1. “I love how you’re always working out.”
I know that French mothers sashay around in chic blazers and skirts and such, and that dressing like a human being makes you feel more like one, but here’s the thing: Yoga pants and sneakers, while not exactly flattering, really do the trick when you need to slide under the couch to scrape peanut butter off the springs. So no, no, I’m not working out soon, or even anytime today, or maybe ever. And yes, I’m wearing stretchy pants and a hoodie. Do stay-at-home dads get flak for dressing like college students during finals week? No, no they do not. They get looks of adoration for being at home at all.
2. “So, honey... dinner, dancing or tequila shots?”
Like so many off-putting comments, people we love say this with love. Of course it is. But after 12-plus hours of feeding, chasing, playing, teaching, disciplining, cleaning up, comforting, protecting, peeling off the ceiling and feeding again, in a repeating loop every 15 minutes or so, once spouses get home, you know what we want to do? Not have a nice dinner together (also known as: even more feeding and cleaning), not anything. Nothing. All the way to 8:30 p.m., when we pass out against our wills.
3. “Too bad about all the dough your parents spent on underwater-welding school.”
My friend has been a devoted, happy stay-at-home mother for about a decade now. Her elderly mother (who was previously also a stay-at-home parent) still struggles to understand what went wrong. “She had a good career,” the mother is known to say, shaking her head. “I know she didn’t get fired. I just don’t know what happened.” Choosing to stay home with your kids is often thought of as an elaborate ruse designed to mask a larger, sexier failure. As in: “You must have lost that awesome underwater-welding job you had in your 20s; why else would you be in your current predicament? Why would you do something as unambitious, unexciting and unpaid as guide small people through their early childhoods if you had the option of doing something, you know, real? All of which reveals the assumption that the hands-on rearing of the young is a kind of a vacation from work. To which all stay-at-home parents in the world respond in unison: “Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Next: "You look like you could use some you-time"