“Our daycare gal is sick and I can’t take the day off work. Can I just drop the kids at your house tomorrow?”
Check the back of your neck. Did the hair just go up? Are you clenching your teeth? Is the voice in your head whooped up because why does everyone think you’re never busy and always available to help?
I’m talking to you, stay at home moms. Homeschooling Moms. Work at home moms. I’m talking to all those ladies who don’t leave their house to punch a clock, overseen by a boss who can fire them if they don’t show up for their scheduled hours, and often hear things like…
“I don’t have time to get supplies for the church project. I work. You’re home tomorrow, right? Can you just grab them?”
Now, hold on. I know that right now some of you are half-cocked, ready to go off at someone for so blatantly supposing that as an at home mom, you’re lazy and do nothing all day.
I mean, the nerve.
But…down, girl. Let’s reel it back a bit. Let’s look at this with some logic.
I want you to consider something. We actually don’t need to freak out about this.
BECAUSE, HONESTLY. MAYBE THEY’RE NOT SAYING YOU’RE LAZY.
MAYBE THEY’RE NOT ASSUMING YOU’RE AT HOME, DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
Think about it. Your father-in-law needs a ride to a doctor’s appointment he can’t drive home from. Your sister-in-law’s kids have the day off of school and need somewhere to go. That gal from church is a few people short to serve food at the funeral.
And they’re asking you to help.
Yes, they can fall all over themselves with “I know you work hard and I know you’re busy at home doing all the amazing things you’re doing and I feel bad asking but I’m in a bind and I was hoping you could help me out because…”
They can say all that. Sure. But I don’t want to be the person who requires all that.
If you get a phone call, “can you take me to my doctor’s appointment? I have to go in for a test and it takes about three hours,” are you already in freak out mode because you’ve assumed a trillion and two things about why you’re the one they’re asking?
WHY DO WE GET OFFENDED?
I believe there are two reasons we get all worked up. The first is because we’re not 150% confident in the momming choice we made. There is always that little voice in the back of our head (regardless of whether we work outside the home or not) that says you should have made the other choice.
And when someone gives that little voice a megaphone, Lord help us all.
It’s also because we all do a lot of assuming of what the other person is thinking while they’re asking. Consider for a moment: the person might just be asking because they really need help and know you might be able to help them.
And it doesn’t go any further than that.
Look. Labels and titles and figuring out what to call people is a really sticky situation. It’s a lot harder to label groups of people than it is to label color crayons. Is working mom the best way to describe a mom who works outside the home? Is full-time mom the best way to describe a mom who doesn’t? Meh.
Are there people who will get offended at both of those terms? Yeah.
But do we have to get offended?
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS…
Moms at home, generally speaking, do have more flexibility than someone who works outside the home. This is in no way a comment on the amount of work you’re doing. It simply means your routines and activities might be more flexible.
When someone asks you to help out, they are not asking because they think you’re not doing anything. They’re asking because they know there is a .5% chance you can tweak your schedule to help them out and they know their other friend who works as an RN at the VA totally can’t.
And sure, there are trolls and jerks and people we have history with who have said things. But there are also mamas who are trying so hard to feel confident about their parenting choices that they’ll go a wee bit overboard in sensitivity and defensiveness.
Come, now. Is there anyone out there who actually believes that a stay at home mom sits and watches TV all day? Because I haven’t met anyone in real life who truly believes that.
But if there is someone out there who believes that…I’m still not going to get mad. I’m not going to waste time worrying about it or texting all my friends with a ohnoshedidntaskme…
If someone were to assume I was eating bon-bons on the couch all day, I could get all gangsta and say “you don’t know my life”. But what I’d probably do instead would be stare at them—hard, without saying a word—until they got really uncomfortable and looked away. Then I’d explain I had actual stuff to get back to.
I mean, come on. Who cares that they think you’re not doing enough?
We get into our routines. And we are busy. Show me a mama at home who isn’t busy? But let’s be honest — you have a flexibility that other people don’t have.
The crazy thing is there are some homeschooling moms will shout from the rooftops that they chose to homeschool because of the flexibility it allows them in their schedule, but will turn around and freak out at someone who asks them to change their schedule around because, “do they think I can just drop what I’m doing to help them?”
Listen. Sometimes the thing my kids and I were going to run and do at 2 we can run and do at 5 instead. Sometimes I can change my appointment. Or reschedule my meeting. Or bring an extra kid to the thing we’re doing.
And sometimes I can’t. And if I can’t, I can’t. It’s completely and totally okay to say no.
IF YOU’RE FEELING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF…
There is a line where people can start to take advantage of us and our flexibility and assume we can hop up and help them whenever they need us.
There are people who don’t understand we’ve got a routine and dropping three extra kids off for four hours because “can’t they just hang out while you do school?” really doesn’t fly. I mean, who (mom included) is going to concentrate on multiplication when there’s an adorable baby or a cousin friend or a neighbor hanging out with us?
Mama, it’s up to you. You put down the boundaries. If someone drops kids off because there is an emergency and you happen to be home, it is one thing. But dropping kids off three times a week for a month means you might need to work out a daycare agreement that includes monetary compensation—that is, if carting more kids around works into the activities you’ve already got planned.
Lay down some ground rules. When you’re able to help, help. When you can’t, don’t. When you can change your schedule, be flexible. And when you’ve already got plans that can’t be changed, it’s okay. And if you’re feeling taken advantage of, step back and take a look at the situation. Ask your hubby or another friend how they see the situation. Make a plan of attack from there.
Mamas, the one thing we can’t do is assume that everyone who asks for our help is making an off-handed comment about us being lazy at home.
Kick doubt to the curb. Be confident in the choice you’ve made. Help when you can. Continue being awesome.
That is all.