≡ Menu

Things you never say to a working mom

Recently, I was chatting with a neighborhood mom and when I innocently asked whether she still worked, she responded, a little snippy, “Yes. Every day. As all moms do.”

Then I complimented her on her cute Oriental daughter and asked her if she had any crippled friends.

Perhaps I should know better. We have entered a new enlightened era of referring to stay-at-home moms instead of housewives, and now saying work-out-of-the-house mom instead of working mom less we offend (I offended! I am offensive!) anyone and everyone. We’re all so touchy about who we are and what we do and how people talk about us. Language is changing by the nanosecond. Or at least by the blog post. And it’s sometimes hard to keep up.

I’m pretty good about it on these pages (and when I’m not I get schooled by you all) but I suppose in person, without the benefit of rewrites, habits die hard. Still, I’ve always believed that people are entitled to be called whatever they want to be called; as long as I’m given one free pass when I get it wrong.

So while I guess you never ask a stay-at-home-mom “do you work?” (but rather, “do you work out of the house?”) I guess there are some things you never say to a working out of the house mom. Like, say: She’s a good mom by night

(Presumably not by day, when I’m “off duty?”)

Or: Well we just gave up the luxuries in life so I could stay home with the kids. 

(Because things like heat and food are luxuries.)

Or my favorite: If you didn’t want to raise your own children, why have them?

(To which there is no appropriate verbal response. You just smile and walk away from the discussion and feel bad that this woman has not acquired any social skills that might lead to things like, oh…friends. Meow.)


As luck would have it, I’m working on a piece for a big ol’ magazine about things you never say to a working mom. (Or, I guess, work out of the house mom. Although that’s just so damn cumbersome. Can’t we think of a new one? But I digress.) And I’d love your help. You’ll have my eternal gratitude and admiration, and I’ll link to the final piece here and credit all of your inspiration and genius.

That is…genius by night.

{ 199 comments… add one }

  • Raising Madison 1.04.2011, 2:11 am

    “That must be so hard to leave your kids”

    Sure, it's hard. But I liked working. No, take that back, I loved working and I am trying my hardest to become a “work outside of the home” mom again. I hate that there is a stigma attached to moms who actually enjoy returning to their professional lives. Some of us weren't meant to be home all day with our kids- I fall into that category.

  • Domestic Goddess 1.04.2011, 2:11 am

    Well, for starters, I know my sisters HATED IT when folks assumed they couldn't afford to stay home with their kids. They sorta could but they also liked working. And there is NOTHING wrong with that. So they paid me (eejit who chose to stay home) to watch their kids. best of Both worlds.
    So, yeah. Assuming they work because they can't afford to stay home with their own kids. Also, “How can you leave them every day with strangers! Must be so hard!” ranks up there, too.

  • ASuburbanLife 1.04.2011, 2:14 am

    The most offensive to me, from a male colleague who was expecting his first child “my wife is staying home because we don't want someone else to raise our kids”. I guess that answered the question of what he thought of me!

  • etdragon 1.04.2011, 2:17 am

    “Your kids must be sick all the time at Daycare right?”

    This one has been said to me and I about near threw the person out a window.

  • Meredith Oke 1.04.2011, 2:17 am

    “Wow. The children seem REALLY close to their nanny.”

  • Backpacking Dad 1.04.2011, 2:18 am

    “Why doesn't your husband work?”

  • Redneck Mommy 1.04.2011, 2:18 am

    How about, “It must be so nice for you to work outside the home and have a reason to wear makeup and clothes other than sweat pants.”

    Which is what some biddy once said to me in my office when she noticed the picture of my two kids on my desk.

    I've obviously fallen into a personal hygiene pit of hell as I toil away at home now that I no longer have a job outside the walls of my home.

    But I look damn cute in yoga pants, no matter what my mother says.

  • Anonymous 1.04.2011, 2:18 am

    “Don't you wish you could be at home with your kids?”

    No actually I don't. My husband is home with the kids during the day b/c of his work schedule. Why would we want to give up the luxuries (the food, health insurance, running water) so that we could both be home at the same time?

  • Grace 1.04.2011, 2:24 am

    I've had a few good ones but here are two favourites:

    (a) “Do you have any children of your own?”

    (b) “Are you the nanny?”

    The funny thing is I think the women who asked the questions did not mean to offend. They really just wanted to include me in the conversation. Rather than make the situation more awkward, I just replied:

    (a) “This is my only one,” and continued to push my son on the swing.

    (b) “Yes, and the cook, and the driver, and the nurse and the mother.”

    And yes, folks, for the record, Filipino women are also very good with their own kids.

    Grace Sanchez MacCall

  • Boston Mamas 1.04.2011, 2:26 am

    As a former cute Oriental daughter (wait, am I still cute? I'm definitely still Oriental!) who has been a working mom both full time out of the home and full time in the home, I hear you.

    I used to get the same, “Oh, don't you actually want to raise your children?” and “Wow, don't you feel bad about only seeing your kid for a couple of hours before they go to bed?” comments when I was working at the hospital, but I've actually found more challenges in this department since transitioning to work out of my home office….such as my people (even a former landlord) assuming that since I'm at home I'm available for tech support, family crisis calls, and fetching directions off the Google (I kid you not). Or the pressure to volunteer at my daughter's school because my schedule is “flexible.”

    It's come to the point that I've stopped answering my phone during the day unless it's a scheduled work call. But that of course leads to people like my mother repeatedly calling both my home and cell, because if I'm not home then where am I?

    Probably out getting a manicure while watching Oprah and eating bon bons.

  • JD 1.04.2011, 2:26 am

    “I wouldn't put my dogs in daycare, let alone my kids.”

    My friend's husband said this to me and my husband, just as I finished telling him how excited we were about the daycare we just checked out. I was preggo with my first.

    True story. I'm not exaggerating. It was literally the rudest thing anyone has ever said to me. I still can't believe my husband was able to restrain himself from hitting the jerk.

  • mayberry 1.04.2011, 2:27 am

    My personal favorite is “Well, I just know *I* could never let someone else raise my child.”

  • Kelsey 1.04.2011, 2:28 am

    I am a 'SAHM' but I hate the Suzie Homemaker stereotype that is attached with it. So when people tell me how great it is that I stay home with my kids, I just tell them that I'm too lazy to work.

    It's more accurate than snarky.

    • JLH 2.15.2014, 5:59 pm

      From a working mom: You.are.awesome.

      And I’m sure you are NOT lazy.

  • Danielle-Marie 1.04.2011, 2:28 am

    “I'd rather stay home and give up a few personal luxuries than take all that time away from my kids.”

    —yes, this was once said word for word to me when I brought up the idea of going back to work full time!

  • Kelsey 1.04.2011, 2:29 am

    OH, something to never say to a working-outside-the-home mom.

    “But how do you keep up with your Farmville account?”

  • jodifur 1.04.2011, 2:30 am

    Someone once asked me me to do something with Michael in the middle of the day and I said, I can't I work and she looked right at me and said “you work, I'm so sorry.”

    I was so floored I didn't even have a response.

  • Mom101 1.04.2011, 2:31 am

    Oh my gosh these are so so amazing!

    And psst JD – dogs are happier in daycare than home alone with their boring owners. Trust me.

  • ali 1.04.2011, 2:34 am

    I work shift work and commonly get “Then who puts your kids to bed??” (because, apparently, Daddies are incapable…), “Do you EVER get to see your kids??” (the answer is yes, actually more than a 9-5er…) and my personal favorite, “So you can't afford to be a stay-at-home-mom??” (I could, I CHOOSE not to, which usually infuriates them more, so I say I can't).

    My rule of thumb is to make child care/working mom conversations like religion and politics…NEVER discuss them with people you don't know VERY well (and even then stay reserved)!!!

  • Erica 1.04.2011, 2:46 am

    I just had a conversation with a SAHM who told me that the best gift for a SAHM was time away. Because all that time at work, we are relaxing and hanging out?

    I also got the dog/daycare comment. I can't believe there is another person in the world who would say that!

  • adjustmentdisorder 1.04.2011, 2:56 am

    I'm a part time work-at-home Mom, mostly because I needed an excuse to put my kids in daycare because I would be a psychotic depressed bitch if I was with them all the time. (And yes, I love them more than anything, blah blah blah.) I just can't deal with the judgmental crap from mothers on both ends of the working/SAHM spectrum, which is why I know have exactly three Mommy friends with whom I will have playdates and/or discuss parenting choices. (And yes, I will likely be crucified for this comment. Whatever.)

    • Indy 6.22.2013, 3:13 pm

      You’re awesome because I can relate.

  • Mom101 1.04.2011, 2:58 am

    @adjustmentdisorder eh, this isn't community that's big on crucifixion. Try The Stir at Cafe Mom.

  • Mom-Friday 1.04.2011, 3:01 am

    I've been a “working mom” and now SAHM and each one has it's own pros and cons….just wish people would respect women's choices and not judge.
    I've been asked:
    “So you're ok with leaving your kid with your in-laws and nanny?” – as if it's a bad thing.
    I'm just fortunate that here in the Philippines, nannies are more accessible and having my in-laws living with us has more advantages for us.
    I love what your reader Grace said :)

  • Sarah 1.04.2011, 3:06 am

    “Did you see that article last week in (name your media piece here) about that daycare that had (name your major communicable disease, freak playground accident, etc. here).”

    I try to avoid those people but can't seem to. I trust the daycare I chose as top notch but dont make me worry any more than I already do when my kids aren't under my direct care. I already shoulder more Mommy guilt than I care to admit by 7am drop off.

  • erin_b 1.04.2011, 3:07 am

    “It must be nice to get a break while you're at work.”

    “Don't you love your children?”

    “Don't you want your children raised with values and morals?” ??

    From my mother-in-law as I was expecting my third…”Well, now there is no way you can go back to work!” As if she had finally triumphed in battle…Watch me lady, I'm going back. She didn't say a word with #4. :-)

    From my boss as if he was doing me a favor but I agreed so I am the idiot… “We'll pay you part-time (2/3) so you can have flexibility during your free periods but you will still teach the same courseload.” Ummm… flexibility was his codeword for nursing my children on school grounds or pumping in a bathroom stall. Grrr…

  • Jessica 1.04.2011, 3:10 am

    Lately, I have been getting “I know you wish you could stay at home.” Maybe, maybe not. The assumption that all women want to stay at home is old-fashioned and narrow-minded. I am thankful that I have a socially acceptable choice. Now don't judge me.

  • Cloud 1.04.2011, 3:12 am

    “Doesn't it bother you to have complete strangers raising your kids?”

    That is wrong at least twice- the wonderful day care workers are no longer complete strangers, and they aren't “raising” my kids.

    But I usually don't get too catty when I hear that- I smile, and refer them to Sarah Hrdy's book “Mothers and Others”, which makes the case that humans have always been a cooperative breeding species in which mothers have had help caring for their children.

    The one that really gets me mad is: “Oh, it must be so HARD to be a working mom.”

    I think that is insulting to ALL moms- as if there is some easy way to be a mom! That one annoys me so much that I wrote an entire rant about it.

