Insensitive Things You Say To Your Stay-At-Home-Mom Friends
As you move through your thirties and forties, your female friends will split off into several types of lifestyles. You’ll have your high power corporate friends who own a lot of blazers and eat a lot of Hilton continental breakfasts. You’ll have your friends who chose the alternative route of starting their own business—one that may be flying or floundering. You may even have friends who stay at jobs that don’t mean much to them and don’t offer much by way of upwards movement, but they’re okay with that. Then you’ll have your stay-at-home-mom friends. Rather than contribute to the economy they’re contributing to humanity by dedicating their entire lives to the upbringing, care and guiding of their children. That is just as noble (if not nobler) of a job as all the others. But it’s a job that non-stay-at-home-moms, or simply women who aren’t even mothers, have a hard time relating to. Here are some insensitive things you might be saying to your stay-at-home-mom friends.
That’s so traditional of you
Your friend gets the subtext here; you’re calling her backward, retro and downright anti-feminist for being a stay at home mom. Does every decision a woman makes need to go under the critical eye of the feminist agenda? Your friend isn’t trying to go along with some societal expectation or defy one. She had far more important things on her mind when she made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom.
Now you don’t need to pay for a nanny
In other words, your stay-at-home mom friend is just a nanny? She is providing so much more for her children than a nanny ever could. She is going to ensure that the values she and her husband agreed they’d like to teach their children will actually be passed down to them. She’s going to help them feel bonded to their parents more, and feel like they stand on the slightly more stable ground than children who spend most of their time with their nannies. Being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t just save money; it can change the way children turn out.
You probably get to sleep in
While your friend may have been asleep at 9 am when you called, that’s probably because she was awake at 2 am when one child had a nightmare and woke her up, and 5 am when another decided she wanted her cheerios early. Maybe by 8 am, your friend got all of her kids to settle down into naps and she finally got to go back to bed for an hour. At least you get to decide when you sleep.
Can you watch my kids? You’re home anyways
Oh sure, because they’re like dogs, and once you’re feeding one it’s no trouble to just feed three, right? Yeah, right! Your friend is not a daycare service. If you drop your children off with her, you just took her stress level from a 10 to a 17. And that was on a scale from 1 to 10, by the way. If she ever had a chance of sitting down to eat for ten minutes without being disturbed, you just took that from her.
Let’s trade lives
Because your friend’s life is a walk in the park, right? Be careful what you wish for. If you traded lives with your friend, you may quickly miss things like going to the gym, watching something besides cartoons, using the bathroom by yourself, and interacting with grownups.
It must be nice to wear sweats all day
Actually, your stay-at-home-mom friend would really love the time and occasion to put on a cute outfit. It has been months since she was allowed the luxury of a little vanity. She feels guilty if she takes so much as five minutes to pluck her eyebrows because, during those five minutes, a kid could be getting into mischief. She wishes her husband could come home to a dolled up partner, but that’s just not the case.
Do you worry about being out of the workforce for so long?
Why yes, she does. So nice of you to bring that up. Do you really think your friend didn’t think about that before leaving work? She spent a long time thinking about the pros and cons of being a stay-at-home mom. She understood that, by leaving her industry for a while, she could fall behind, and not have the same opportunities when she returns as she would have if she’d kept working this whole time. But she decided that being a stay-at-home-mom was well worth the sacrifice.
How’d your husband trick you into that?
Right. Because he is somehow the one winning here. Your friend probably doesn’t love the implication that she is in a marriage full of trickery and deceit, where each person is constantly trying to get the other one to do things they won’t enjoy, against their will. Your friend and her partner are a team and they decided, together, that she would be the one to stay at home.
I’d love not having a boss
Your friend has a boss. She may even have several bosses. They are just much smaller, don’t respond to reason and scream and cry a lot. You know how you only get to enjoy brief moments of peace if your boss is happy? Well, your stay-at-home-mom friend also has to meet the demands of her little bosses if she hopes to enjoy ten minutes where she isn’t worrying somebody stuffed their head in the dryer, or someone is about to scream for an hour. And she cannot reason with her bosses the way you can with yours. And her bosses are terrible at communicating what they want.
I’d use that time to read
What time? The time when the kids are napping? No, you couldn’t. You’d need to fold laundry, prepare the dinner you’re going to freeze for the next three nights, clean the vomit out of the carpet, pick up the tiny pieces of toys your child scattered in a million directions that keep stabbing you in the feet and maybe—just maybe—take a shower. By the time one child wakes up from his nap, you won’t even have accomplished two of the things on that list. And don’t think about listening to a book on tape because it could awake your children. You can’t listen to it with headphones, either, because you need to hear if a child gets into mischief.
Why can’t you make it? What are you even doing?
Why can’t your friend make the happy hour? Why can’t she come to yoga? It’s not like she has some conference call to be on until 7 pm or a brief she needs to prepare for tomorrow morning, right? Well, no. But one child just got lice so now she is cleaning all of the bedding in the house rapidly, and trying to give a lice bath to the affected child while keeping the other ones entertained and away. It’s like the least fun game of Operation ever.
Don’t you miss talking to grownups?
First off, by asking your friend this, you make her a feel insecure. Are you bringing this up because she seems to have lost the ability to talk to grownups? And yes, she does missing talking to grownups sometimes. But also she doesn’t because grownups can be a bit insensitive and judgmental (hint, hint.)
You have no idea the stress I go through
She doesn’t know the particular things that stress you out, but she does understand your level of stress. If you do something wrong, you may lose money, and that sucks. But if your friend does something wrong, she may have emotionally scarred a little human for life or put someone’s health at risk. Money is something you can make back, but the things she goes through sometimes cannot be undone.
Nice your husband can support you both
It is. But your friend is supporting her husband in a huge way, too. She is raising his offspring. She is literally keeping his children alive, and seeing to their mental and emotional wellbeing. You know those things that life is all about—family, relationships and love? She is facilitating those for her partner. And she is giving him the tremendous peace of mind that his wife, and not a stranger, is by his children’s side while he works.
So, what do you really do?
Stop asking your friend what she really does, what she did before she was a mom, or what she is beside a mom. She has, at least for now, shed those parts of her identity and so should you. She is a mom, and she’s very proud to be one. She doesn’t have to reiterate that she also worked in this industry or owned that business, so neither should you.