudden these people would be pounding on my door to try and be involved in my life…..right?

Recently a fellow blogger/reader emailed me about finding the inspiration to write and publish articles every day. Of course, my response involved much of my typical blather but in the midst of my ramblings I tried to make a simple point; writing matters. For hundreds and hundreds of years it has been writers that have influenced, changed, and improved society. Whether for good or bad; writers influence culture;

—-) Martin Luther’s 95 thesis changed the face of religion in the Western World

—-) Charles Dickens novels championed women’s rights and defended the poor

—-) If not for Karl Marx Communist Manifesto  countries like North Korea, China and the Soviet Union of the 20th century would likely have been entirely different

And just as writing matters……raising our children matters. All of the great men and women throughout the ages had parents. Many of those mothers and fathers were great people……yet we never hear about them.  They are the unsung heroes throughout the ages that raised little children who grew up to be great writers, painters, musicians, politicians, and more.

Being a good parent is something that our culture should cherish and value…..isn’t it?

While writing this article a young woman sat down with me a few minutes ago and I mentioned to her the subject to which she responded, “Well, I’m glad the business men gave her dirty looks because being a stay-at-home mom sucks

Really?” I asked

Perhaps I am simply too disconnected from our culture……perhaps here in the 21st century things have changed and we no longer value parents who stay-at-home with their children. Maybe I really am a loon.

Thankfully they gave me a free coffee this morning…….that always helps

Kenneth

If you haven’t heard I’m currently on a national and worldwide tour of 100 coffee houses. My next stops include Atlanta, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. Click on my homepage for dates and locations; I would love to have coffee with you!



Categories: Culture & Society

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157 replies

  1. ….or maybe you’re among the first to have a new point of view on job and life…. 🙂

  2. Writing matters! Thanks for continuing to do so. You give us a look at our culture that is very helpful, even if it is not always pleasant to do so. We need to see where we have come to as a society over many years. And it is not the way our Lord desires for us.

    Stay at home parenting is also a vital aspect that we have depreciated. Children learn by what they see, and what they are seeing now is not all that good. They have no idea what a real man is supposed to be, or a real woman, or how they are to properly relate to one another. We’ve left all this to day care centers, and it is not good.

    Thanks Kenneth

    • Interesting point about the way our children learn what real ‘men and women’ are…… its true in many ways that our children spend more time now-a-days surrounded by other children as opposed to spending time with parents (and older relatives/friends of the family) to learn what it means to be an adult. Perhaps that is why so many people are noticing (and writing) the way that young adults seem to have less skills when it comes to the art of communication.

    • I agree that stay at home parenting is an important and worthy role, but I have to disagree with your “real man” “real woman” add on to that. I think whichever parent is able to stay home is doing valuable work, and that is not necessarily “women’s work.” I don’t want any daughters I have later to believe their financial future depends on a man, and I don’t want the son I have now to believe that his future hot meals and clean underwear depend on a woman. I want both of them to be contributors to society and their families in whatever way their abilities turn out to be, and be “real adults” 🙂

    • As a disabled SAHD, I really appreciate what you’ve said.

    • Agreeeeee! Couldn’t say it better myself!

  3. No, Sweetie, you’re not a loon. But it took me a couple of years to stop feeling guilty about quitting a job that was making me sick after working all my adult life. That was three years ago this week, and I’m finally free of the “if it doesn’t pay cash, it’s not worth doing” mentality. I was lucky in that the job I did the whole time my son was young allowed me to cram my work in while he was at school. Before that, his dad hung with him while I got it done as fast as I could before he went to work. Not many people have that option. We did because we wanted happiness more than we wanted money and things. It’s a tough way to live in this culture sometimes where it seems the only real sin is running out of money.

    BTW, as a compliant partner in a VERY happy control and compliance marriage, I applaud your understanding that the feminist movement IS about women AND men being allowed to make their own choices. Before I understood that, my own feminism contributed to my guilt over having what I wanted.

    • I’m very pro-women rights….. and I think it sounds like were on the same page that while women’s lib did a lot of good, there is a tendency within the movement to look down on women who want to do what they want, and sometimes women WANT to stay at home……

    • My youngest sister is a self-proclaimed (first wave, I think she said?) feminist and I suspect this will be a topic will discuss in the future. She just had her second child, and while she works, she does a lot of her work at home, and also stay-at-home activities with her first child is VERY important to her.

  4. I hope you don’t mind me sharing, but I wrote a post last week on a similar theme and I’d love to know what you think? I really enjoyed your post

    http://suzie81.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/why-being-a-stay-at-home-parent-is-the-toughest-job-in-the-world-written-by-someone-without-children/

  5. Homemaker is a dirty word apparently.

  6. Bravo. There has been a drift towards child care, subsidised child care, an assumption child care is “the way” as both parents will be working. And, to be very honest, being with your young children is both the best and worst of jobs. Quality of conversation – the lack of – being the thing most miss. Yet “parent” is a title that should mean more than biologically reproducing. As you point out the next generation’s values come from “parenting” rather than child care. Bad and good.

    In the UK the government spearheads this attitude. Yet no one seems to challenge this view. And worse than having no intrinsic value, it also has the perception of “taking rather than contributing” added. Being a stay at home parent is “selfish”. Madness. Illogical. Inhuman.