    For me, working outside the home is the best way for me to be a mom, but my choice doesn't really say anything about anyone else's choice- what is best for me and my family may really suck for someone else and her family. I think if we'd all just try to assume that families have chosen the arrangement that works best for THEM, and that what works for one family may not work well at all for another family, we'd do a lot better.

  • Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma 1.04.2011, 3:13 am

    Why can't we all just get along? Puppy dogs and rainbows?

    Motherhood is already hard enough as it is without throwing the whole self-important ” I am mightier-than-thou” because I work or stay home.

    Truly, does your choice really affect my choice?

    Nope, so this playground banter, needs to stop.

    You are not a crappy mom for working, and you are not a crappy professional for choosing to leave the workforce.

    Just be glad ladies that we are in an era where we have a choice.

    *disclosure I am a work at home mom who left teaching because day care would have swallowed my paltry salary.

  • Walkingborder (Karen) 1.04.2011, 3:13 am

    “At least you get a break from the kids.”

    1. Let me break something for you, please. I'll start with your neck.

    2. I wouldn't call work a break. Yes being a mom is the most challenging job I've ever had but work is still work.

    3. I'd rather be with my kids. I mean don't get me wrong. Sometimes I think I want a break from them but in reality at least I can hug and kiss my kids. If I tried that with customers…

    4. That's what Grandparents are for.

  • sam {temptingmama} 1.04.2011, 3:13 am

    I have brushed on this topic a time or two, so I won't eat up your comments. *ahem* ;)

    People continue to assume that I *can't* stay home because my husband doesn't make enough money.

    People have told me I should learn to curb my spending and get rid of one of my cars so I can stay home and parent my kids rather than having them in daycare.

    It's been suggested that we downsize, stop buying *stuff* and figure out what's really important so I can stay home with my kids.

    Granted, I really have wanted to quit working and stay home (who wouldn't most days), but really? I think I'd end up in a looney bin.

  • Don't Speak Whinese 1.04.2011, 3:15 am

    “Do you work because you are worried your husband is going to leave you?”

    and

    “Did you plan to have your kids?”

    aaaand…

    “It must be nice to let someone else BE the Mom for you.”

    I've been every role of parenting. Working outside of the home, working at home, stay at home and it boils down to everyone does what works for them!

  • Stephanie in Suburbia 1.04.2011, 3:22 am

    I have this weird dichotomy because I telecommute. People are slightly horrified that I also have my kid in daycare.

    I got a lot of lip from my husband's family, including “How do you trust a stranger to be with your kid” (to which I was DYING to reply either a) your son has never held a baby and I trust him or b) sometimes strangers are better than parents *hint, hint, crazy family!*.

    I thought the post from Domestic Goddess was interesting b/c I often sort of pretend poverty as an “acceptable excuse” for using daycare.

    Either way the point people seem to be making is that if I work at home, I should have my kid at home. As if my work is somehow less because I do it in my jammies. I'm still required to be there 8 hours a day like everyone else, I can't be knee deep in diapers and Sesame Street when a client calls. But people still think my house should be spotless, the laundry done, my kid on my hip, and all my reports filed on time. Come on!

    Whoa, okay, you started something here with me. I need another glass of wine.

  • wendy 1.04.2011, 3:22 am

    “You must miss them so much!”
    (Sometimes I do but I would never say to a SAHM “It must be so hard to feel like you're not contributing to your family's income!”)

    Not a quote but a relative said something that implied that my infant daughter was likely to become more attached to her daycare provider than me.

    And as others have said, those who express sympathy and make statements assuming that I must “have” to work. Forgetting the 4 years of college, 5 years of grad school, and 3 years of post-grad training I completed in order to be able to pursue this line of work, which I have wanted to do ever since I was a teenager.

  • Christina 1.04.2011, 3:28 am

    “Oh, you work? Don't you worry that your daughter will miss out on so many opportunities?”

    Right, like storytime at the library is so much better than her preschool. Apparently people think I send my daughter to a preschool where they stare at gray cement walls all day.

  • Melba 1.04.2011, 3:29 am

    I return to work tomorrow after a full year of maternity leave. I have gotten this one at least 3 or 4 times in the past week alone:

    “Oh, that's so sad you have to go back to work!”

    To which I reply:

    “HAVE to go back? No no no. GET to go back. Woohoo!!”

    Firstly, I don't have to. Hubby does pretty well on his own, money wise. Second of all, it's not sad, it's happy. Working is good for me. It's good for my family. It makes me a better mom when I'm with them. So stuff it, all you “oh it's so sad” assumers.

    Sorry. This is just timely.

  • Kim 1.04.2011, 3:31 am

    How about, “When are you going to stop working to be a real mom?” from one of the older gentlemen in my office when he found out I was pregnant? And though I did decide to quit my job and stay at home later (oldest was 7), I had no intention of leaving my career until I got a bad boss.

  • Susan 1.04.2011, 3:41 am

    No one has yet commented on how defensive the neighborhood mom was, with her snippy comment. Wow! She must be pretty insecure. I've done the gamut: part-time, full-time, currently stay at home. If someone asked me if I still worked, there's no way I would be oversensitive and take it that way. I would say, “Nope. I'm not working right now; but I used to do X and Y. What do you do?” I'm grateful to my working friends for conversation and perspective. They are grateful to me for the same.

    • Devon A. 9.13.2013, 1:23 am

      Thanks Susan … this was what I was thinking.

  • Anonymous 1.04.2011, 3:41 am

    As a SAHM, I can't even count how many times working moms have said,

    “Oh my god, you couldn't pay me enough to do your job”

    I've also been asked if I drink or use drugs to cope with being a SAHM.

  • Busy Mom 1.04.2011, 3:48 am

    For the life of me, I will never understand why we care so much about where other people spend their days.

    Also, if I say, “I work”, that statement has got absolutely nothing to do with you (the rhetorical “you”).

    It means I have go to the place that issues my paycheck, and how self-centered (and weird)to insert yourself into that.

  • Susan 1.04.2011, 3:56 am

    My mother-in-law threatened to call DSS because I was working and leaving our son with a nanny which “put him at risk”. She says she was joking. Needless to say, I didn't think it was funny!

  • JJ Keith 1.04.2011, 4:04 am

    I'm a “stay-at-home mom,” but I can't imagine being offended if someone asked me if I work. It's a really fine line between being unemployed, not being able to get a job that pays well enough to pay for childcare, and being a stay-at-home mom. Being overly sensitive about the whole thing does no good. At this point in time roles for women and mothers are ambiguous and freaking out about nomenclature doesn't help that.

    But, yes, blah blah blah, I do work while I'm home with the kids but I also kick ass at Sorority Wars so as my fellow pledges would say, “whatever.”

  • Joslin 1.04.2011, 4:11 am

    I don't have a specific comment (there are just too many to remember them all, and why would I want to. But, when I was debating on quitting my career to be a stay-at-home-mom I was having a conversation with two of my friends who got into a HUGE MASSIVE argument about whether it was best for me and my son for me to stay home. I wasn't even participating in the conversation anymore at that point. It was crazy! And, for the record, I quit.

  • SarahButtonedUp 1.04.2011, 4:14 am

    My FIL actually said to me when I explained that working outside the home was and is an important part of who I am.

    “Well, now that you have kids, it's not about you at all anymore.”

    It rendered me speechless in the moment. Then I felt a rush of guilt because, my GOD, how could I be so selfish?!?! He said it with such conviction that I took his words as truth…for a second anyway.

    Finally I came to my senses when I remembered that my own mom, who was a physician, was nothing short of spectacular, even though she was “off” during the day (love that thought Erin!). She also fought for the opportunity to work – having to stare down medical school deans who told her to her face that she was a “waste of a space in medical school” because she took the slot of a perfectly good male physician – and she'd just drop out once she got married and had kids.

    We are VERY lucky to have this naming dilemma I think!

  • Jenn 1.04.2011, 4:15 am

    As another part-time WAHM, I have to say that comments like “I'd be in the looney bin” are just as offensive to SAHMs as “work must be a nice break” is to WOHMs. Especially from people who haven't ever even *tried* staying home. The idea that it takes little to no brain power to be a caregiver is insulting.

    Also, PT work-at- home-parents- you'd think we have it all, the best of both worlds right? But as someone else said, it's more like we get judged from both sides. SAHs think we get a “break” from being with the kids (or that we can't afford to not work) & WOHs think that we have all kinds of free time and that we can never complain about errands/household duties etc, because after-all we are only working 3 days a week!

  • Kim 1.04.2011, 4:15 am

    I am employed half-time and have been referred to as a “part-time hydrologist, part-time mom.” Ouch. I'm a hydrologist 22 hours per week, but a Mom every second. The woman who said it doesn't have kids, so I let it slide.

  • Natanya @ Fete and Feast 1.04.2011, 4:42 am

    I'm a little late to this party so almost every offensive comment I've heard (or a variation thereof) has been posted here. I'm so glad I'm not alone, but at the same time, it's sad that we even have to have this discussion.

    And while it's not a specific comment, but an action, I'd like to throw out how offensive it is for all elementary school volunteer meetings and planning activities to happen during the school day, making it damned near impossible for me to participate without taking a big chunk out of my work day. I asked once about moving them to earlier morning or even early evening every now and again and was told “We only want volunteers who can commit to our needs,” which obviously meant moms who were available at 10am for a school meeting instead of a work meeting. It was as if by making the choice to keep my career I simply wasn't good enough to volunteer.

    When my daughter asks me why I work I tell her it's because I love my job, it's a part of who I am, and it makes me happy (most days). I also tell her that i work so that one day she and all of our daughters will have the freedom to choose their path, unlike many of the women in generations before ours. Diversity in approach to parenting and women in the workplace is key to keeping our daughters' paths as unencumbered as possible.

  • Dana 1.04.2011, 5:07 am

    Recently overheard from female colleague in my school: Oh, I wish I had children so I'd have to go and pick them up at the end of the day each day and have an excuse to get out of here. I stay for hours after work.

    SHe probably never should have said that in earshot of us working-out-of-the-home moms who struggle with the balance. Mind you, no one is leaving early, before the official end of the day and many of us working-out-of-the-home moms give loads of extra time to the school.

  • Lady M 1.04.2011, 5:15 am

    The moms that I run into are either more diplomatic or talk behind my back. Wow, y'all have heard an earful! (work-out-of-the-house mom here)

  • Cloud 1.04.2011, 5:23 am

    To the SAHMs offended by the comments from WOHMs about how they couldn't handle staying at home… wow, I guess I've never thought about how that might offend you. I don't think I've ever said that to a SAHM, but I have said something similar to WOHMs, and I suppose I should be more careful. I'm truly sorry.

    But @Jenn, I have to correct your assumption that the reason I would be miserable as a SAHM has anything to do with a presumed lack of intellectual challenge in taking care of kids. It doesn't. It has to do with the constant demands for my attention, and the lack of any break. Something about that just drives me batty by the end of a day or two at home with my kids. I lose patience and turn into a different type of mom than what I want to be.

