7 Things Never to Say to a Stay-At-Home Mother
Unless...you’re offering 2 to 12 hours of free babysitting on the spot.
5. “I’m just checking in because you didn’t respond to my email from three minutes ago.”
Hey, you know what kids love? Pressing buttons. Looking at glowy screens. Fondling the devices that also contain their beloved Elmo-ABC apps and YouTube videos of horse dressage. (All kids are into that, right?) Most people know it’s hard for moms to get to the computer. But smartphones aren’t any easier. We’d love to get to that email or voicemail or text. But we can’t. And it’s also probably impossible to meet for lunch or shop for underwear. Or go to a thing. Any thing. Instead, we’re racing from playdate to errand to music class to other errand. And no, the post office is not on the way. Ever.
6. “That's so nice for you, that you can afford to be home.”
As my great-uncle Jerry was wont to say, “You don’t know what’s inside someone else’s pocketbook.” (Unless of course you’re a 2-year-old obsessed with emptying out people’s purses when they’re not looking.) You don’t know why or how other people deal with a one-income life. Sometimes it means the working spouse is making bank. But sometimes it means the family has decided that this parenting situation is the priority and that the budget will be adjusted (read: squeezed) accordingly. Sometimes it means no date nights, no cable, no premium caffeinated beverages, no vacations. But a lot of giggly, flashlighty blanket-cave-spelunking staycations.
7. “Enjoy every minute!”
Really? Every minute? Like the minute when the children’s coordinated tantrums are so noisy they set the neighborhood dogs howling? Like the minute when everyone poops at once, and none of them where they should? Like the minute when you’re so tired at the end of the day that you sit down to the computer to draft the long-overdue holiday card and wake up with a dented forehead and three pages full of commas? The sentiment, of course, is not a bad one. I know I try, when I get this loathsome advice, to understand that enjoying every other minute will do. To remember to slow down. To ignore the dishes when my child really wants to show me her Lego tower. To take a moment to appreciate the shrieking laughter of the verboten jumping-on-the-bed right before I go in to break it up. It helps me to try, when I can, to set aside my natural human desires for languid sleep-ins and dinners that don’t involve ketchup, and remember that really children are children for such a short time. You don’t have to enjoy every moment. That’s crazy talk. But the good moments, well, it’s your job to love them like the gifts from the universe that they are.
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