  7. Thank you for liking my post – WhatsApp Mama. It gave me the chance to read your blog post and I enjoyed reading this article – particularly loved the line – raising our children matters.

  8. I would like to be a stay at home artist, painting and drawing…but my financial advisor, me…, says I can’t….love my work, but love painting much more…:) and I’m not a good ‘salesperson’ or marketer…so I guess I will stay in the ‘work force’…

    • I totally feel ya! I’m stuck in the same boat currently

    • I seem to remember it said that many artists even had a dilemma over doing artistic work that they loved, versus what audience enjoyed and would buy… i.e., sacrificing artistic curiosity and exploration for what would pay the bills.

      It would seem even in the world of art, finances still hold a strong sway.

    • Yes it is, according to me…:), but I guess it is a question of choice, and I don’t think it is cut black and white, you make compromise, like in everything else, for me art is my passion but I do have a job, not a passion but a fairly good one, so it does pay for the bread and butter, at the expense of time for painting.

    • I love your artwork, Jean-Marc. I am following you on Flickr now– my wife and my daughter have talent in the graphic arts as well as photography.

    • Thanks, I just follow you on flickr too, welcome!

  9. My oldest daughter chose to stay home and be with her five children. I admire her for that. My grandchildren will benefit in the long run and economically, it just makes sense. Kudos to the young lady leaving her barista position. May her children be blessed with a loving parent at home and may they enjoy the great coffee!

  10. Kenneth, I have to disagree with the young lady who sat down with you at the last minute. I absolutely loved being a stay at home mom. Originally, I planned to go right back to work but when I saw the options for available childcare at the time, I was horrified. Babies were propped up in front of televisions! I didn’t have a child to warehouse them in someone else’s home while I work.

    Since my husband worked for the church, I had to bring home the bacon…which meant that I had to take in a few other children in order to stay at home. I loved it!

    But, there is a point when children need a more structured and social environment…away from mom. For my daughter, she reached that need at 2 years of age and off she went to Montessori School. During that time I worked part time. I could have easily pursued artistic endeavors, gone back to school, etc. When my daughter got home…I could still be mom.

    I think a lot of creativity has been lost because stay at home parents are a thing of the past. It used to be that children came home from school, played, did homework, etc. (in my case, we had household chores to do). This was also the opportunity for parents to share their knowledge with their children. I learned about cooking, canning, cleaning gardening and sewing from my mother. We made forts, created plays and musicals…we knew all the neighborhood children. Our parents knew each other and this tight knit communication kept everyone in check. You couldn’t get into trouble without everyone knowing about it…so you were less inclined to do things you weren’t supposed to do.

    Now, parents don’t get home until after 5 pm and they have to cook dinner, help their kids with homework, etc. It’s rush, rush, rush. No one has any pura vida time, certainly no time to play with their neighborhood children. If you’re affluent, add to this schedule, tutors, music lessons and special sports activities.

    And people wonder what happened to communicating and interaction…we’ve eliminated them by eliminating the stay at home parent. I often wonder how many of the current social problems would be eliminated if kids could get out of school at a reasonable time and parents could be home to help them…if parents could just BE parents.

    • I planned to go right back to work but when I saw the options for available childcare at the time, I was horrified. Babies were propped up in front of televisions!

      Wow, televisions at day cares? I didn’t know about that.

      For my daughter, she reached that need at 2 years of age and off she went to Montessori School. During that time I worked part time. I could have easily pursued artistic endeavors, gone back to school, etc. When my daughter got home…I could still be mom.”

      I hear a lot of good things about Montessori Schools 🙂

      And people wonder what happened to communicating and interaction…we’ve eliminated them by eliminating the stay at home parent. ”

      Exactly

    • Oh yes, Kenneth. The focus of Sesame Street has changed as such because preschools and daycares go hand and hand, and the creators acknowledge it’s likely the show will be watched there instead of at home. I really did do a double-take when Herry Monster talked about going to preschool/daycare, but apparently that’s been the reality for some time now.

    • That’s Crazy Jak, I had no idea preschools had televisions!

    • Yeah. With my son and his autism, we are particularly sensitive to media (movies and television) because he parrots so much of what he sees on it. Note, he’s in first grade.

      Ironically, we struggled a bit with his preschool teacher’s advice for less, less, less screen time (he started SpEd services in preschool). When a teacher *or* a parent is very strapped for time and resources, it is easy to fall back on it. We try to keep things as structured as we can– for example, he gets computer time with kid-friendly sites only when he gets good marks at school (which includes behavior).

  11. I so dislike those faces. i just happened to have written about that 2 weeks ago as well.
    http://rantingcrow.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/fighting-moms-work/

    It is about the way they look at each other and how they are also follow their decisions according upbringings.
    I wish we would be more open and understanding.how important it is to be there for a child as well.
    some interesting comments were made to

  12. Be careful what you ask for…one time I asked God/The Universe to find a way to allow me to stay at home and write…

    I damn near died (literally)

    I dunno whether one is preferable over the other; they both seem like WORK to me. 🙂

  13. I would suspect many raised eyebrows come from a thought along the lines of “She can afford to be a stay-at-home mother? Must be nice!”

    From all the info I’ve seen, raising a child is quite an expensive endeavour these days. That’s the biggest reason why the expectation for women to focus more on getting back to work has come about, isn’t it?