    However, now that I think about it, I can see how a comment about how I would be a lousy SAHM might be seen as a back-handed compliment, and the inverse of the comments about how “hard it is to be a WOHM”, that I hate so much. We need someway to acknowledge that being a mom is hard no matter how you do it, but that some ways would be harder for some people than others!

    I hope I didn't just offend further… if so, I'm very sorry.

    • FrancesVettergreenVisualArtist 12.15.2011, 1:08 am

      Ha, I just replied to the same comment you address here. I think you should lose the guilt, though.

      Why is it so loaded to say we’d be lousy SAHMs? We also say we’d be lousy dentists, or lawyers, or waitresses…or any of a million other occupations we’re temperamentally/intellectually/otherwise unsuited for. Somehow that doesn’t attract so much judgement.

      Just because I wouldn’t be good at something, and/or wouldn’t enjoy doing it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. It just means I’m better off making a different choice.

  • Anonymous 1.04.2011, 5:47 am

    How about:
    “work in” moms and
    “work out” moms?
    Both are hard and both contribute equally to society and families. Amen!
    Can't think of any catchy titles for either.

  • abby 1.04.2011, 6:27 am

    Could we call ourselves “second shift moms”? I am fortunate to have a husband that does A TON around the house, but many working out of the house moms (that is cumbersome) don't. That means, work all day, work all night. How's that for fair? Or what about the moms who have to work 2 jobs? Or are single moms? Or just enjoy working?

    I just wish we could all talk about how hard it is to be a parent, no matter your situation. It's the hardest, most wonderful thing I will ever do, and anyone who questions my love for my girls because I'm only home nights and weekends (sounds like a cell phone plan) better not say it within earshot.

    Sorry. I'll leave room for other comments now.

  • LazyMom 1.04.2011, 10:46 am

    “How can you leave your kid and go back to work?!”
    …easily…best thing for both of us.

  • Marinka 1.04.2011, 12:24 pm

    “Can't you go back to work once your children grow up? They grow up so fast, you know!”

    “It's all about priorities. I'm so glad that I can raise my own children.”

  • Sarah Kubinski 1.04.2011, 12:29 pm

    I love, “But all of your money must go to childcare. What's the point? Especially because they are probably sick all of the time.”

  • Mom101 1.04.2011, 12:35 pm

    @Natanya, that's a wonderful answer. I'm going to use that!

    And I would agree, when I meet a mom who stays home I sometimes say, “wow, how do you do it all.” It's not meant to be an insult. When other moms say the same to me, I just smile and say, “Not very well.”

  • Anonymous 1.04.2011, 1:28 pm

    I believe as a mom it is my job to show my kids you can do anything you put your mind to. Yes, I work outside the home and at home. But, my kids who have survived daycare and preschool and are happy and healthy love being with friends. They also love spending time with me. I do all I can for my kids. I volunteer for their schools. I serve as a girl scout leader. I have them in several activities. I volunteer for my own organizations without kids. And yes, I work full time. I am lucky that I have a supportive job/boss and family. I do try to do it all. It isn't perfect but life isn't perfect.

    Nothing ticks me off more than hearing the phrases about someone else raising my kids (in daycare) or how much I miss. Well, I can say I have an excellent daycare that is much like a family. The teachers are wonderful and my kids love them just like they would any member of their family. Also, my kids have thrived but being around other kids. It is good for them.

    I think moms try to judge each other too much. When in reality, no one has the perfect way of doing things, perfect family or perfect child. No one is perfect. But, we all do the best we can to raise happy, well-rounded kids.

  • Brittany at Mommy Words 1.04.2011, 1:35 pm

    You should hear what people say when they find out I put my kids in morning pre-school at 1 years old. It would seem the assumption is that I lay around and get hot rock massages or maybe have a trsy with the poolboy for the pool we don;t have. Really, I am trying to start a business and when I say that many have said, “oh, so you don't really work huh?”

    I am floored. While I don;t really make a lot of money yet, I really work my ass off.

    Ugh. Always good to get that off my chest.

  • Mel @ Table For Two and a Half 1.04.2011, 1:35 pm

    I have gotten way too many in the short year I have been working since my son was born. Often it's along the lines of “Didn't you want to stay home?” or “Do you really need the money?” As if I don't want to spend time with my child or my personal finances are of any business to them. But the worst, by far, was:

    “Aren't you worried he's going to think his teacher is his real mommy?”

    Throatpunch.

  • From Belgium 1.04.2011, 1:39 pm

    “why do you work? Your husband is a lawyer.”
    Told the B**** honestly :'because I like the financial freedom and because you never know what could happen' And my kids like daycare thank you very much.

  • needsnewbatteries 1.04.2011, 1:46 pm

    Once after an overnight un-medicated birth that included hours and hours of physical labor support, I sat down in my doula clients hospital room. The baby was in the nursery, the mom happily chatting and sending her man out for breakfast for all of us. He looked at me resentfully and said, “This must be a nice break for you from the kids.”
    I politely informed him that when I got home from working overnight with his family, my family would be just waking up and needing all the love, support and snacks they get every other day of the week. My husband would go to his job by 9 and I'd be mothering the rest of the day on no sleep.

    They'd already paid me.

  • PunditMom 1.04.2011, 1:49 pm

    Well, not to be a humorless wet blanket, but the phraseology is sort of a big deal because it dates back decades to the time when mothers had to fight to be viewed as more than the sum of their child-rearing duties. It's a question of respecting people's choices and being aware, not being uber-PC.

    And actually, I prefer “Work outside the home for money.” :)

  • Amelia Sprout 1.04.2011, 1:51 pm

    Anything assuming that there are financial reasons for you working. I have been told by a manager at my work (not my own, thankfully, I would have sued her ass) that they think if it is financially feasible that women should stay home.
    While not verbal, I deal frequently with being in a field (IT) where after hours work is regular, and where there is this expectation that I can't handle that because I have a kid. For the record, I have nursed my kid while I took calls from users who couldn't find their keyboard from a hole in their… I do also have a husband who equally parents the kid.
    One last one. My husband work who assumes that because I am the mom, even though I have a full time job that pays nearly what his does, that I will be the one that stays home with the sick kid. He always got crap for that and going with me to well visits. Misogynistic bastards.

  • I'm Angela! 1.04.2011, 1:57 pm

    Thank you, Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma for stating every single thing on my mind.

    I got comments while working. I get comments now that I stay at home. All the assumptions about working and not-working are hurtful.

  • Liz@thisfullhouse 1.04.2011, 2:07 pm

    I recently watched an interview with Diane Sawyer the other night (because, you know, my couch was holding me hostage) and she had a fascinating story about how her mother worked during the day, came home, drove her kids to activities (there were 9 children in her family) then took care of keeping the house at night.

    What was so fascinating is Ms. Sawyer stating her thoughts as (and I'm paraphrasing here, because I can't quite remember exactly what she said and I'm old-ish) it's just what a lot of moms did, at the time.

    End of story, no apologies, I just love that.

    I tend to wonder if this conversation will still be going on 30 years from now?

  • mannahattamamma.com 1.04.2011, 2:08 pm

    It amazes me that women still have to defend their choices, regardless of what the choice may be. Why is it that so many people feel at liberty to determine–and say out loud–what is in a woman's best interest and, by extension, in the best interest of her family? And yet still, even now, in this (theoretically) enlightened era of co-parenting dads, no one blinks an eyelash when men work full time up to, through, and after the birth of their children. Hmm.

  • Mahreen from VeniVidiBlogi 1.04.2011, 2:08 pm

    “Aren't you worried that you'll miss all the important milestones by being away from your kids so often?”

    Die From Guilt Overload.

  • Cora & Mike 1.04.2011, 2:11 pm

    A personal favorite:

    “Daycare is concentration camp for kids!!!”

  • Cora & Mike 1.04.2011, 2:11 pm

    A personal favorite:

    “Daycare is concentration camp for kids!!!”

  • Anonymous 1.04.2011, 2:12 pm

    I am a SAHM. “Don't you feel like you are just wasting your education?”

  • Muskrat 1.04.2011, 2:15 pm

    from a woman to a woman: “I just didn't feel it was worth it, considering any salary I made wouldn't even pay my husband's taxes.”

    or

    “I just didn't want to spend 40 hours a week trying to earn enough money to pay someone else to raise my kids.”

    or

    “Did you see that Dateline with the hidden cameras in the daycares? I can't imagine handing my child to those people!”

  • Mrs. Q. 1.04.2011, 2:47 pm

    “I wouldn't put my dogs in daycare, let alone my kids.”

    Um… Wow.

    That was probably said by someone who says, “my dogs are my children” and then leaves them at home while they go to work.

  • Jennifer 1.04.2011, 2:54 pm

    I think I've been really lucky because I can't remember anyone ever really saying things like this to me. At least not people I know in real life. I've of course been in online forums where other members throw out all kinds of nasty stuff at one another. Which is why I no longer participate in those types of things.

    But… my first reaction when I read this was that if someone would have been snippy with me like that my response would have probably been, “oh yeah, I do all of that stuff too. I just don't have as much time to do it.”

  • Susan 1.04.2011, 3:00 pm

    I thought it was genius when I got the “oh, your husband still isn't making enough for you to stay home?”

    ((sigh))

  • Kathy (p/t writer, f/t mom) 1.04.2011, 3:13 pm

    I work at home; which means I get shit from both ends: SAHM and WMs. Since I'm home anyways…can I carpool, p/u sick kids, go for coffee, etc.
    Then there's part 2: when I take one look at SAHM w older kids and say, she so needs a job. With a paycheck. Time to take off the yoga pants and put on the working girl clothes. Yeah, I know. I'll duck.

  • The818 1.04.2011, 3:15 pm

    For me, it's “Do you have a minute?”

    @BostonMamas – ugh what IS that?! I'm a work-inside-the-house-at-a-non-mom-job Mom, and my Mom is our promary childcare during the week. Which apparently to her means social hour, or that I should help her appeal decisions to her insurance company all day.

    Maybe if I started wearing a power suit and fab heels while I sit at my desk she'll get the picture.

  • toyfoto 1.04.2011, 3:16 pm

    I know there are days when I can't handle ANYTHING people say to me and I wish technology would hurry up and get to the stage where I don't actually HAVE to interact with another human ever again.

    Then I realize I'm the one who needs the filter, not the people talking.

  • JustMom420zaks 1.04.2011, 3:17 pm

    Are people SERIOUSLY going to be saying this shit to me when I finally get my nursing????
    Oh HEEEEELLL no!

  • Didda 1.04.2011, 3:22 pm

    I'm a sahm. and the reason I am is because after paying daycare expenses…I would have had less than 50 dollars left out of my measly pay. So I quit because I it seemed odd for me to leave my children for 10 hrs a day with someone else just so I could work to pay that person to watch my children. Plus I felt I could be a more influential parent if I was home with them. That's what works for ME.

    Why would that be offensive to anyone? I'm not judging anybody. That was just the reality of my situation. And really, I have more things to worry about than what other moms decide works for their families.

