Being a Stay at Home Mum Doesn't Make Me Dumb
Most of the time I try to write nice, encouraging things. Every now and then I have something to say that I feel particularly - you could say - emotionally charged about. So I am going to put my disclaimer up the top of this article instead of at the bottom, just to make sure it isn't missed.
Disclaimer: I do not think certain job types make you a dumb person. I have done all sorts of jobs in the past. The last thing I want you to think is that I'm judging you based on your job! It's the assumptions behind the job offer I received that were offensive, not the job itself.
Today someone offered me a cleaning job as ‘a favour’.
I have to admit, my first reaction was not thankful. In fact, I was pretty damn cranky. I wasn’t looking for work and had in no way solicited this offer. The offer came from a colleague of my husband, who was looking for a cleaner and ‘thought he’d like to give the job to me rather than pay random cleaners’. Me - someone he’d never met nor knew anything about, but who just happened to be ‘unemployed’.
So because I'm a youngish stay-at-home mum, I'm automatically desperate for quick cash, and obviously don't have any work aspirations. Now being a self-employed cleaner obviously requires a range of skills, equipment and experience (first of which, you'd hope, is the ability to clean well - which anyone who has visited my home lately would not attest to). However, this job was offered to me with the understanding that I needed no training and a minimum wage.
It's not that they meant offense, I get that. It's just I don't know why people assume I haven't got any qualifications or skills, or that I don’t have any other job prospects. As if offering me a cleaning job was some great favour because i’m sitting at home, unemployed, struggling for income. I’m not going to go into my resume/CV here, but suffice to say I have a pretty good working background, education and career outlook.
Now, I'm not against unskilled jobs or think myself better than that or anything. I've had plenty of different types of jobs in the past, because I started working at the age of 14. In fact, I even considered this job offered to me. It's just I hate that most people assume I have no career, hobbies, interests or experience outside of being a mum. Being a stay at home mother does not make me unskilled, uneducated or without prospects.
It's not like I existed in a vacuum before I became a mum. Every mum was doing something before she had kids.
It's not just random men either, it's other mums. I have had other mums brag to me about how they are so glad they have had amazing lives and so many great experiences before having kids. They were deliberately implying that I had missed out on these experiences because I had my first baby “so young” (not really young at all, historically speaking). This is without knowing any of my experiences. I should have called out their prejudices, but I never did and I never will. Because I'm not the confrontational type.
I have so many friends who don't know I'm an author or have this website, because they have never once asked me what I do, beyond if I'm currently a stay at home parent or not. And I can't bring myself to tell them outright because I worry it might come across as self-promotion. Yet I try to make a point of asking what mums did 'before you had your baby/became a stay at home mum'.
So all this to say, it's time to stop assuming stay-at-home mums are dumb. In fact, it's such a stupid assumption, indicating such lack of understanding and social awareness, that the joke is really on you. Ironic much?
So why write this? Because I can't be the only one constantly feeling devalued by others for my role as a stay-at-home mother. It is time our society stopped judging women and being prejudice towards women who choose to have a period of their working life as a stay-at-home mother. You have no idea what is behind that messy hair, milk-stained motherhood uniform. Do not for one minute think this is all there is to me - to us.
Instead, try understanding why a woman in this day and age might decide to stay home instead of return to paid work. (It’s not as if this isn’t an option available to us.) Because that is where the truly valuable, interesting conversations can be found!
Now tell me:
Mamas, can you relate? Have you ever felt judged for being a mother - as if it somehow made you less qualified or experienced? I would love to hear your experiences too. I can't be the only one!