    • You may be right Jason, its too bad that the cost of living is so high throughout North America that more parents can’t stay home if they so choose

    • Some of it is not just a higher cost of living, I think, but also that our lifestyles cost more.

      I live in a house made in the late ’70s and already we are having to change some things because of modern convenience: we’ll have to upgrade electrical wiring so fridge, microwave is on a dedicated circuit. The garage was converted to a family room, which of course houses all sorts of media devices, including two computers, that were virtually unknown (in the forms that we have them, anyways) in that decade.

      And my wife and I are both on disability and don’t really have access to the mobile devices (tablets, smartphones) that are starting to be considered a given nowadays. I have to explain over and over that I don’t text, and that I don’t use my mobile phone that often (250 mins/month per a subsidy).

  14. Why is it that after reading your articles I have this push to protect the people you write about? I’m beginning to think I couldn’t hang out in a coffee shop for too long for the mere fact I don’t know my way around a fight club. 😉 Best of luck to the barista!!

  15. I guess I have a different perspective. Being a stay-at-home anything kind of sucks, in my opinion. I am forced to stay home a lot due to health reasons, and I really miss the days of being able (and willing) to get out of the house whenever I wanted. If I didn’t work outside the house, I would probably lose my mind. Not that I’m bored, as there is plenty to do (I run an online store on Etsy). But looking at the same four walls day after day gets irritating, after a while.

    • Meg,

      I wonder if the difference in your situation is that it seems like you don’t really have a choice since you are stuck at home because of health problems…. perhaps if you were ‘choosing’ to stay at home it might be different…….

    • It may very well be that. I just can’t imagine choosing not to work, but all situations are different. Certainly the woman in your story wasn’t stuck at home, what with kids and school and such.

    • My wife frequently reminds me that I am happier when I am working– even for jobs I hated, but, we’re both in the same boat as you– we can’t work due to health problems. 100% disability, actually.

      And I wish I could get out more all the time.

  16. My wife is a stay at home mom, after earning her teaching degree and license. I recently interviewed for a job and was asked “What does your wife do?” – and when I told them, I was given a raised eyebrow and an “Oh, wow.” As if such a thing was unheard of this day and age. Its a tougher job than any I’ve ever done, but I agree with you- if I had the opportunity and the leeway to do it, I would. Valuing a personal hand in the raising of your children is nothing to be looked down upon by anyone.

  17. Reblogged this on Dead Citizen's Rights Society.

  18. Sometimes I feel like the priorities are so misplaced. Being able to be a SAH parent should garner just as much respect as those working. I left my career to be a SAHM and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it is hard. It’s a huge sacrifice, but it was a choice. We are doing what we think is best for our family and it doesn’t make sense that I should be viewed as less than. Both working and non-working, is a sacrifice and only you can decide which one you want to make. I love what you said about writing and that it matters!

    • “sacrifice” is a good word for it. I think a lot of people think of being a stay-at-home mom or dad as being an ‘escape’ from the business world but sacrifice is a much more fitting term.

    • Being able to be a SAH parent should garner just as much respect as those working.

      Yes, please! But also acknowledgment. I think I get a decent amount of respect as a SAHD, but I feel pretty invisible at times. My churchmates have done a lot to include me, but in the larger world… oh, how I cringe when I open a parenting magazine and the writing and ads are all to “Mom Mom Mom”.

    • I agree completely! My husband stayed home with our son the first year and I think that was a big part of what made it even harder.

  19. Recently, as I have been reading different blogs and whatnot, the theme really has been ‘Power to the working Mom’s’ – I feel that even though I don’t bring in the $$$ – I do as much work raising my kids as some Mom’s do working in their careers. To me, whether you get paid or not, what you do for a living is a career. My career is taking care of my children – others pursue a different path. I think you put it brilliantly.

  20. Maybe it’s a little payback for the dirty looks stay-at-home moms used to give working women.

  21. Folks just can’t leave well enough alone, can they? I got a dirty look for going back to work after my kids were born. Everyone has an opinion. That barista did not have to justify her decision to anyone.

  22. I don’t see why there is such a negative connotation on stay at home parents! I know my mother likes working, but sometimes at a kid I wanted her to not have to work so she wasn’t so tired all the time. And she also didn’t have much time to do things for herself. She had three kids to raise, a full time job, and not much help from a lazy husband. And I know after I got sick, she regretted not being able to work from home.

  23. Good point Mikels. Our society likes to dictate what is “right” for women

  24. Great points, Kenneth, and they all mattered.

  25. I wish I could be stay-home- mom now. Parenting is a hard and most important job. I’m trying to do it all..parenting, full time job and school..God help me! 😃
    Your writing it’s not just a job, you are gifted parent.
    Ignore the looks and opinions that negative people through at us, because they just live with the guilt for never trying to achieve their goals. Hope the barista becomes a teacher and for sure the best loving mom.

  26. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said people are so into having a job or working because they don’t really know what they want to do with themselves. I think it can also be fear or doing something else or of having the freedom to choose how they spend their time. I wrote a piece recently that touched on this a bit. Why I decided to leave a successful career as a CFO to stay home with my kids and what I was hiding behind in my career. If you are interested in reading it, lmk and I will send you the link.

