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I'm Totally Judging the Stay-at-Home Mom With Full-Time Help

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Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Stay-at-Home Mom With Full-Time Help,

I feel a bit guilty writing this letter, but something big has been on my mind for years now and I just can't take it anymore. Every time I see you, I'm equally fascinated and confused. Most recently, I also felt semi-incensed when I asked you about enjoying the pool you have at your house during these hot days of summer and you responded sharply with, "I don't have time for that!" Pardon me, but it seems like you might (which is why I even brought it up in the first place), as you have full-time help and your kids are in school (well, camp these summer days). I admit, I'm now a bit put off.

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I'm judging here and I don't want to be. I've fought these feelings, telling myself we all walk in different shoes and that one mom's story is never similar to another's. I know what judging is; I've experienced it in the most irritating way and I've also (regrettably) dolled it out in a most inexcusable way. Every mom is her own woman and runs her own household, but I can't take the mystery anymore.

I simply must ask before I combust with curiosity: What do you do all day?

Do you find enough things to fill your time during the day or is it a challenge?

Allow me to chase that question with an apology, as "What do you do all day" is possibly the most offensive thing anyone can ask any mother, especially if the person asking is a mother. But here I am, inquiring about your specific situation in all sincerity because, a) your kids are now older (ie: school-aged) and there doesn't seem to be much need for an all-day nanny type of thing to account for the manual labor that babies, toddlers and small children require and b) I've been wondering about the mechanics of having full-time help with older kids around for years. Slap me right now, but I can't help but wonder the point of it all. (I'm trying not to judge here, but it seems to be happening beyond me telling it to stop ... )

So. Please. What do you do all day?

As I imagine your helper does most of the heavy lifting (on account of getting paid and all), do you then have freedom to go to the movies whenever you please? Do you treat yourself to spa and personal trainer appointments, as there's no need to rush home to take the chicken out of the freezer for dinner? Are you obligated to make your bed, or does your in-house helper take that one? Do you have to cook dinner? Do you have to shop for groceries? What kinds of fabulous things do you get to experience while the laundry is being washed, folded and ironed at home? Do you find enough things to fill your time during the day or is it a challenge? Is it awkward to be at home with full-time help when the kids are gone? Do the days go by fast or slow? Are you able to dash to the kitchen in your bra to refill your coffee, or do you have to ring a bell to let your helper know that you're half-naked so that she can go to another part of the house and avoid an inevitably embarrassing situation of seeing you half-naked in your bra? Do you miss being in the career scene? Do you think the rest of us are jackasses for trying to juggle and hustle or do you just feel sorry for us? Do you feel happy or lost?

I'm honestly asking here.

I've (luckily) had an inescapable love affair with my job and can't imagine my identity without it—I know that's the wrong thing to say, but it's the truth as I've come to admit it. I also know that, although I relish a great do-nothing vacation like any normal person does, I also start getting eager about being productive and contributing to something once the vacation's over, whether that something is working on career or tidying up my kitchen and checking off my laundry duties at home (I do enjoy and respect both paths, by the way, as I've lived both paths these past six years).

The thought of being a stay-at-home mom with full-time help scares the crap out of me for fear that my ability to contribute to some kind of goals during the day, whether they be work or household-related, be taken away. What would I do all day if I had someone here doing the dirty work eight hours a day, six days a week? I don't know.

I know what working moms do; we work at work and then coordinate and delegate and juggle and handle and shift and get creative for how to get it all done between ourselves and the nannies/sitters/household help we have access to (I'm living it). I know what stay-at-home moms do; we wash and wipe and load and errand and wonder and cry and laugh and cook and do it all again and again (I've lived it). But stay-at-home moms with full-time help? I'm curious if there are still things to do. There must be, because you snapped at me when I innocently pined about enjoying your pool.

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That's why I'm posing the most-hated question here —to make sense of it. What do you do when you're a stay-at-home mom with full-time domestic help?

Can you please just tell me so I can stop guessing and assuming and judging? (Because, if you're not using your pool ... then I'd like to.)

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