Last week, I had a few people comment on my Facebook about how "lucky" and "blessed" I am to be able to stay home with my kids.
I'm no stranger to comments like those, but for some reason, as I stared at the words this time, I realized that they stirred up some strange feelings for me. "If you're lucky enough to be able to stay home with your son, you should appreciate it," one of the commenters scolded me via words on a screen.
And while I understand that sentiment and I do feel lucky to stay home with my kids, I also have to say comments like those miss out on the big picture—which is that staying home with my kids is not a stroke of luck on my part, nor a blessing sent straight from the heavens.
Never mind the fact that staying home with small children is freaking hard work, and work that—if I'm being 100% honest—does not come naturally to me. The truth is, I have worked my buns off to be able to find a solution that works for our family that lets me be home with them most of the time.
When we talk about mothers or fathers who stay home with their children as people who are "lucky" or "privileged," we are often glossing over a few important facts: 1. Many parents who stay home don't have a choice in that decision. Daycare is so freaking expensive that a mom like me, who has four little kids, honestly can not afford it. 2. Many parents who stay home are often doing other work either working from home or out of the home at odd hours to contribute to their family income.
So sorry, but luck has nothing to do with it.
I work tirelessly to be able to be home with my kids and still make a full-time income working from home.
This isn't true of every stay-at-home parent of course, and I'm sure there are some truly pampered parents out there who stay home simply because their partners make enough money that it's not a big deal, but come on, let's be real—that's simply not the reality for most of us at-home parents.
I work tirelessly to be able to be home with my kids and still make a full-time income working from home. I work nights and very early mornings, pretty much every weekend, and on every vacation. I worked while I was in labor with my fourth baby and never had a true maternity leave. I don't watch TV and my life is pretty dull: work, laundry, grocery shop, kids, rinse and repeat. There's not a lot of downtime or adventures and, if I'm being frank, not a whole lot of overwhelmingly fun moments either. I do these things because staying home with my kids is a priority, not because I'm just "lucky" enough to cruise through life as a stay-at-home mom.
Don't get me wrong, I feel incredibly grateful for my life. I'm grateful that my family is healthy. I'm grateful that I don't have to leave my kids in a potentially unsafe childcare environment because I'm forced to work a traditional job. And I'm grateful that my husband's job provides us with health insurance so that I can pursue a freelance career. I recognize the layers of privilege that have allowed our lives to unfold and to make working from home a reality for our family.
But it's also time we acknowledge that the reality of parents who stay home is often filled with hard choices, trade-offs, deliberate planning, strict budgets, and thinking outside-of-the box about what their lives can look like. Staying home as a modern-day parent probably looks a lot different than your "Leave It To Beaver" ideals and being open about it can help upcoming parents better face their own futures.
So, please, don't tell us how lucky we are when luck is only one part of the equation.