  27. Great article. I’ve been writing about the Mommy track lately, and it bothers me how many people feel they have the right to judge women for their decisions about kids and working. If you stay home, you get the reaction this woman did. If you continue working, you get “Oh, you must be so sad to be here and not at home!” It is really frustrating, I wish people would accept that what works for any one family isn’t a given to work for any other!

  28. It seems people who aren’t happy are always trying to pull others down to their level. Sad. I think staying home pursuing your dreams is.. well, a dream I would like to pursue.

    As a matter of fact – I guess that IS what I am doing – working from home, trying to get gigs, writing, creating…

    it’s a lot of work, actually.

    Have a great day, Kenneth.

    PS – writing IS important. My father was a writer, and so is my sister, and now, so am I. Sadly, in this world now with people texting all the time – the fine art of spelling correctly and the proper use of your and you’re is fast disappearing.

    • Rhan, right on. I can’t even imagine all it takes to be a musician. I’ve had a number of friends who moved to Nashville to try and ‘make it’ and I think they were a little bit naïve when they first got there, not realizing how much hard work musicians have to put in every day.

  29. Thank you for this. I was a primarily stay at home mom throughout my kids growing up years. I worked part time when I had to in order to make ends meet or when my ex-husband pressured me to do so, but raising my kids was my career and I don’t regret that ever. Even when I felt guilty or looked down on, which I did frequently. I knew in my heart that my kids were more important than anything else and maybe now that they’re grown I feel a bit lost and I don’t have more than an Associates degree, but I also have the pride of seeing my kids becoming awesome adults and I get to think, ‘I did that.’

    • “I knew in my heart that my kids were more important….”

      And that is what matters! Ultimately we have to put aside what others say…. and do what is in our heart to do 🙂

  30. I resonate so much with this, thanks Kenneth!

  31. I think that the reactions to her decision are solely based on that specific persons beliefs and experiences. I have worked pretty steady from the age of 14 until about 4 years ago. I love working because it gives me a chance to break away from the monotony and engage with other people. I often times catch myself referring to my current job as “just” a stay at home mom. It has its ups and downs, advantages and disadvantages. The greatest benefit is knowing that i am instilling values within my children that may not otherwise be given. While i am grateful to do this, it still nags at me that I don’t work outside the home. Just as much as my children need me–I need personal adult interaction.

  32. I am a stay-at-home, self-employed mum with a self-published book 1 of a trilogy that I’m still working on. I may never sell more than twenty copies of my book, but the value of my nearby presence, to my daughter is immeasurable, and unlike most of her friends, I do not have a mother to baby-sit, or many that I trust enough to leave my daughter with outside of school hours. If I’m brutally honest, I have my own raised eyebrow look for people who come across valuing their careers more than their families.

  33. So true… I’m not working right now, but getting to stay at home with my son and home school him… but even my best friend (who really does mean well), knows how much I loved my research job and how much I love learning, asked after she knew my new set up, “So, what’s next?….”

    I think we’re just programmed to think that if you’re talented or love work, why would your life/career away? I love my work, but I love being with my son more. He’s only this age once, I have a lifetime to go back into a career.

  34. Another great post — thanks for writing! The woman I admire the most was a stay-at-home Mom. I can’t imagine how life would have been different without her in my life everyday during all those years.

    Looking forward to the possibility of having coffee with you when you’re in town, which is coming up pretty soon. Cheers!

    • Biltrix,

      Youre in New York? I will be in New Jersey and New York on different weekends toward the end of June 🙂

    • Actually, I’m in Atlanta now. I saw your other page and noticed you’ll be around in less than a month. I hope to make it to one of your two venues.

    • ahh, cool. Yea i’ll be there the first Saturday in March 🙂 hope it works out to meet up. (p.s. I spent years reading Scott Hahn and nearly everything that Neuhaus wrote so I have a deep respect for R.C. theology and philosophy :0) )

  35. we miss our connections..the daily smiles and appreciation. To be at home means..no more bla bla and no one actually gives any tip nor a pat on the back for a good job..so it is materialistically not a very lucrative job..staying at home.You made your family your life..and one day they will go after their lives..and you will see them leave you in the house…that what you made..but walls and windows are not home..and hearts are all gone..to their spouses and family..so why did you sacrifice your ambitions..it seems that each home maker, has a huge task to fulfill and when they do it nicely..it goes without a reward.like a maintenance job..where you get blamed easily and appreciated rarely…
    So..those who felt bad for the girl…did so because it is bad..for her although its good for her family.

    • Women who don’t work for money and feel unappreciated are partnered with the wrong person. I’ve never felt so respected and appreciated as I have in the three years I haven’t worked for money.

  36. Ugh! I agree! I “stay at home” with my kids…which by the way rarely involves staying at home. People always ask me “what do you do all day?” To which I answer…all the things you have to pay other people to do. Why is that when someone is paid to nurture a child in a classroom or daycare, clean a house, cook a meal…it has value…but when you volunteer to do it for free it suddenly seems you have dropped out of society and stopped contributing. Now that my children are in school, I have the time to pursue writing, and I’ve gone back to teaching dance part time, but those children still come first. Those years when they were small and I was in the trenches with them 24/7 were hard, but they went by quickly. I looked up, and I suddenly had school kids where I used to have a toddler and a baby. Life is too short to spend it impressing others. I wouldn’t change those years…but it wasn’t easy!

