Monday, July 28, 2008

"Good For You, Honey!"

Have you ever wondered about the responses you get when you tell people you're a stay-at-home mom? I have come to believe these responses say so much about the person giving them, and so little about you.

For example, there's the fierce, "Good for you! That is so awesome!" which always makes me suspect the person I am talking to thinks I'm a right-wing homeschooler (I am not), or that I am doing something righteous (I am not). I often feel the person is about to embark upon a long speech about the selfishness of women these days, how they don't understand that what a child needs is his mother, etc., etc. My response: a small smile. (An interesting aside: most of the people who give me this particular response are men.)

Another one I get is this: "How fun! You're so lucky to have that option." I believe this person wishes he/she had that option, or that his/her parents had that option. If they asked (which most people don't) I would tell them that part of the reason I am a SAHM is because my mom never was and I always wished she could be. So I understand this response, but I also think it could be very wrong when applied to someone else. Like, someone who doesn't really have the "choice" whether or not to stay home with the kids for whatever reason. My response: a small smile.

When people find out that I used to be an English teacher, they will sometimes ask, "Do you think you'll go back when the kids are older?" My response: Hell, no. When they're older they'll be playing with matches and sipping off my liquor bottles after school. (Well, at least my daughter and her friends will be while my son is at the chess club meeting.)

Here's one that I heard recently, from three or four moms: "Oh, God! I could never do that. One week I had to stay home with my kid because he had the flu and I almost killed myself. I was so bored. I mean, hats off to you, but..."

One of these women also complained that even though she and her husband both had important jobs, his always trumped hers because he's a doctor. She was totally over it. "So I'm the one who has to come home early if the kid is sick because some patient tried to commit suicide. Like I care!" I don't think she meant to be callous, but her point was taken. It gets old when your life is always the one being shunted aside "for the children."

For my part, I don't like the "Good for you, Honey!" response because what the person giving it doesn't understand is that I'm commitment-averse and I hate working for a living. I am a much more productive member of society now that I am raising kids and gardening and cooking and being a good friend and sending flowers to my grandma and teaching the odd yoga class than I EVER was as someone's paid employee. Some people might think I am a loser for this reason (my ex-boyfriend's smirking face comes to mind). Maybe I haven't lived up to my potential. I'm not sure what kind of potential that might be, but I've a feeling being a 7th grade English teacher wasn't it.

This is my potential right now.

Good for me.

(And another thing. How do these "good for you honey" people know that I'm not a big old princess who hires out 60 hours of childcare a week so I can play tennis and paint my nails? Hmmm? Is it the pasty skin and scraggly fingernails that give it away?)


Rose said...

When i saw your comment about having blury eyes from being on the Computer on your face book page i immediatley rushed to see what you must have posted on your blog! I fricking love this post! I completly agree with you in the first paragraph, so true! Pretty much the main reason I do it is because it works for us. It is way harder than I thought it would be and a lot of the time less rewarding than I thought it would be. But overall it just works for us. Charlie and I have pretty traditional roles with a twist...I use baby sitters, can't cook for shit and have house cleaners. Charlie is a very involved dad and somehow plays a lot of golf.
I used to get a little pissed at the reactions I would get and now I own it like my favorite bag from target.
My lame dad even recently made a comment about how he saw some of his neighbors who have kids my kids'age meeting for lunch at the Bellevue club where he was having a business lunch and commented on how "tough" they must have it...sarcastically. I mentioned that I have become one of those people who actually forgets to eat because I can't seem to fit lunch in anywhere and why can't they have a lunch break? He got one!!! My own dad...a little disappointing...all moms should have lunch out everyday! Anyway, There is no perfect answer, and actually my reason for staying home changes all the time! Good one Susie!

susie said...

"Own it like your favorite bag from Target" is going to be my next favorite quoatable line. That's awesome, Rose.

Rose said...

Thanks! That reminds me....almost time to check out the Fall line!

johnimer said...

Hi Susie,

Just wanted to say I've been reading your blog and really enjoying it, particularly this one...

Hope all of you are having a good summer.

Jill (Alice's mom)