    I think everyone should take the chip off their shoulders and quit feeling guilty about the choices we make in the best interest of our families. All comments aren't necessarily juding. Perhaps people are just talking about what works for them. And perhaps people who say how sad it must be to leave your baby and go back to work are just remembering how say they were. Maybe just maybe all people are trying to be offensive. Maybe some are. Who gives a flip about what other people think. Until they walk in my shoes, they don't know.

  • Robin (noteverstill) 1.04.2011, 3:23 pm

    I'm a big fan of variations on the theme of my choices are detrimental: “oh, so they can't go to KinderMusik (at 10am on weekdays)?” “it's great that that you can be so relaxed that you don't mind a messy house” “well, I'm sure your kids understand why you can't volunteer this morning.” Thanks for the support!!

  • Anonymous 1.04.2011, 3:44 pm

    I work from home 3 days/week while the kiddos are in preschool/daycare. People seem confused when I explain that I work from home–they think that working from home means I should be caring for my children at home while simultaneously performing my job at home. That would be an impossible task in my profession. It's funny, because of my being part-time, I get comments from others about both working and staying at home.

    I avoid asking any mother that I just met what “they do”, I think it's so easy for someone to take that question/answer the wrong way especially when you first meet. As you get to know someone, it will come up. And plus, I could care less if someone puts their kid in daycare 80 hrs/week or stays at home, it's not my business. The only reason I might ask is just to see if we have common careers/interests.

  • Mom101 1.04.2011, 4:12 pm

    @Didda I don't hear anyone complaining about parents with other situations, or thoughtful discussions about the various choices we make.

    I think what's tough to swallow are judgments, criticisms or outright attacks presented as observations.

    It would be nice to get to a place where we never care about the things that other people say to us. But it might be more productive to get to a place where other people don't feel the need to say hurtful things.

  • Anonymous 1.04.2011, 4:14 pm

    I have great interest in this post and all the replies. But after reading everything, I just felt sad. I believe that most of these statements aren't said often, and that the majority of people aren't this clueless or mean. I'm hopeful that people said these things without bad intentions, they are just ignorant. I don't know. Is there anything positive to take away from this? Or is this a good start to understanding how we hurt other people?

  • Mom101 1.04.2011, 4:23 pm

    @Anon I agree with all of the above. Most people are not clueless and mean. But the few that are sure can hurt.

    I think the column is going to be a two-sided thing…things you never say to a WOHM/SAHM. I would imagine that through the humor and our collective nods of recognition that yeah; we try to be better at respecting other's choices, in remembering how much it can sting when others don't do the same for us.

    I don't know – what are your thoughts?

  • Lissa 1.04.2011, 4:38 pm

    “When are you going back to work at a real job?”

    I worked hard to build a career that I was proud of. I continued to work until my oldest son was 2 years old. The unfortunate truth was that our nanny was earning more than I was and my job offered little flexibilty. Ironically, we could no longer afford child care once our 2nd child was born.

    I have started working from home but that has its own challenges. I have to explain to those that work outside the home that I do work and to those that don't work for pay that I am not always available to “help” since I have deadlines to meet. It also means telling my 3 young children that even though I am here, I cannot always drop what I am doing to play with them.

    I can't get a minute to myself yet am supposed to feel good because “at least you don't have to get dressed for work”. I miss getting dressed for work. I miss the adult interaction & sometimes having lunch with other grown-ups. I did work outside the home so I know the hard parts too.

    I admire and respect all parents that do the best for their families in the way that works for them. It always surprises me that people feel the need to be all judgey with each other about this. I have such high (and probably unrealistic) standards for myself that I have no problem finding fault and laying guilt all on my own!

    I'm just gonna sit here and look at that pretty green grass on your side of the fence!

  • tallgirl 1.04.2011, 4:43 pm

    When I hear people disparging daycare, I let them know how those people are paid to interact with the kids. If I was home with them, I would be folding laundry, playing on the internet, and doing other household chores.

    I love it when people make working a moral thing. Uhmm… really? Because most “SAHM” that I know still send their kids to a preschool. You call it preschool, I call it daycare. I know few that are actually at home with their kids.

    I had a dad at the park tell me he found that if they gave up a few things, then they could swing his wife staying at home. My friend said it best when she said cutting coupons was not going to replace her salary.

    One set of girlfriends told me that no one knew their kid as well as them. My response was that my son and I pooped at the same time. How is that for being bonded!

  • kilgore 1.04.2011, 4:44 pm

    I can see what Diddo was saying. The problem is that as moms we have allowed society to worm into our brains and make us feel guilty for almost any choice we make. From conception until the day we die, there is SOMETHING we could be doing better. Granted, there are always going to be jerks, and there are always going to be people who say things that are well-meaning but a little clueless. If women can collectively decide to be more empowered in our decisions it becomes less about making sure you don't say the offensive thing, and more about being secure in the knowledge we are doing the best we can for our families.

  • Melissa 1.04.2011, 4:47 pm

    “You must be so ambitious. I would miss mine so much I couldn't focus on work.”

    “Oh no, I stay home. There is no job more important.”

    “Aren't you worried about what they're teaching her? I want my kid(s) to have my values.”

    ARGH.

  • toyfoto 1.04.2011, 4:47 pm

    I just really wish I didn't have to read another column that fans this fire, no matter how funny, witty or wise.

    I wish we could just let these hurt pass.

  • Toni 1.04.2011, 4:50 pm

    A couple of weeks ago I was tucking my 5 yr old into bed and he told me he wanted to be a policeman when he grew up. We talked for a while and then he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

    Before I could answer him, he said “Oh yeah. I know what you are. You're a family.”

  • Kelsey 1.04.2011, 4:52 pm

    This thread has made me afraid to say anything to anyone about anything ever.

    From here on, I pledge to assume that every comment made to me comes from a place other than spite or judgement.

  • Kami 1.04.2011, 4:56 pm

    I think I lay the worst comments on myself. Last May, my two year old had a tonsil/adnoidectomy. It's routine, but he's mine and he was so little. He was sick all the time before the surgery. He started at daycare when he was 7 months old. I felt responsible for his needing to get surgery. If I had just stayed home with him, maybe he wouldn't have gotten so sick all the time. But, he had the surgery and now he's better than ever. So, I've moved on to beat myself up about other things. I'm proud to be “a mom who works in a building other than the one she lives in. For money.”

  • Mom101 1.04.2011, 4:57 pm

    @ToyFoto I don't know if it fans flames to acknowledge that some people say hurtful (or hilariously ignorant) things to us, perhaps without knowing it.

    It only becomes Mommy Wars when the response is, “oh yeah? Well SAHMS do xyz.”

    I don't do that. A couple of commenters here have but not many.

  • CPA Mom 1.04.2011, 5:04 pm

    I've heard “You're so uninvolved” because I'm not available for midmorning coffees or mid day classroom parties. Um, no. I'm working to keep a roof over our heads.

  • Cloud 1.04.2011, 5:08 pm

    @toyfoto- so don't read the column. No one is going to make you read it.

    But how are we going to learn how not to offend each other if we don't even talk about it? Surely we can have an open conversation without fanning the fire?

    I'm really, really comfortable with my choices. I don't feel guilty for using day care, although I did feel a little guilty for how happy I was to see my kids head off to day care today after the holiday break. I'm happy with my life. And my salary more than covers day care for two kids (when I'm working… right now I'm unemployed, but that is another can of worms). But still, some of the comments I get hurt. It is a funny thing about judgmental comments- they make us feel judged. And that doesn't feel good.

    If I'm saying things that feel judgmental to someone else, I want to know so that I can be more careful, because I don't want to judge other mothers. And if people are saying things that feel judgmental to me, I think they should know that, too. If they stop, then I'll know that they weren't really judging me. If they don't, then I'll know that I should walk away from them. But if we don't at least try to talk to each other, we will end up segregating into different “camps” and we will lose the chance to learn from and help each other.

  • CPA Mom 1.04.2011, 5:10 pm

    and AMEN to Natanya @ Fete and Feast – I was myself asked to leave the parent school board because I couldn't volunteer during tax season – I wasn't committed enough to their needs.

  • hodgepodgeandstrawberries 1.04.2011, 5:11 pm

    I've tried all different combinations of working and mothering – full time work outside the home with my kid in daycare; part time working from home with my kids in the care of a friend; and now taking care of other people's kids so I can bring in some income while staying home.

    This was largely a financial decision – to pay for care for my sons if I were to return to full time work would eat up 75% of my take-home pay in daycare bills.

    But what I hate the most is this attitude that I must be stressed, or miserable, or just waiting for my youngest to get old enough for school because clearly only crazy people offer home care for littles.

    I've given up trying to convince people that this is the most rewarding job I've ever had. It's the constant getting metaphorically patted on the head that I find galling.

  • Beth 1.04.2011, 5:13 pm

    A nosey buttinsky-face aunt of my husband's told me that “it doesn't matter if you work (outside the home) because you are just a secretary” but my sister in law who is a Doctor of Pharmacy “will have a hard time doing it because what she does is so important, requires focus and long hours”.

    I got my parenting and my career choice dissed in one sentence.

  • Lindsey 1.04.2011, 5:22 pm

    “It must be so nice to have all of that 'you time' at the office. To do what you want.”

    Um, yes. This from a woman who does not work and has a full-time nanny for her two children.

    I bit my lip but wanted to respond that most of the time the office was just another place where people told me what to do!

  • toyfoto 1.04.2011, 5:26 pm

    @cloud

    I'll have to read it because, as I said, it will be witty and wise. ;)

  • Marianne 1.04.2011, 5:30 pm

    I have gotten the same comments about someone else raising my kids. I have always wondered, though, how is it OK to leave them once they get older? Aren't you handing your kids over to the school system to “raise” them once they start Kindergarten? The few hours you see them each night before they go to bed is nothing as compared to all the hours spent at school, right?

  • Jill Amery 1.04.2011, 5:49 pm

    (When my own mother visits).. “That laptop is around again? Are you working? (insert disapproving frown)” Yes, and also being a good mother. Actually, I am trying to raise my children and work from home. And in 2011, laptops can do other things, including give you phone numbers for the zoo (so I can take the kids) or teach the kids how to count.

  • va_grown 1.04.2011, 5:49 pm

    I think it would be great for people to start thinking before they talk. Maybe they really DON'T realize how painful, mean, cruel, or thoughtless some of their comments are. But I have to say, I get them much more than “once in a while.”

    I work outside the home, and without a lot of details, I would desperately like to stay home. On the wrong day, it can throw me into a very unpleasant emotional tailspin for someone to look at me and say, “But don't you miss them?” Of course I freakin' do, thanks for reminding me! And can I just say, I DO want to be home, but I know several SAHM that constantly want a break. It's not some magic cure all.

    Here's another one I've gotten more than once. “3 kids? You must just be working to pay for daycare. Wouldn't it be cheaper to stay home?” Seriously? “Mind your own business” springs to mind.

    One I heard just the other day, “I wouldn't want to leave my kids with strangers at daycare that might molest them or something.” What do you say? Really, what CAN you say?

  • Natalie 1.04.2011, 5:54 pm

    I got “Aren't you affraid they will call the sitter Mommy instead?” or “Don't you want to be their Mommy? I know I would move heaven and earth to make sure I stay home with my kids.” I always hate how narrow-minded people can be. I view it as my kids are learning that we have to work hard for everything we have, and in the meantime, they get to go have fun with their friends and learn new things.