    • “but when you volunteer to do it for free it suddenly seems you have dropped out of society…”

      That’s an awesome point….and I think I’m gonna start using that angle when I discuss the topic in the future.

  37. I am an attorney who because of illness had to stop practicing law, actually, working all together. After doing so, I realized how much of my identity was tied up in ‘being a lawyer.’ It has taken years to accept that I can no longer practice.

    When people meet, after introductions are made, one of the first questions asked is, “So, what do you do?” Personally, I dread the question. Society expectations are that we are doing something that is deemed to be actively contributing to society and I certainly bought into it. Moreover, our ego also comes into play as we feel more worthy saying “I am a doctor, lawyer, teacher or attending school,” as opposed to “I stay home to be there for my children or home school them or because of illness.”

    Blessings, Lydia

    • When people meet, after introductions are made, one of the first questions asked is, “So, what do you do?” Personally, I dread the question.

      Me too, especially since many guys (many of them churchmates) were never satisfied with how I answered. I am on disability, and they almost always wanted the answer to be about employment, not kids, not writing, not my illness.

  38. EXACTLY, Kenneth. Our world will be much better when people will cease telling others what they should do with their lives. Note that people always ask: “What do you do?” and not “Who are you? What do you like in life?”
    For women the perfect day will be when we will be able to work outside of our homes or inside, be with our children or not. I have been everywhere (out and in) and it feels like for some reason it’s never good enough for the people who give us advice or judgement. The good news is that teens, boys and girls alike (my kids are this age) don’t stick to any designated format. They are so much more open and I trust them 100% to kill stereotypes.
    As for writers, yes, we aren’t taken seriously by people who don’t use words as tools to express feelings and thoughts. It’s okay, keep writing and know that others care about your words.
    Cheers to you and your readers.

    • You’re totally right. It annoys the hell out of me that people are more obsessed with ‘what do you do’ rather than ‘who are you’…. as though ‘what you do for a job’ defines who you are as a person when we know that it really doesn’t… great point.

  39. Wonderful and important points!! Thanks for giving them a voice!

  40. Yes. WRITING MATTERS. It is the “eternal conversation,” where we can be time travelers, conversing with minds through time. Actions may speak louder than words, but WORDS ARE PRETTY DARNED LOUD!!!!! You are an inspiration.

  41. nice post Mr. Monk – and regarding the lady who quit to be a stay at home – well not really… if she quit to go back to school – that is exchanging one part-time job for another endeavor – and sometimes I have seen parents not have employment but are still less available for their kids because they are doing this or that.

    But the happiest women I have seen are usually the ones that work half-time – I know this area well and have counseled women professionally and indirectly (and we all know that sometimes the best advice sharing can happen at cook-outs – outside of sporting events – or sitting for lunch – or coffee!!!) and well, Tarthang Tulku wrote an amazing book called SKILLFUL MEANS and in it – he talks about the value of work and what it does for the essence of the human soul. and I have seen so many women leave jobs because they think staying at home is “all that” – to find that they still need something for them – so I think it depends on the person, their changing needs, and the kind of work they get to do. Also, burnout is very real – and even the best jobs can start to become mundane and many times a change in course is just for FRESHNESS…. hmmmm

    anyhow, you founded a bit Victor Hugo-ish with your writing matters plug – and woo hoo for that.

    • ” Also, burnout is very real – and even the best jobs can start to become mundane and many times a change in course is just for FRESHNESS…. Hmmm”

      Excellent thought. Isn’t the percentage of people who don’t like there job somewhere between 70 -80%? I’m sure many of those people started out liking it… but as you said it can all become mundane

  42. “Really, you’re just gonna throw your life away then?”
    I want to know why people think that it’s throwing your life away. I guess I can understand. I used to have the North-american mind-set that I grew up in. If I wasn’t out working then I wasn’t anybody in society. So sad. I guess society shapes people’s mindsets. It took a lot to change my point of view, but THANK GOD it changed. Too bad that girl felt the need to justify herself. So silly how people despise the personal choices of others.
    I guess kids go to school for most of the day in North America too. In Brazil they’re in school only in the morning or only in the afternoon. I wouldn’t change the chance to mold, shape, teach, influence, nurture, love and care for my kids for the world. If I don’t raise them, someone else will. If I’m not willing to raise them, why have kids in the first place. Unless there is an absolute need for both parents to be working (and I know there often is in north american cities. my sister-in-law works part time and my mom or her mom take care of the kids when that’s the case), wouldn’t it be selfish for both parents to be working all day and allowing someone else to shape who their children will become? Could that possibly be one of the big reasons why children and teenagers are more and more rebellious and disrespectful towards, not only their parents, but people in general? Hmmmmm
    And don’t get me started on women’s lib. I totally here you there when you talk about how it’s suppose to be about women and men doing what they want, but it seems more like a pressure has been put on women to despise what is natural and strive for “the good life”. And those women that do choose to stay at home are frowned upon because of that? I believe I am totally living the good life. I don’t have any grand career. But I’ve learned that the simple things in life are the ones that give the most satisfaction and fulfillment.
    Why is staying at home a “sacrifice”? I consider it a privilege. I am a chef, a nutritionist, a teacher, a nurse, a psychologist, a former of opinions, chauffeur, maker of smiles, and the list goes on.

