Why Is Stay-At-Home Mom Shaming Still Happening?

It often turns into a whose life is the hardest competition.
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Michelle Zunter

I already know I’ll probably get some less-than-happy reactions for this post. I’m not trying to intentionally upset anyone. I’m simply trying to understand something that I’ve been experiencing for the last five years. I’m talking about stay-at-home mom shaming.

The war between stay-at-home mothers and mothers who leave the house to go to work seems to have no expiration date. How do I know this? I know because I often find myself fielding inappropriate, rude comments made to me by other moms who do leave their homes to go out to work every day.

And the reason I say, “leave their homes to go out to work,” is because many moms, like myself, do actually work from inside the home or run small businesses. Unfortunately, working from home doesn’t give you much credit with the “working-outside-of-the-home moms” that I have personally run into.

I’d like to try and get to the bottom of why what moms do or if they work is still such a hot-button issue within our culture. I’m not sure that I will be able to nail it on the head, but I do have a theory.

I think it has to do with personal happiness.

We all know that when people are unhappy or miserable with their own lives, they often tend to try and drag others down. Many of us moms ― single or not ― have been blindsided by the absolutely life-altering production of having a child. How you deal with your circumstances in regards to relating to other moms who don’t have the same dynamics going on in the home as you do can really make all the difference.

Your choices are yours alone. If you made the choice to have a child, then obviously that child is your responsibility. If you had a child with someone who turned out to be a deadbeat parent and they bailed out on you ― that certainly sucks. But as challenging as that must be, it still doesn’t give anyone permission to assume that a mom who does have a partner or who decides to stay at home with her children deserves any less respect.

As soon as I quit my job five years ago I felt it. I was out of the club of working women. I had been demoted to housewife and stay-at-home-mom. I recently dedicated a post to my own fear of becoming a stay-at-home mom and the feelings that come with that. I’ve felt guilty, I’ve felt defensive, and I’ve felt unproductive.

“Sometimes it seems as if this mommy martyrdom has taken over to the point where it does feel like a battle just to have a simple mom-to-mom conversation.”

Sometimes it seems as if this mommy martyrdom has taken over to the point where it does feel like a battle just to have a simple mom-to-mom conversation. It often turns into a whose life is the hardest competition.

There are always the unsolicited comments from moms who go out to work about how I must have so much more time to do fun things with the kids, how lucky I am to stay home, or how nice it must be not to have to get up and work every day like they have to.

Then there’s my favorite comment that goes something like, “I wish I could stay home like you but someone has to work and pay the bills!”

I feel bad when I hear things like this. Is that the intention? Should it be my burden to feel guilty because someone else is unhappy with their own life choices?

Since when did rushing off to a dead-end job that you resent just to pay the bills become a badge of honor? And if that’s not the case and you’re instead rushing off to a job that fulfills you and also brings home a hearty paycheck ― then good for you!

What would happen if I went back to my old job or found a new job outside of the home to make more money? Would I feel vindicated in the eyes of the “working moms” who have judged me? Would I feel part of the “club” again? Would I be happier?

Probably not. It was my choice to quit my job and stay home. And now I’m working on many things from inside the home besides parenting that fulfill me every day. The only time I ever feel defensive about my choice to be a stay-at-home mom is when someone approaches me with a none-of-your- business comment like, “What do you do all day long?”

I don’t have that unnecessary guilt about my choices anymore. No one else has to live my life but me. How I manage our household or where/how/if I earn money is not up for discussion unless I say so.

Discontentment with your own choices as a mother doesn’t grant you permission for instant judgment towards another mother. We as women and mothers should feed more focus into how to create more abundance in our own lives, rather than criticizing choices and circumstances that are different than ours.

Visit Michelle at The Pondering Nook & also Listen to her co-hosting at The Broad’s Way Podcast

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