  • Nicole Feliciano 1.04.2011, 5:58 pm

    Sigh, been there said that. And it does bring up so much hurt (and it goes without saying that men don't have this conversation at the playground or the water cooler).

    I'm not a big label girl (unless we are talking about shoes–then yes please Jimmy Choos).

    What matters is what you feel in your heart. Just like a good Hallmark card. You and I know that Liz G. values moms of all stripes. Don't beat yourself up.

    As for me, I have working mom envy–oh how I want a desk and to not work my 3-4 hr stints from Starbucks between drop off pick up and swim class. That's it I'm a WASM (work at starbucks mom)

  • Heather 1.04.2011, 6:19 pm

    When I get those comments, I like to rattle off all the benefits of day care and working outside the home (as I see them for MY family):
    1. My daughter was reading by 4.
    2. My other daughter learned structure and how to play well with others (not something I could do as well at home, alone).
    3. My older daughter has missed school exactly three days in the two years she's been in.
    4. I'm sane and attentive mother because I work. I find great fulfillment in my job that makes me a better mother. When I'm with my children, I'm really with them.

  • Issas Crazy World 1.04.2011, 6:23 pm

    Okay, I don't have time to read all of the comments, but I'll be back to do so later. I always love your comment section.

    When I used to work 12-14 hour days and my girls were babies and toddlers and in daycare and then with their dad, I'd get asked why I bothered having them. I'd just destined them to a life of therapy. When I quit my job and we moved to Colorado for his dream and I spent two years as a not working, stay at home mom, I got told, I'd just ruined my entire life. I'd never ever get a job again. Now that I'm working full time, but at home, I hear crap about how I'm at home, so why can't I volunteer at the school. Hi, because I'm WORKING. Now I'm looking for a corporate job again and god only knows what people will say about that.

    You can never win. Nothing is ever enough. Everyone always has an idea on what you can and should be doing differently.

    Basically? I've done it all and it all has pluses and minuses. I stopped caring what anyone else thought of it long ago. I had too. For my own sanity.

  • Anonymous 1.04.2011, 7:08 pm

    One thing that surprises me – how society hasn't adjusted to the new norm. Maybe it's just my location, but the norm is for women to go back to work. Out of 50 women in my new mommy group, in Brooklyn, I was the ONLY one who planned on staying home with the kids. I was shocked and disappointed that I was going to have a hard time finding adult company during the day. I'm surprised with the majority of women going back to work, there are still so many judgments made about their choices. So, with so many WOHMs out there in the work force, why hasn't the general attitude not changed? If it hasn't yet, I'm sure over time it will. SAHMs are becoming a minority. I think many people are nostalgic about a previous time where children were typically home with their mothers.

  • Elaine 1.04.2011, 7:31 pm

    Am I the only one who doesn't feel this battle? Some of my mom-friends stay home full-time, some work for wages full-time, most balance the demands of parenting with somewhat-flexibly-scheduled work, and all of us are stretched too thin. Mostly, we say, “How does anyone do it?”

    Maybe it's because I live in tolerant SoCal, but it seems to me that we can call off the battle, shrug off the guilt, and just get on with the regular challenge of trying to cook dinner, play with our kid, pay the bills, talk to adult friends, and care for ourselves all at the same time. Because it is a challenge for all of us, whether we work for wages or not.

  • kittenpie 1.04.2011, 7:43 pm

    Talking with my boss about childcare I commented that I was actually a big fan of daycare. She looked at me like I was crazy, and asked, “WHY?!” Well, these are people who are trained in child development and early education, and will give my kids lots of interesting, stimulating activities and opportunities, for one thing, and they get lots of social interaction, and learn how to follow routine with a group – great prep for school. They become more independent than many stay-at-home kids do, according to my kinder-teacher husband.

    And as for me? I have wanted to do what I do since forever, and it's part of me. I love my job. I think I can love my kids AND my job. I also make more than my husband, so my staying home wouldn't be practical even if it were possible to live on one income. Further? I also think I have a responsibility to my own future – by working, I ensure a pension and income once my kids leave, so I can look after myself. Trust me, I think my kids will appreciate that later!

    I have been totally annoyed by people going on about how it is SO important for children to be at home with parents (I disagree – my mom worked outside and I NEVER felt unloved, it was just normal) or with “someone who loves them,” ie. family. Honestly? I've never met a childcare worker who didn't love kids – they sure don't go into it for the glamour or the paycheck, and a top-notch daycare with people who love kids and are happy in their surroundings is a wonderful place for kids to be part of a community of friends and many adults who care for them.

    Sorry for the essay – I just find it amazing that people don't really know about daycare or about my situation now and later in life when they are prepared to talk about those things!

  • Mandy B 1.04.2011, 7:51 pm

    I stay at home with my kids. I also work 3 days a month outside of the house and it is the most glorious 3 days of my month. I wish I had it in me to work a part time job that was more regular because as much as I love my kids and as much as I love the flexibility, I miss adult interaction and having something to talk to my husband about and discussing poopy diapers just doesn't do it for me. I do have to say I am glad I got to stay home with them as babies, but now they are hitting toddler ages, they need more engagement than I can give and I'd be more than happy to work part time just to pay for preschool for them. They love it and I love working. It kind of makes me feel like a bad mom when a few of my stay-at-home friends can't fathom that I'd like to work and put my kids in preschool or daycare. But whatever. :)

  • Denise 1.04.2011, 7:57 pm

    “I don't know why women bother having children in the first place if they're only going to go back to work.”

    Ummm….ok.

    Unless I missed the line where they passed out the crystal balls so I could gaze into my future as a mother, there's NO WAY I could've known what it would be like to have kids before I had kids.

    The conversation is incredibly important. It's important, yes, to realize that some people's scathing comments hit our own nerves of guilt, frustration, etc. I've had my fair share of emotional responses to comments that seemed biting but really weren't. To me, more important, to @mom101's point, that many of the examples cited here are delivered with venom and judgement, not naivete.

    In order to grow BEYOND where we are now (and I believe we have room for a lot of growth), we gotta share and talk and keep learning.

    I'll forward to your article!

  • Paula/adhocmom 1.04.2011, 7:58 pm

    I agree with Manhattanmama. It's so unfortunate that women still have to justify their decisions. They are all completely valid – and motherhood is difficult to pull of regardless of the path chosen. I seriously hope that all of our kids will have an easier time! I don't think true change will be made in the work place though until women stop judging other women!

  • mint and orange 1.04.2011, 8:09 pm

    From my father-in-law…
    “Let's just hope my son can make enough money so you won't have to work anymore.”
    I'm sorry, did I say that I don't like working?? I don't think so! Also, talk about assuming that my husband is to bear the brunt of our income responsibilities! Poor poor husband.

    What I don't get, is why all this pressure on the Mom to decide whether she works out of, or in, her home? I wish it were the norm for Dads to also meet at this crossroads, and allow more choices for both parents. Unfortunately, most companies find this completely unrealistic and, therefore, men aren't usually allowed flextime like women.

  • Yuliya 1.04.2011, 8:21 pm

    I'm a stay-mostly-at-home-because my-kid-hates-the-car-mom, but I send my dog to daycare at least once a week. Upon finding this out I've had people (who have no rambunctious labs) tell me that we shouldn't have a dog if we're not going to take responsibility for it.
    SERIOUSLY!
    (And I yes I feel guilty for sending the dog to daycare. I need help. Of the mental variety.

  • mrsjrdrakeiii 1.04.2011, 8:22 pm

    Some of the comments us moms have endured are really unkind! So sorry any of us have had to hear them! I suppose if I had to choose something that I wouldn’t want said to me as a WOHM, it would be “You don’t spend enough time with your kids if you’re working.” If that were said to me, and it has been, I’d say that my happy, always got-a-smile-straight-A-gettin’ little guy and the tons of hugs and kisses and stories read together, trips taken together, knock-knock jokes told to each other, lunches at school together, etc., will take that statement and shove it where the sun don’t shine, thank you very much! ;-)
    Perhaps this may seem overly idealistic and simplistic (ah, if only life was just good,easy times and wonderful wine and great chocolate!), but maybe what we really need to get to here is dropping the overly specific labels instead of creating new labels or tweaking existing ones. And it should start with us moms first so it can (hopefully) spread to those around us. SAHM , WAHM, or WOHM, etc.-hey, they all end with the word MOM. Why compartmentalize a life role/job that we all agree (or at least from the comment posts it appears we agree) is 24/7/365 role/job regardless of our physical location? And oh my, why oh why judge each other so harshly when we’re all moms just with different living situations? Our approaches to motherhood may differ, but the issues of raising children are fairly universal: the joy of a new baby, the loads of diapers and sleepless nights (or days if you work graveyard), the terrible-twos and monster tantrums, trying to get everything done AND keeping the kids entertained, teaching manners and picky eaters, first-day-of-school anxieties, worries about our kids’ futures, etc. Why not just appreciate each other and what we have in common as moms and support each other instead of using the presence of paid employment (or lack thereof) as a yard-stick in determining the merit of one’s motherly involvement and love for her kids. I think that Motherhood Uncensored put it quite well in her recent post on her blog about being extra careful about judging people. You just never know when that bitch known as 'karma' is going to come back around and give you a giant helping of crow to eat (for instance-WOHMs, what would happen if you lost your job and suddenly become a SAHM? And SAHMs, what would happen if hubby suddenly lost his job and you had to go back to work?). Because I can’t imagine a single mom around who, if life gets out-of-hand/crazy/overwhelming or just suddenly goes pear-shaped, wants to hear “Well, I told you so! You shouldn’t have stayed home/gone back to work/work part-time-this is what you get!” What they’d rather hear, I’d imagine, is “What can I do to help?” or “Here’s a hug and you can cry all you need and then we’ll see what we can do together to make this situation better.” (A good, and perhaps much-needed glass of wine may need to accompany that conversation).

  • Anonymous 1.04.2011, 8:26 pm

    I have been; a working away from home mom, a stay at home mom, and have worked in a day care center.

    Working in the day care job was the most draining. Staying at home the second most draining.

    I can tell you that it is not an insult to say that a stay at home mom needs time away from children. The same as all parents need time away as a couple without children. Everyone needs time away. When I worked I enjoyed the quiet time in my car on the way to and from work, and even if work was stressful it was a change of pace, and I was better able to deal with stress at home again.
    The downside to working was that I missed my children most of the time, and crammed family time into my days off.
    It wasn't easier or harder to stay home because of amount of work. When you have children it is work either way. That is why you have to pay to have a nanny or daycare. It is not an easy job.
    Either way, I don't think people are trying to be defensive with their comments or what they believe about daycare or not. It's just their opinion, or personal experience.
    Personally, I think people just take everything way too personally these days. You can't seem to have an opinion or speak at all without offending someone. Maybe we should all just lighten up.

  • Krista 1.04.2011, 8:41 pm

    “I could never let my kids be raised by total strangers.”