    ” writing matters. For hundreds and hundreds of years it has been writers that have influenced, changed, and improved society. Whether for good or bad; writers influence culture;”
    Definitely! I am a YWAMer (have you heard of YWAM?) We believe there are seven area of influence in society:

    A = Arts. This includes the areas of painting, drama, mime, sculpture,
    handicrafts, cinema, writing, dance, poetry, sports, music,
    B = Business and Commerce.
    C = Church. This also includes the areas of social service.
    D = Distribution of Media. This includes newspaper, television, journalism,
    internet, radio, magazines.
    E = Education. Seminaries, Colleges, Universities, schools, informal training,
    F = Family. Counseling, Health Care, Medicine, Pre Marital and Post Marital
    Counseling, Child Development
    G = Government. Police, IAS, Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative
    Assembly, Lawyers, Judicial
    ( http://www.ywamsanfrancisco.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/SevenAreasofInfluencebyTim.pdf)

    “Maybe I really am a loon.”
    –Definitely not.

    Blessings to you Kenneth. Great post. Hit my buttons. (can you tell?;-)

    Staci

    • I agree 100% with all you’ve written Staci……i’ve gotten in a number of discussions/arguments lately with a friend over the education in the United States versus the education in Latin America. He’s convinced that education here is so wonderful…. where as I take the opposing view. I prefer the more laid-back attitude toward education in Latin America…. because when it comes right down to it; what does the average high school graduate in the United States really ‘know’ that makes them all that more ‘educated’ than someone from Latin America?????

      Instead, as you pointed out, young adults in North America are much more likely to deal with rebellion and other anti-social issues that kids in Latin America don’t deal with, or at least kids in Latin America are less likely to deal with such issues.

  43. “And just as writing matters……raising our children matters.” Thank you for this! I completely agree with your sentiments about stay-at-home-parents. I hope I’m not repeating myself, but I had a professor who died of a brain tumor. On his death bed he said that he wished he’d spent less time working and more with his girls…

  44. “To be honest, even if I didn’t have children; if I could quit working altogether I would do it in a heartbeat! To be able to stay-at-home and write whenever I feel like it, hang out with people, have conversations about life, pursue my hobbies…….it all kind of sounds romantic to me.”

    This is my dream, to be major writer and not need to work an outside job. I think it is a goal which helps whether a person has children or not. I agree with your post. Writing is relevant and so is raising children.

  45. Having a stay at home parent to provide that solid foundation, that guidance and training, is such an essential, important part of raising children, and sadly is something that many people have not had the benefit of (not to say a well-rounded person can’t come from a working-parent home). I think the attitude of “you’re throwing your life away” so many have towards stay at home parents is really sad, and part of a larger shift in attitudes of modern America, where any role/job that is seen as “traditional” or “blue collar” is looked down upon, because “important” jobs/roles require higher education and are seen as being “progressive”. That attitude really bothers me, on several levels. another great post Kenny! Gets people thinking, and evaluating what their opinion is.

  46. I got laid off about a year and a half ago. My husband and I decided that I should concentrate on painting and see what happens. I have never been happier and more fulfilled. I don’t have any kids so I know people think I’m a looser and lazy but I feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing. Not everyone is supposed to have a 9 to 5 job.

    • Audrey,

      Ya know, Ive enjoyed looking at your art work that you publish, but now after reading your comment just now… I like it even more knowing that you’ve put off the business world for a period of your life to pursue you art work! 😀

  47. Writing DOES matter.

    Being Creative DOES matter.

    ……and of course being a Stay-at-home Mum (Mom to you in the US) DOES matter.

    But seriously, so many parents (I’ll say parents to include the partner) just don’t know how to be a Mum, Dad or Parent. They have absolutely no idea how to interact with babies, toddlers & young adults. Gosh, half of them don’t even cover their babies in the scorching heat and/or the bitter winter winds outdoors. Do they think their youngsters know how to apply sunblock or walk briskly to keep warm?

    And I can’t believe how many parents allow their children to stay indoors (assuming they have a backyard or nearby park) watching TV or playing on the computer, nintendo (or whatever it’s called these days).

    How many Parents kick a football with their sons, hammer a nail, sew a button on, paint a picture or bake a cake with their daughters.

    How many Parents even talk to their children during the evening meal….. about their day, their feelings, their problems, their worries – life in general. How many parents teach, guide and support their children in their dreams and/or endeavours in life.

    On the other side of the story, perhaps people gave this female barista ‘dirty looks’ because they were jealous of her opportunity to spend quality time with her children. Perhaps they were shocked at someone giving up a perfectly good job when there are so many unemployed. I suspect jealousy and shock (at giving up a chance to contribute to the household income) were more the looks (than surprise at someone wanting to be a stay-at-home Mum).

    Or maybe they were annoyed at losing their favourite barista who served perfect coffee and catered to their whims and fancies first thing in the morning. Maybe their favourite barista was the only person to give them a warm welcome and a sunny smile each day.

    Who knows ?

    I’ve been thrown dirty looks more than once in my working life-time – I figured it out one day many years ago. Some people are jealous of my single state, ability to express an opinion openly without censure, set off on travel adventures, be different and live a lifestyle different to their own.

    …….and some people are just so used to criticising every little aspect of their lives and those around them, they don’t know how to be supportive, happy and non-judgmental (for this favourite barista of theirs).

