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Stay-At-Home Mom is Not the Hardest Job in the World

Just because motherhood is hard doesn't mean it's a career — after all, there's no retirement, and the pay is terrible — so stop comparing it to other jobs.

Oprah used to state — when the subject came up — that stay-at-home mom was the hardest job in the world.

Each time those words left her mouth, it felt, to me, insincere, like she knew she had to say them but what she wanted to say was,

“Seriously? I work 18 hours a day, I run a zillion businesses, I own a school and I’m responsible for hundreds of people’s livelihoods, and someone who is home, at this very moment, watching TV, in the MIDDLE of the day, has the hardest job in the world?”

And one of her employees, with a mic on their head and a clipboard in their hands, would say, “Remember who your audience is.” And Oprah would sigh and repeat the words.

Those words “the hardest job in the world” feel disingenuous to me no matter whose mouth they come out of; like it is an expression of pity, a verbal pat on the back saying, I’m sorry you’re not ambitious enough to have a career, but at least it’s the Hardest Job in the World that you get paid ZERO dollars to do.

It’s the participation award of job titles.

It is a neon sign saying, “World’s Best Coffee.”

It’s the “At least you have your health” of useless statements that don’t make anyone feel better.

The only person who does not pat stay-at home-mothers’ flabby egos is comedian Louis C.K. (whose target audience is not mothers, but rather pimply 13-year-old boys trapped in the bodies of middle-aged men). Louis (or is it C.K.?) says any job that you can do in your pajamas is not the hardest job in the world. Isn’t being a redheaded roofer in Arizona in August harder, he asks.

But is Stay-At-Home-Mom the hardest job in the world?

Well, it is hard to be a parent, whether you are a mother or a father, working or not. It’s hard to keep these creatures — who don’t even have the sense to save themselves when their head is under water — alive every day. Creatures that put their hands in fire, walk into traffic, crawl into drainage pipes and stick their hands into dark crevasses. Creatures who pop everything in their mouth, including chewed gum found under tables and cigarette butts. Creatures that want to pet alligators and hug rabid raccoons.

It's pretty hard on your sanity to keep your kids alive every day.

Plus, you get punched in the nose a lot and stabbed in the eye. Your boob may get bitten, you will get vomited on repeatedly. Possibly — if you ever fall asleep while holding a sick child — you may have the unforgettable experience of having someone vomit into your mouth.

And that can be very hard, both physically and emotionally.

And the only job that has more screaming and crying is horror movie sound editor, so it can be hard on your ears.

But honestly, I don’t think stay-at-home mother is a job at all. Just because it is hard work does not mean it is a job.

That is why it is called motherhood and fatherhood. It is a state of being, not a career. It is where you live, like your neighborhood. If it was a job, you could put in your two weeks’ notice and you could get promoted (moved up to grandparent?) and you’d get paid, and receive benefits. You could retire, or switch careers. You would be able to have a holiday and get time off. But you don’t get any of that as a stay-at-home mom, so stop comparing it to other jobs.

Being a stay-at-home mom is a wonderful, albeit lonely and possibly insanity-creating, opportunity, but raising kids in not my current career. It is simply an additional state that I will always be in: that of being a mother.

You are a parent whether you stay at home or go to work. Just because one person spends more time with their kids than the other, does not make it one person's job and the other one's hood.

It is hard whether you are the father or the mother.

And even Louis C.K. might run to the top of a roof in August rather than be stuck inside in his pajamas alone with a colicky infant.

Plus, if it was a job wouldn’t it be called the oldest profession?

If you like Pen Name Jane, please kiss our flabby egos on Facebook.

Katie Malone May 21, 2013 at 08:48 PM
I found a great company that focuses on green living and being able earn an income staying home with your kids. Take a look at http://dp.momsprovide.com.
Rachel Elizabeth July 11, 2013 at 04:41 PM
LOL @ Luna and Jenny. Bitter women there. I stay home with my kids and unlike your what I can only sum up as disgusting husbands, I can do whatever I choose with OUR Money. My husbands money is mine and his. If I worked outside the home daycare would cost FAR MORE then I would even earn. Plus I do not want strangers raising my kids. When i want to get my hair done, or buy clothes, I can because my husband is not a complete dictator who says the money is his. I more then likely work harder everyday then you 2 idiots. an opinion is NOT an opinion if it is dead wrong. you dont respect me because i choose to not hand my kids to random people and I stay home with them? well i think you are insane. my husband WANTS me home with our kids too. what fathers would love to stay home? sound like you have a lazy husband who wants to do nothing. i feel sorry for you and i am disgusted by you both. elizabeth, you are awesome
elizabeth August 08, 2013 at 12:20 AM
"Also, once your children reach kindergarten, there is no reason to stay at home and full time work may be resumed. " This is hilarious, because picking up a job at any given moment after staying home with your kid for 5 years is so gosh darn easy... Wow. I'm a stay at a home mom and I get a lots of support from my working mother friends, they respect me for what I have been able to do (not necessarily wanted to do) and I respect them for what they have been able to do. Its not always about choices ladies, some of us don't get a choice, or if we do, they're not always that great. I know what working mom's do is difficult, what I do as a stay at home mom is difficult as well, they're difficult in different ways! I was recently afforded the luxury of being able to volunteer for a day working on a website at local non-profit organization while my mom watched my young son. It was AMAZING. I loved being able to talk and bounce around ideas with other adults. I was actually able to drink half a cup of coffee uninterrupted. It was for one day and it was great. I imagine if I were there for the duration things would be different, eventually something difficult would arise, and staying home with my son would seem so much more appealing. But Jenny, what world are you living in where you think the average working American can just la-de-da go pluck a full time job out of thin air when their kid goes off to kindergarten???? And are you even aware of kindergarten hours, they're not work day world hours honey... Who's going to pick your kids up from school and drop them off? What happens when they get sick? If you're a high income Mom, super awesome - you can get a nanny to do the after school hours work, but if you're like the other larger percentage of women and men out there, we can't afford that luxury. Also, most employers don't care about sick kids and school hours, they expect you to be there during working hours because that's what they're paying you for. So ya, hey according to Jenny, all of us stay at home moms, lets just grab ourselves some easy breezy full time job once our kids hit kindergarten - its just that easy. WOW, just wow....... And on another note, parents with special needs children (such as myself) we're not sitting at home in the middle of the afternoon watching television - the small amount of time I do get to myself (after my kid is in bed) is usually spent reading articles about what I can do to help my son, and then I come across this mess. Life's not black and white people.
Kat L. October 12, 2013 at 04:07 PM
It is absurd to deny that being a 'stay-at-home' parent is an ostentatious luxury. Having a child is making a choice of little to no sleep, vomit in your mouth, excess housekeeping and of course the dutiful inherent task of keeping your child out of harms way. My mother home educated us during the day, cooked fresh meals, kept the house spotless, and took us to sports practice and ballet. When my father got home from his job, my mother went to work evenings as a collection representative for a bank. She spent countless quality hours shaping us into the well-rounded human beings that she sought to, and she never complained. My mother isn't superwoman - she just isn't lazy. Being a 'stay-at-home' parent is nothing less than a privilege. Period.

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