Last week I wrote about how people can support working moms. As I wrote, I knew that it was only one side of the mom coin. I was lucky to be a stay at home mom for a little while before I started working part-time, and I plan on being a stay at home mom again while my children are small if possible. It’s hard work, so let’s take a look at ways we can support them too! If you read the other post, some of these may sound familiar.
Don’t worry about why they’re not working
As much as I don’t believe in questioning a working mom’s motive to work, I equally don’t believe it’s anyone’s business why a woman chooses not to work. Her own mom miss a lot of her childhood due to work and she wanted something different? Sweet. Her spouse makes enough that she doesn’t have to and doesn’t want to? Good for her. She did the math and if she works, then she’s just paying for daycare and chose to stay home? I get that. Maybe their family would be a lot better off financially if she worked, but they decided it wasn’t right for them? Their decision. I think one of the important things about supporting women is recognizing that they don’t owe explanations for their decisions, and just because it is different from yours doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
It may be easy to think that SAHM’s have tons of friends, go to play dates and coffee every day, and go to every social event. Truth: being a SAHM can be pretty lonely. Shy or not, being a new mom makes it really easy to want to stay at home in pajamas and never leave. Real easy. Also true of the toddler stage. When we first moved to our new state, it got cold quickly and I had no friends. I’m pretty sure I’d go a full week without leaving my apartment. Make sure you’re reaching out to the SAHM’s you know to include them in some of your activities. Being home day after day with a mini human who has no emotional regulation yet is exhausting. Help them remember what it’s like to do things besides wrestle their demon into eating lunch or putting a diaper back on.
Remind them that they’re people
How many of us feel like we’re part zombie, robot, kleenex, and human bottle all smooshed into a pair of sweats and a ponytail? How many of us have forgotten we have a legit first name and that it’s not “Mom. Mom. Mom!” Being a mother is wonderfully fulfilling, but it’s not the only aspect of my identity. Talk to them about them, not just their kids. What did they study in school and why? What are they reading lately? Any talents or hobbies? Where are they from? You don’t have to make it an awkward date thing, but remember to talk to them about their non-zombie selves. I think I was so overwhelmed with all of the changes I had just gone through in a short amount of time that I didn’t know what else to talk about other than the baby. Once I remembered me again, it brought a lot more balance into my life.
Forget about the Facebook facade/Pinterest moms/families of Instagram
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be good parents, loving wives, knowledgeable about current events, and as hot as we were in college. While none of those things are bad, the pressure can get overwhelming and depressing. I’ve found that when I’m home more, it’s easy to spend a few minutes here and there looking at social media and seeing what other people are up to. Again, not bad. But when those few minutes add up over a day, or week, or month, it seems like everyone we know is on fun family trips, hand-making paper-mache pinatas that look just like the birthday boy, and always has new clothes. Meanwhile, you’re eating another sleeve of Oreos in the bathroom while your kids raise hell in the living room. We’ve all been there, but we can help each other out with this. Let’s talk less about if they’ve seen the newest trend online, evaluate how much we humble brag about things we do for our kids, and stop apologizing for our “messy” house when people come by. That last one really gets me. It’s okay to not be a living, breathing Instagram picture. When it’s okay for us, it shows that it’s okay for them, too.
Support good policies
This one is on the list for supporting working moms, too. Why? Because smart policy benefits everyone. Moms, wives, husbands, grandparents, children, all the single ladies–everyone. How much better would a SAHM’s life be if her husband had a better family leave policy at work and could stay home with the kids when she is sick? Family leave isn’t the only policy worth being informed of or that would benefit SAHM’s. A lot of moms want to home school, and it can be more difficult to do in some states. Whatever your political affiliation, there is good and bad policy that affects SAHM’s, and they deserve your attention too.
As I was looking for some images to put on this post, I googled “Stay at home mom meme” and was disappointed to see a lot of mean memes show up. Whether you work or stay at home, there should be no room for judgement and lots of room for encouragement. If you really struggle to support the other side, ask yourself why. We all love our families and value the people close to us. The differences in how we do things shouldn’t give us reason to tear each other down, either vocally or in our actions. Motherhood was a big change for me–harder than I expected. The supportive women in my life have been such a force for good, and I hope that all of us try to be that for others.