    • “And I can’t believe how many parents allow their children to stay indoors (assuming they have a backyard or nearby park) watching TV or playing on the computer, nintendo (or whatever it’s called these days).”

      I totally agree..it drives me nuts!

      “How many Parents kick a football with their sons, hammer a nail, sew a button on, paint a picture or bake a cake with their daughters”

      Sadly I fear the number of parents who do this is dwindling :*(

      “On the other side of the story, perhaps people gave this female barista ‘dirty looks’ because they were jealous of her opportunity to spend quality time with her children”

      TOTALLY possible! Good point.

  48. I think everyone needs to follow their path – for many, that will be becoming a stay-at-home parent. It is commonplace to see mom or dad at my place of work- some days I am envious, but mostly just admire their ability to entertain a wee one all day long. Thanks for the sidebar on writing – agreed it is necessary, and I need to dedicate more time to it. ~

  49. This is a great article at all levels: i had a daily inspiration email notification that was sent to a ton load of friends and they would comment “love it, great material just meant for me” etc. however when I transferred to blog, many of them refused to subscribe. Can’t fathom folks.

    Additionally when I was in my last semester of an advanced degree, one of the classes had mothers now starting out to pursue their degrees and we had a class meeting which caused me to blow my top when they continually bad mouthed the time they had to spend with family: kids et al. I lost it and let them know my mind. Raising a child and making them into a contributing member of society is a high priority in my book, when your child ends up tormenting instead of assisting society, you look bad as mother and father. So yes I think society doesn’t realize what is important.

    Finally, how do you know those guys giving the barista nasty looks weren’t mad as a result that they losing their “eye candy” period? Men can be individualistic like that:))

    • “Finally, how do you know those guys giving the barista nasty looks weren’t mad as a result that they losing their “eye candy” period?”

      Ha ha…what I love the most about your comment (and I love the first two paragraphs also) is that you naturally assume that a coffee barista is ‘hot’ i.e. ‘eye candy’ 😉 little bit of a stereotype there; no? Ha ha…but for whatever its worth, she was definitely cute..but MARRIED! Lol

    • well both of us made assumptions I am thinking:))

  50. Being the best mom you can be is all that matters. For some that’s having a career. For others it’s being at home. When did it become a competition? Just as your friend was looked down upon for leaving a career, mothers who are going “back to work” after maternity leave are judged just as harshly. Is it any easier for fathers or are they just as critical to each other? Great post – can’t wait to see you when you’re in Atlanta!

    • Molly, your right; your damned if you stay at home, and damned if you go back to work…. so many people in this damn country tend to be so f**ing judgmental for sure. And I look forward to meeting ya!

  51. Great article. As a SAHD for over 13 years I’ve come to realize what a privilege it is for me to do that while my wife earns the money to pay the bills. Parenting does matter. I love my kids and am glad that they are my life’s “work”.

  52. Motherhood is the highest calling! Good for that barista! Give her a hug for me!

  53. SAHM is a very hard career choice. Yes. It’s a career and a damn sight more important one than I have in software. I recently posted on the subject on my blog with a title of “Note to self:Her Job Is Hard”. Yes. Her “job”. That’s what it is and even though I love our 2 year old, I don’t want her job. It’s harder than mine 🙂

  54. it was a blow to my ego when i decided to become a stay-at-home mom & had to be dependent on someone else for money. i had not been dependent on anyone since i was 17, and then all of a sudden i felt i had no identity. i was also a writer & artist, but i had been taught from an early age that those were not real careers either. ( Mother Reader is a good book for the mother/writer by the way.) it’s a difficult decision to become a stay-at-home mom in this society because this society devalues women & devalues motherhood—double whammy! i gave up my income, my social security contributions, my health insurance to become a stay-at-home mom. and like the waitress in your story, i eventually went back to school & now identify myself as a student first, mom second—because society is more accepting of my life path that way.

    • em4minions,

      Great comments, I think you’ve expressed what a lot of stay at home parents feel and go through regarding their decision to stay at home

    • after i wrote it i remembered that the saying i’m a student thing only makes me look better until they ask what i’m majoring in…. “creative writing,” i say–usually with an apology. “with a certificate in art.” if my parents were dead, they’d be rolling over in their graves 🙂

    • Ha ha you are so right. A couple friends of mine majored in creative writing and they always get blank stares from people! But I love literature and writing so I think its cool 🙂

  55. I just loved this article — thank you so much for posting!

    I have a 5 year old, and when he was 3 months old I went back to working full-time, because we really couldn’t afford me not to. (My husband was still in school at the time.) A year and a half ago though, we quit our “normal” jobs, moved out of our big, beautiful house, sold one of our cars, sold almost everything else we owned, and moved to Austria to be missionaries in Vienna.

    My husband teaches at a Christian school here, and when we were packing up/selling everything, and fundraising before we left, the thought was always that’d I’d volunteer a bit of my time at the school, but would, most importantly to me, finally be allowed to be a full-time parent to my child. As if quitting a very well-paying job, selling almost everything, and moving away to become a missionary doesn’t get enough strange looks, when I’d tell people that my husband would teach and I would VOLUNTEER AND BE A STAY-AT-HOME-MOM, it was as if I told them I had a magical unicorn horn growing out of my ass (yes, I am allowed to say ‘ass’).