    As if I would leave my children in the care of people I don't know. Just because they go to daycare (whether in home or a center or a nanny) doesn't mean that I didn't research the shit out of the place and each and every person that will care for my children. They are all qualified, responsible, caring people.

    Yes, at first, we may not know each other well but it doesn't take long and before you know it our daycare providers feel like family. We talk about my kids, sure… but we also talk about one provider's hunt for a new home, another's son leaving for college, another's great vacation to Mexico…. in short, they are not strangers and it's insulting that anyone would think otherwise.

  • Mom101 1.04.2011, 8:59 pm

    I'm seeing a theme develop in comments and on Twitter, which often comes up in these kinds of discussions: “Why have labels at all? Aren't we all just [moms/people/Americans/Real Houswives fans]?”

    I have this debate with my mom too, who's anti-label; labels give us the ability to describe and understand our world.

    It's frustrating when there's no good word for something you want to describe with precision. I also hate that there's no gender-non-specific singular pronoun for his/her. Argh!

    yes, I'm a word nerd.

  • Ashley295 1.04.2011, 9:16 pm

    I think the worst was form someone who knew our family who asked, “Doesn't your husband still work at ______? He does? Oh, I just assumed that that paid well.”

    I think that bothered me mostly because of the assumptions about our finances than anything.

    When I was on mat leave I think the most ridiculous thing I kept hearing as a SAHM was “What do you do all day?”

    I wanted to slap those people, especially on the days that I'd spent the entire night calming down a sick toddler and a colicy newborn and still had to get up at 5 am to tend to their needs all freakin day, only to do it all over again the next day, and the next, and the next…..

    However, I enjoy being a SAHM and a WOHM, I've switched a couple of times because I can't decide which is actually better!

  • Elz 1.04.2011, 10:28 pm

    I resent the “I'm so sorry.” I love my kids with every ounce of everything in my being, but I am proud of what I do. I am good at what I do. I have a career, not a job, and I believe that my working life has a direct and beneficial impact on my daughters. Don't tell me you are sorry that I HAVE to work. My work is hard and stressful, but it was my choice to educate myself and it is my choice now to use that education to benefit my clients (and by extension thousands of patients every day)…getting off the soapbox…

  • Melissa 1.04.2011, 10:59 pm

    “IT must be so hard to leave your kids…”

    “I wish I had a job to escape to every Monday morning.”

    Yeah, there are times it's nice, but it's no escape. When I come into my office every morning, I walk into a lion's den of stress, workloads, deadlines and politics and then get to come home at night and walk into a lion's den of stress, workloads, deadlines and politics. So, yeah, there's no ESCAPE!!

    I have stayed home with my little ones and I have worked FT and PT with my little ones and it's all freaking HARD. Probably my happiest time was working PT, though, to be honest. Best of both worlds.

  • 404monkey 1.04.2011, 11:02 pm

    I'm pregnant, not yet a mom, and plan to return to work. As I've already found with advice about pregnancy, I think most comments and advice you receive are far more about the person giving them than about yourself. The problem is that once you have a kid (from what I can tell), you are always trying hard to make things work and don't really have a buffer that allows you to step back and practice objective compassion.

    In an ideal world, I would want to respond to at least some of these remarks with something like, “I think everyone's experience of parenthood is different. Tell me more about how you reached your decision.” Because that's where a worthwhile dialog can begin–with listening to each other.

    But let's face it, I'm human. Once I'm sleep-deprived with a three-month-old I've just put in day care and someone has an abrasive comment, I'll probably be more focused on coming up with a snappy response. That is, if I don't just stare at the person dumbly and then rant an hour later to my best friend on the phone. :)

  • Actuary Mom 1.04.2011, 11:07 pm

    The blog is so funny. I didn't realize that I was potentially insulting SAHMs when I say that I work. Oops. I work full-time, and I enjoy it. Oops again. I guess I shouldn't have had a baby!

  • Mom101 1.04.2011, 11:12 pm

    You know Actuary Mom, you are probably insulting parents with unplanned pregnancies when you say Oops.

    Good to know.

  • Randi Skaggs 1.05.2011, 12:59 am

    I made the choice to go back to work after being a SAHM for over two years, so the question I get a lot is “Why would you do THAT?” And when I tell them I actually love my job and consider it an important part of who I am and that, the happier I am, the better parent I can be, they usually say something like, “huh. OK. If you say so.”

  • MommyByDay 1.05.2011, 1:27 am

    I'm a good “mommy by night”.

    *giggle*

  • Leigh Ann 1.05.2011, 1:42 am

    Unfortunately, labels seem to be a fact of life…at least for right now. Having been home full-time for 11 months, and then “working outside the home” part-time and now full-time, I've experienced the gamut. Of course, I've been schooled around my “stay at home” time in that I was on mat leave, so it was somehow different. In any case, I lean towards “employed moms” – but the “unemployed” label has other negative connotations that don't necessarily reflect a choice to stay home, so I'm not sure about that label in terms of flipping it to moms who are home with their kids. I'd be interested to hear what those moms think. Then again, there's nothing that says they have to be parallel labels either. I know there have been distinctions made as to whether employed moms work at home or in an office, but as someone who works at home and in an office both, I don't personally see a distinction. Either way, you're employed, whether by self or another entity. All this to say, it'd be nice if moms could just support each other's decisions – some of which are made by choice and others for financial reasons and still others a combo of both. We need more support for just doing the hard work of being mom – it's hard no matter what choice you make about paid work. More “way to go girl” and less “your choices suck/are less than/etc” would go a long way to building a strong community of supporters, which we sorely need as 21st century parents.

  • toyfoto 1.05.2011, 2:16 am

    I am laughing so hard at the potential, though. There really is no end to the possibilities.

    You could have the iPhone it in Mom VS.
    The Analog Mom; Remote Access Mommy (sounds a tad dirty) VS. Easy Access Mommy (ahem). And why not piss off the other 49 percent of the human race and call ourselves The Moms Formerly Known as Dads.

    I mean, seriously, didn't Chelsea Clinton famously tell her teachers to call her dad (a sitting President) in case of emergency because her mom was very busy?

  • Liz in California 1.05.2011, 2:20 am

    My sisters and I were raised by two full-time working parents who had lots of support from grandparents and a great daycare center. Now I am a SAHM who lives far away from family. I know that staying home with my kids is the best path for my family. And I know that my own mother was a great WOHM! There are trade-offs, no matter what path you take and there are SO many reasons people make the decisions they do in life– you just can't judge until you've heard their story! I don't think I've ever met a mom who wasn't trying hard to make the best home and the best life for her family that she could. I don't think any of us should be offended by the term “homemaker”– no matter how we get that job done.

  • Jennifer (ponderosa) 1.05.2011, 3:09 am

    @mom101 What I hear in this thread is that many women with children switch from WOHM to SAHM to WAHM and back again several times in the first 18 years of their children's lives.

    That's been my experience in my community, too. I assumed that was particular to my community, which has very very few corporate jobs; even the SAHM's manage their rental properties or run some small etsy-based business on the side; but this thread makes me think it's an American phenomenon.

  • Jennifer (ponderosa) 1.05.2011, 3:16 am

    PS I work remotely for a corporation; I mean, I telecommute from my dining room table; so while I am a working mom with a paycheck I am not a work-outside-the-house mom. You don't get a pass on that term! Need to find another!

  • Indigo Children 1.05.2011, 3:57 am

    also hate when someone says to me (a work at home mom) — “I actually like to work”

    As if someone who chooses to be at home with their children obviously does not like to work??

    It does not have to be so polarized — we can all admit to wanting it all and making the choices that fit our families best.

  • BusyMomofOne 1.05.2011, 4:39 am

    I was a SAHM and am now a WOHM and WAHM, (do I have the letters right?! There are so many variations!) and I can say as much as I loved being at home with my son it is safer for us all if I work. When I was a sahm I somehow lost my ability to focus and rear ended two cars in less than a year!!

  • Meredith 1.05.2011, 5:10 am

    I just moved to a country that has “housewife” listed in the tick your occupation box on the tax form (it also has 'spinster' in the relationship category). I was expressing my shock at this when a new friend said “oh no, honey. It's domestic engineer.” It totally is! This made me feel so much better about my choice to return to work, I am not skilled in either domesticity or engineering. Loving and raising my children is who I am, where or if I work is a separate issue.

  • Megan 1.05.2011, 2:08 pm

    I work full time. My husband stays home full time. When I told another mother about the fact that I work full time she looked at me and said, “Oh! I could never do that! I love my children too much.”

    Implying, of course, that I didn't love my children. I was furious but the comment just showed her ignorance.

  • jembugsmom 1.05.2011, 3:37 pm

    When I was pregnant with my first child, my FIL told me that “both parents working outside the home negatively affected the cohesion of the family unit”.
    Not kidding.
    I've ended up staying at home this whole time, but not because of what he said.

  • Marketing Mommy 1.05.2011, 5:00 pm

    “How do you deal with the mom guilt?”

    Um, by not feeling guilty.

  • Issas Crazy World 1.05.2011, 5:21 pm

    A question I would love to ask, but never do is: was your mom home all the time?

    Because sometimes I think that the people who think it's the only way, were raised that way. My mom always worked and a lot of times was in school as well. I never thought there was anything wrong with my choices, because I figured, hey I turned out fine.

  • Sarahviz 1.05.2011, 7:40 pm

    This truly hits home for me. When the fall 2010 school year started and my youngest entered kindergarten, we said goodbye to our nanny/babysitter who had been working for us for the past 4 years while I went back to work full-time. One day, as my husband was remarking about how good it would feel to not have to pay childcare costs since all 3 boys would be in school full-time, my mother in law, OUT OF EARSHOT OF ME, remarked that my Hubby should be THANKFUL for Lisa (the nanny) for she had “practically raised your children.” And when my husband vehemently defended me/us/our choices as a family (as he should have!), my mother in law retorted, “Well she spent more time with your children than their own mother did!”

    Gah.

  • Jilly 1.05.2011, 9:04 pm

    I think our touchiness stems from our (sometimes) fleeting sense of self confidence. Working to maintain a household is difficult, but it often goes under appreciated. So, we feel vulnerable. (at least I do!) Thank you for sharing!

  • Barbara Fryman 1.05.2011, 9:20 pm

    “Do you HAVE to work, or do you choose to work?”

    Usually from a sahm or a man.

    I now stay at home, and I prefer “home maker” b/c Stay-at-Home-Mom is too effing cumbersome to write on the endless forms that accompany having children and being an adult in general.

    Speaking of labels, my sister is a widow. It is a label she loathes for the inevitable pity it draws. She also loathes “single mom” b/c it implies 1. Her kids' father is a bum or 2. She chose not to “give” her kids a father (Something said right to her face almost RIGHT after her husband died suddenly…also, she was pregnant.)

  • Kim Hosey 1.05.2011, 9:27 pm

    I think sometimes it just has to do with how we percevie people's perceptions/intentions. Or our particular backgrounds. Like when I read “Meow,” it reminds me of how my husband used to make that noise every time I got a little irked, so it kind of makes me insta-bristle. But that's on me. As are our reactions to any well-intentioned comment, I think. But some of those comments? I just don't even see how they could be well intentioned. Come on. A tiny bit of consideration and empathy wouldn't hurt.