    I think subconsciously those reactions were building up some sort of stay-at-home-intolerance within me, which I’d never had before. I’d have to explain in more detail EXACTLY what I planned to do with my time, a lot like the barista in your article. I didn’t even realize how affected I was by this social stigma until very recently. I was spending more time at the school than I or my husband had ever intended, and our family, namely my son, was suffering. I finally stepped back and am now, after a year and a half, truly only volunteering SOME of my time at the school to focus more on our family, and other interests/ministries.

    And life is amazing.

    So suck it, judgy people.

  56. Also I just HAD to reblog. 🙂

    Thanks again.

  57. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since my three children were little. My oldest is now 19, serving in the military and I still have a 16 and 14-year-old at home. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I have encountered more negative attitudes about my choice than I have positive. Yet I know that I’ll never regret it. Getting to raise my children and being available to them at any time–on top of writing from home, it’s such a blessing. But let me assure you of one thing. It’s not romantic. 🙂

  58. I’d like to say I stayed home with all five of my children. Not only did I give up a career I needed a LOT of help from my father so I could do it.
    Our children are important and I like to think I sacrificed a more exciting life for them. Just like royalty get the best teachers and governesses I’d like to think, so did my children.
    I DO wish I had “kept up my studies” so I could be something else now. I have a lot of years to fill left. SO I say we need to balance life no matter what we choose to do.
    I’m glad you say writing matters because it’s what I find myself doing. I’d like to think I learned something being home with my children and I want to share it!
    http://ktskindwords.com/ my incomplete guide to lazy-fair parenting and
    http://kttalks.com/ I have a lot to say!

  59. I LOVE staying at home and have chosen this so that others that don’t share my same beliefs and values don’t end up raising my children! Society as a whole is running away from the way it was designed – for the parents who made the babies to be responsible for them! Ugh!! How sad that so many parents chose to ‘off’ that awesome PRIVILEGE to someone else!! Makes me MAD! Thank God I have the opportunity to spend time with and for my 4 children that I chose to have! Nice post – thanks! 🙂

  60. The thing about being a stay-at-home mom is that it’s the job God intended for mothers. Look at the Proverbs 31 woman–yes, different culture, but same God. SAHMs are virtuous because they are caring for their families. Every dirty diaper changed, every pot of potatoes boiled, every load of laundry folded… God sees that and approves. It’s hard not to care about what other people think, but God is bigger and His opinion is more important. Three cheers for all those SAHMs who are following God’s will despite the negative opinions of others!

  61. Hi Kenneth, I really appreciate you writing this blog. I can very well connect to this. But for our current financial downtime, I’d have gladly been a stay-at-home mom. I’d like to spend more time with my 1yr old daughter, take her out, show her this beautiful world of ours, teach her new things, play, read and enjoy everything she does. Hope that day of me spending more time with her comes soon.
    However, I like to stress upon the point that I like having to earn that extra money to buy stuff and do what I want to do without asking my husband for money.
    All said and done, I like to stay at home, also get a little bit of money by freelancing or teaching part-time etc; spend more time with my daughter and watch her grow. I’d like to say I am very lucky that my child is not going to day care as she stays with her grandparents while I am at office. That’s an advantage in India 🙂

  62. Unless you’re trying to make money, people who snub you are doing you a favor.

  63. I consider myself a feminist and am a stay-at-home-mom. In my opinion, there should be more emphasis on family and quality-of-life in general in this country… we do not get much maternity leave, daycare is horribly expensive and not well regulated… I could go on and on. Most people have to throw their kids into daycare right away or get out of the workforce. I personally believe having a parent stay at home is wonderful for the child and family, if it can be done. It doesn’t matter whether the parent is the mom or dad–it depends on the temperament of the parents (who loves their job, who makes the bulk of the income, etc) and stay-at-home dads can be wonderful caretakers.

  64. “I thought the women’s rights movement was supposed to support women doing whatever they want…….yet too often doesn’t it seem as though Women’s Lib only exists to put pressure on women to pursue politics, the business world and other high-pressure jobs?”

    This is incorrect. People who consider themselves against feminism often try and say that feminist want all women in the workforce, want to turn women into men or some other nonsense. women’s rights has ALWAYS been about choice. If you choose to be a stay-at-home mom, great! Same if you choose to be a stay-at-home dad. Those are admirable and sometimes difficult jobs, just as much as any other.

    The woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mom is in full control of her rights. She is choosing her life. The problem is when women are forced to accept that lifestyle based on their gender. That woman is not in control of her rights. Her rights have been taken.

    As to why people were giving her dirty looks, maybe they’re just jealous. Maybe they wish they could do that too, but they can’t.

  65. It seems that many people don’t exactly know what they are pursuing; they’re just heading in some direction to reach a destination some time in the future when they will be able to ‘relax & enjoy’ themselves.

    One of the hardest but most fulfilling roles is raising children. It takes blood, sweat & tears; physical & emotional energy; focus; flexibility; goals. Funny, but so many of these have become corporate mantras. Why can’t they be personal too?

    I guess it boils down to whether it’s the application of objectives to achieve goals, or where we apply them, that matters.

    I would argue that applying goals which lead to appreciative & socially aware children (& ultimately adults) is perhaps more important than applying goals which produce a beautifully exquisite toilet basin 🙂

    … and isn’t freedom of choice something we boast in our ‘civilised western society’?

    As always, thought provoking

Trackbacks

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