    Why have them?? Freaking really?

  • Nina Badzin 1.05.2011, 10:45 pm

    What an excellent topic!!! You'll have to report back on the different ideas people shared. I'm always worried offending people . .. !!!

  • Anonymous 1.06.2011, 3:42 am

    I am a WOHM and my hubby is a SAHD. Love how people assume that I must be a mega-controlling B and hubby must be lazy and unable to hold down a job. Ugh.
    That said, when both of us were WOHP (work outside the home parents) my son, who had been with the same nanny since he was 6 weeks old did in fact call her “mommy” and he called me that too. It was (admittedly heartbreaking) but I came to the conclusion that this was his frame of reference for the women in his life who took care of him. Additionally, my provider had my 2 kids and her 2 kids and that was it. I came to see that my son labeling her that way was a testament to the way she cared for my kids – when they were there they were treated and valued just as her own kids were.

  • Anonymous 1.06.2011, 4:03 am

    Loved reading the comments. I am a travelingmom. I am on the road 3 nights a week working. People love to tell me that ” my husband must be a saint” bc he cares for our daughter nights I am gone. Grr. If I was a businessMAN no one would even blink!
    For us it is about the money- my car allowance alone covers both car payments, gas and insurance. I work so that we can afford for my husband to work in human services counseling alcoholics. We are able to set aside $ to save and they travel with me whenever possible. So sometimes it is about the money!

  • Anonymous 1.06.2011, 6:04 am

    “Do you really trust your husband to stay home with your son?”

    Yes. This was said to me.

    Also, “It must be so hard to be away from your son all day.”

    Nope. I love him to death but I love my work too. This way works for me. :)

  • Olivia 1.06.2011, 3:55 pm

    I also hate that there's no gender-non-specific singular pronoun for his/her. Argh!

    Actually, I've been seeing in some spaces the pronouns “zie” and “hir” being used in place of “he/she” and “his/her”. I hope it catches on soon.

    I like the idea of an article discussing the things that should not be said to either type of mother*. I probably have said something to SAHMs that was offensive to them, so I could learn a thing or two.

    *While we are being pedantic, I HATE being called a mom. I am a mother, and my children call me Mom.

  • Olivia 1.06.2011, 3:59 pm

    Issas, same here. My mother always worked, as did most of my friends' mothers so it would have been more unnatural for me to not work. I'm not sure I would know what to do with myself.

  • Nina 1.06.2011, 5:59 pm

    “I respect your choice.”

    Working outside the home is not a choice of all working moms. Some of us really would like to stay home (OK, maybe work part-time) but can't afford it. People assume that, just because my husband has a good job, my work is optional.

    Also, I get suggestions like, “You know, if you add up the amount of $$ you spend just to have a job (gas, clothes, restaurants, daycare, etc.), you'll realize that you can probably afford to quit.”

    Uh … no. Not necessarily.

  • Anne 1.06.2011, 7:32 pm

    I am a freelance writer and work from home. I send the kids to daycare 3 or 4 days a week so that I can work. I've gotten this gem: “Wait, you are at home and still send your kids to daycare?” Yep, I am working. I can't do that with kids climbing all over me. I can't even check my email when my kids are around unless the Backyardigans happen to be on!

  • kristin 1.06.2011, 8:56 pm

    To change the tone (and I can't believe some of these comments), one of the best things that was said to me on my first day back at work, by my boss, who had worked full time and raised both of her children as a single mom, “Both of my kids went to daycare, and they're amazing adults. She'll be just fine.” Followed by a hug.

    And you know what? She is. I have the utmost respect for all moms, whether you work in or out of the home, because we all know it'sa 24/7 deal. I just hate that people are so judgemental and petty about others life decisions.

    Do what works for you, and let others do what works for them. Or is that a little too “Kumbayah”?

  • Jenni 1.06.2011, 10:10 pm

    “Your husband must be a saint.”

    -Not really, because I imagine saints don't lose their temper or make messes they fail to clean up or forget that it's pajama day at preschool (unless I am equating saintliness with godliness).
    -Why do men who stay home with the children get sainted while women who stay home with the children get tainted?

  • Jessica {Team Rasler} 1.06.2011, 10:52 pm

    I've found that the more secure I was/am in the choice I'm making about balancing my career and motherhood, the less likely I've been to be offended. Whenever I've felt out of whack, people's offhand, biased, or uninformed comments were a lot more apt to irritate me. I wonder what was going on in the life of that woman and how she was feeling about her own choices at the time…

  • GingerB 1.06.2011, 11:58 pm

    Most painful comment that no one should ever say to a working mom, day or night: I just love my kids too much to miss so much of their lives by having them in day care.

    Owie!

    So, my mom was in a rehab wing of a hospital recently, recovering from a couple of strokes, and my Dad has just spoken to me of the Negroes in his small childhood town who would buy snuff, when my mom calls a Pacific Islander nurse’s aide “that nice colored girl” when speaking to an Hispanic nurse’s aide who doesn’t seem to notice the phrase and who promptly asks my Mom if she’s met the Oriental PT yet? The one who is really nice?

    Gah!

  • Ami 1.07.2011, 1:51 am

    How about the “I just don't know how you do it!” said oh-so-condescendingly. I can handle it when they mean it, as in “It's hard to have a balancing act like that.” But I hate it when it's false modesty, like they're somehow they're saying they couldn't handle working outside of the home and managing a household to the standard they currently have. I'll tell you how I do it: One day at a time, one step at a time, just like everything else. And yeah, most days my house might not live up to everyone's sparkling standards. I'm okay with that.

  • Christine 1.07.2011, 2:18 am

    You all rock. I don't have kids yet, however, not long ago I was talking about how much I love my job and out of the blue a family member said “Well, that's great but if you have kids any time soon, you should really leave your job – you won't want other people raising your kids…blah blah blah.” I was totally shocked and then felt my soul wither to dust. Seriously, WTF? I'll cross that bridge when I get to it…but thanks for pre-planning my life (NOT)!

  • Modern Mom 1.07.2011, 2:48 am

    My favorite is when all of my stay-at-home-mom friends tell me how much harder it is staying at home than working. Yep – that's it! I work fulltime and had two kids less than 2 1/2 years apart bc I took the “easy” way out :)

  • the new girl 1.07.2011, 5:52 pm

    I agree so much with your post, Liz. I think that we've become so..sensitive to the criticism and judgment coming from other people.

    I also think that most often, people ARE kind of clueless or just insensitive about the things that they say to someone whose lifestyle is completely different from their own.

    When someone says to me, 'All that money for a degree and now you stay home, or you must miss working,' I am disinclined to rip them a new one–feeling more that they are imagining themselves in my position rather than knowing/anticipating/thinking about what MY actual day-to-day experience is and how it impacts me.

    Like other times in life when I am confronted by potentially offensive interactions, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt and deflect with humor, while still making my point.

    I mean, if I want people to be more sensitive toward me and my choices I can start that ball rolling by being, you know, a little sensitive toward others' potential clueless insensitivity.

    If the neighborhood mom had been more witty and less snippy, it might have made her point without making you feel bad for an innocent question. Great discussion here, though, as usual.

  • Mom101 1.07.2011, 5:55 pm

    @the new girl

    “being a little sensitive toward others' potential clueless insensitivity.”

    That right there's a keeper.

  • Aleksandra Nearing 1.07.2011, 6:31 pm

    I really like when I get “At least you get a break when you go to work.” It's more insulting for them than for me, actually :) Oops…I see someone already made that comment! Oh well, had to chime in.

  • Boriqua 1.07.2011, 8:47 pm

    “Isn't it hard being away from her all day?”

    No, Einstein, it's easy. People don't think anymore before speaking.

  • MsJoanie 1.07.2011, 10:34 pm

    I'm a SAHM and I just LOVE it when former colleagues ask me, “are you bored yet?” Oh, and I love the friend who said, “I could NEVER stay at home, I couldn't think of enough activities to keep my son engaged and learning.” As if I can? And what, my son ISN'T learning because he isn't in daycare?

    And I especially hate it when people congratulate me on being able to stay home. As in, “oooh, how fortunate/lucky you are to get to stay at home.” We DO make sacrifices for this to happen and in truth, I can't really afford to work given the cost of childcare in my area. Plus I'm having a hard time finding a job anyway.

    But in general I think people are just trying to find something nice to say, no matter your situation. So I just try to roll with whatever is said, and grit my teeth when someone asks, “how DO you fill your days?” Umm, hello, have you heard of laundry, house cleaning, cooking, walks to the library/park/beach, grocery shopping, dishes, yard work, etc… of course, these are all the things that sincerely make me ask “working” moms, “How do you manage?”

  • Mommy Theorist 1.08.2011, 3:27 am

    Professional Mom

  • Anonymous 1.08.2011, 11:48 pm

    I'm a SAHM mom and I find it obnoxious that someone would question my choice or make comments about staying at home versus working outside the home. It's none of their damn business. And though I have strong personal opinions about my choice I choose not to voice them to others or judge them for thier decisions. And I expect people to do the same in return. I find myself explaining that I have a professional degree before saying, “But I'm staying at home with my kids now' because otherwise people assume I have the intelligence of a doorknob and have absolutely nothing interesting to say. And, you know, often times I don't because I spend my days changing diapers, making meals, doing laundry and many, many other menial, boring chores that make me want to pull my hair out. But somehow I feel my contribution within the home is just as vital as a 'working mother's' contribution at the workplace. There are pros and cons to every situation.

  • Tricia 1.09.2011, 2:32 pm

    Here's the worst thing anyone ever said to me as a working mother: Nothing. Our kids go to a private religious school where a very very small percentage of families have two full-time working parents. (Based on the afterschool enrollment, about 25 percent). So, for two years, I have never been asked what I do. Not once. Now, my job is not my whole life, but it is a part of it. And it's spooky to have a whole part of it cut off from another important part of my life.

    Oh, here's the funniest thing anyone has ever said to me as a working mom, during a school parents' get-to-know-you event: “What does your husband do?”

  • The Ironic Mother 1.09.2011, 2:55 pm

    What great comments already! Unfortunately, many of them are oh too familiar…

    I think I'd remove the word “don't” from all questions to a working parent, as in “Don't you miss your child?” or “Don't you wish you could be home?”

    The phrasing of the question or comment carries so much more weight than the words themselves. I'm happy to talk about whether or not I miss my child and how I feel when I'm at work or at home, and in fact a real conversation about conflicted parental feelings can be so useful! But the implied answer from leading with “don't” (or “can't” or “shouldn't”) makes a productive conversation hard.

    Good luck with the article! I can't wait to read it.

  • Mama Bree 1.09.2011, 11:55 pm

    So many fantastic comments.

    I'm a “working mom” (I work outside of the home, if that's what we're now calling it) and I've heard the full gamut of how awful it is for my children to be in daycare and me not being at home with them, blah blah blah.

    But the kicker for me, was from a coworker, who once said that any woman who decided to work rather than stay home with their kids was a terrible mom.

    And what pissed me off further? She didn't have kids!

    Thankfully, for her, she didn't say it directly to me. ;-)

  • Anonymous 1.10.2011, 2:05 pm

    I've heard them all, but the one I hate the most is: Why have kids if you are not going to raise them?

    EXCUSE ME? Who do you think is raising my kids? Yes, they go to daycare (where they are well cared for and have a great time), but ultimately, I decide how they are raised and yes, I do spend enough time with them to have a huge influence and yes, I am the mom.

    I also hate when I am in mixed company and the SAHMs just go on and on about how they would NEVER, EVER imagine putting their kids in daycare or leaving them home with anyone besides themselves and they could NEVER live with themselves if they had to do something like that…um, ok, thanks.

  • Jennifer 1.11.2011, 10:55 am

    “How do like being a part-time mom?”

    I got that one early on. At the time I was starting my own business from home while my husband lived a couple hours away for work-related reasons and was doing a part-time MBA. He came home on Sundays. I was the primary caregiver to our one-year-old who went to daycare five hours a day, except when he was sick, when he was home in my office with me. My point being that I did not feel like a “part-time” mom at the time.

    Also, can I just say that the “work-outside-the-house” mom moniker gets to me? I honestly don't care if other women are employed or not, but working a job and being a mom are two very different things. Motherhood is not a job! It's a lifestyle!

    Technically, you could call me a work-in-the-house mom: I run my own business, earn as much as my work-outside-the-house husband, pay our rent + bills + most groceries, and my office is in our house.

  • Jennifer 1.11.2011, 11:01 am

    Reading the comments, I have to agree with some of the other parents who “pretend poverty” so they can work. I like working and I often say that “I have to work”. People can interpret that however they wish.

  • TJ 1.14.2011, 4:34 pm

    Here's a different twist: I'm a SAHM, but my older boy (3.5 years old) goes to preschool while my youngest (14months) is at home. Both my boys were/are very high maintainace, waking up 6+ times a night even at a year old, very adventurous and inquisitive (read: impish), and plus all of my oldest's friends started preschool, and he was getting lonely, so we enrolled him too, and he LOVES it. I still feel guilty about it, but, frankly, this arrangement makes us ALL happier.

    I recently saw an acquaintnce that has children similar in age with mine. It was during the weekday, so I was out and about with my younger son. WHen she saw me, she asked where my other son was, so I said he was at preschool, to which she said “You mean he's there ALL day?” and gave me a superior smirk as she called over her two children.

  • clueless but hopeful mama 1.15.2011, 8:06 pm

    Fascinating comments from your readers- full of horrifying comments to them! WOW.

    As for a moniker, how about “employed mom”? As a SAHM, I most definitely work but I'm also definitely not “employed”.

  • Anonymous 1.16.2011, 4:36 am

    I don't know what category I fall into. I don't work outside the home, but I'm trying to build a business and do manage to bring in a little bit each month. I also homeschool – another hot button topic. I generally like to talk about the weather with mothers I've just met – or potty training. Every Mom seems to have a potty training story.

    My favorite snarky comment when people ask, “How do you do it all?” is “I just don't clean the bathroom.” It's fun to watch their mouth drop open. :)

    Jendi

  • Anonymous 1.16.2011, 4:36 am

    As a working mom (out of the house), this is what i'v e heard: “I don't know how you do it. Really, because I could never leave my kids with a stranger”

    I've also heard from SAHM's that they would never let their kids have a playdate with a child with a working mom. They don't want their kids at home with the father (he's a teacher, but he's not a mom!) or a babysitter. This is hard to handle. I feel like my child will have a hard time making friends all because I have to work.

  • Autherine 1.17.2011, 3:53 pm

    I am a working mom raising three boys ages 6, 3 and 20 months so I have received comments ranging from funny to sympathetic to insulting. I usually just say “it takes a village to raise kids, and I have a wonderful, loving, supportive village assisting me.” This usually takes care of all the snarky comments about childcare.

  • RidgewoodMom 1.17.2011, 7:08 pm

    I was at my friend's baby shower, and an older woman there started talking to me, and I mentioned how my daughter doesn't want to play by herself. She was 14 months. The woman's reply, well that's what happens when she doesn't see her mom all the time (because I have a full time job). My kids couldn't wait to go to other people (she was a stay at home mom). Then she proceeded to tell me that raising kids in the city is possibly the worst thing ever. Having a large yard is the only thing that will make her a well adjusted person. I referenced the new studies that show that children raised in the city have a greater appreciation for the great outdoors. I guess I am “terrible” mom on two counts…

  • Anonymous 1.18.2011, 4:56 pm

    I have a SIL who works basically to pay for daycare and when people ask me why she does it I KNOW that she does it for 2 reasons, 1) because she loves her job and 2) because not everyone has the desire/patience to be with their children 24/7.
    Me, I stay home full time with my 3 kids because daycare/nanny would take more money than I have earning potential for. Fortunately, we can get by on my husbands salary. Unfortunately, we can't live as comfortably as we'd like to.

    The most insulting thing anyone has ever said to me was “Aren't you afraid your going to turn into a vegetable if you don't work?”

    Right, because not getting paycheck means I am watching cartoons all day and letting myself waste away. Don't assume that because I am home that I am not an intellectual person, or that I am unintelleginent.

    My response, “well I haven't forgotten how to read yet, so I figure I am doing ok”

  • kiwimama 1.19.2011, 6:13 am

    I'm a bit late to the conversation, but here's my favorite:

    On my first day back from maternity leave “What did you do with your child?” (and the slightly politer “who's looking after your child?”). From. Every. Single. Person. I talked too.

    At first I explained my child-care arrangments. Then I started saying 'Oh I just put her out in the back garden'.

  • Lauren 1.20.2011, 1:07 pm

    I was just thinking about this again this morning and I read most of these comments 2 weeks ago, but I haven't read them all so sorry if these are a repeat. I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 little girls. And I have more than once had a thought about moms who work outside the home that after they have so many children, 3 or 4, then surely childcare would now be unaffordable and they would stay home with their kids. I didn't really think this in a mean way, but I knew better than to actually say this to the mom. On the flip side, I think saying to a stay-at-home mom “well, now that your kids are all in school, surely you'll go to work” could be considered offensive, even if not said in a mean way.

  • Anonymous 1.21.2011, 4:10 am

    My son's speech was delayed. When my husband and I were first trying to understand the depth of the issue, my mother-in-law weighed in. “He doesn't call out for you because are not there.”

    It still stings, 4 years later.

  • Krista 2.04.2011, 6:17 am

    I just recently came across this post, and honestly have not read ALL of the comments, so I hope that I am not repeating something that someone else has already touched on.

    Today, I came across a comment on Facebook made by a woman about working moms. She claims that moms who work are not trusting in God to take care of them, and that most moms “have too many $$ in their head”. Seriously? This drives me bonkers!

    (I am a stay-at-home mom who would choose to work if I had the opportunity to).

    The Great Debate: SAHM vs. Working Moms

  • Anonymous 2.06.2011, 5:13 am

    I went back to work after my child was born because the health benefits from my employer were MUCH better and much more affordable than my husband's benefits. Granted, my paychecks do go straight to the daycare, but we can afford the copays on all those doctor appointments my poor child has because of the constant illnesses he has and the emotional problems he has developed from being ripped from my arms 5 days a week. (he's not constantly.sick and we all agree that he is well balanced-daycare told me so. And they should know, they have him 40 hous a week) When I looked for a daycare, I was impressed that this one knew to mix the fat back into the breastmilk before they fed him the bottle. Hey, I put a lot of time and effort into getting it, for what I pay, they can atleast feed him correctly.

    The thing I hated the most were the comments about pumping. Like, “Why bother? It's not the same coming out of a bottle?” Really? And the comments about being lucky to get long breaks. Yeah, they give me close to an Hour of paid time every day to not work and play with my boobs. Let's just say my time cards were a bitch to fill out for about a year. But it was nice to pick my son up from daycare and see other mothers getting their coolers out of the refrigerator and know they have messed up timecards too.

  • Anonymous 2.09.2011, 10:08 pm

    i have to say that as a working outside the home mom that i have heard just about all of these but my situation is a little different. my husband goes to school online and so he stays home with the kids while i work and if you use your imagination im sure you can think of the comments we have had to deal with for that. things from “is he lazy and not like working” to “why would you ever leave your children with him” like he's a complete stranger and imcomptent. lol just had to add that sometimes its hard for dads too:)

  • Susie 1.17.2012, 12:06 pm

    “I just wish we could all talk about how hard it is to be a parent, no matter your situation. It’s the hardest, most wonderful thing I will ever do, and anyone who questions my love for my girls because I’m only home nights and weekends (sounds like a cell phone plan) better not say it within earshot. ”

    Amen, Abby — brilliantly said. AMEN to that.

  • chickadee 1.22.2012, 12:32 pm

    My husband gently pointed out once, when our first child was an infant and I was missing predictable office work routines a bit, that at least I get to work for people I love. In the course of his job he gets to pat down uncooperative adult “clients” who may have soiled their pants, so I take it to heart!

  • Robyn 1.24.2012, 12:07 pm

    “I’d sell my body on the street corner before I’d take a job that would put my child in day care.”

    I was wise enough not to reply.

    • Mom101 1.24.2012, 1:58 pm

      I’m not totally following her logic. If you are a prostitute, you can bring your kid to work now?

  • cara 6.27.2012, 12:08 pm

    oh my word, I just laughed out loud reading this at work. so. good. I think it’s because these awkward moments are so (horrifically) relateable (however that is spelled) — so glad this was linked to today’s post :)!

  • Rhoda 2.07.2013, 10:47 pm

    I am a working outside of the house mom. What bothers me is that people assume that I am choosing to go to work. Let me tell you I don’t have a choice and if I did I would want to stay home with my kids. But hey we have to pay the bills and buy groceries. That is why I work, not because I want to, not because itis fulfilling or anything of that sort. I desire to be home with them, don’t assume I have a choice!

    End of rant.
    Thanks

  • Kim Constable 4.12.2013, 5:08 am

    Brilliant! We’re all so touchy these days about saying the right thing and I think it’s partly to do with the absence of clearly defined roles. In the 1950s it was so much of an issue I guess. Moms just stayed at home and dads went to work. I think we’re also much less in touch with ourselves and our humanity. We’re confused… we think our roles define who we are, hence the necessity for us to define ourselves by our “work”. Great post. Look forward to reading more. x

    • Mom101 4.13.2013, 8:52 am

      Well, some moms stayed home. My great-grandmother was a single mother who worked. I can’t even imagine what she had to face, if she did.

  • melissa 12.08.2013, 12:42 pm

    My god where do you commentors meet these polite gems?? I mean I stay home so you would figure that I would get slack from people who think that I should work outside of the home but I don’t even get that. Most people say oh that’s nice and move about the conversation.

  • Bethany 6.24.2014, 5:55 pm

    Aren’t you scared to leave your kid at daycare all the time, I saw where a daycare woman in knoxville was arrested for hitting a child and pushing him off a table.

Leave a Comment