I never thought I would ever feel like my life was a four-letter word, until it happened.
A few years ago I was very busy. I worked an upwards of 70-80 hours a week, I played roller derby, I was a wife, and eventually a mother. There wasn’t really an hour in the day that wasn’t filled with some “productive” activity. In 2015 all of that changed (which is a story to save for another day) I went from very busy and what I thought at the time, in an important role, to seemingly nothing, again at least I thought. I had gone from being a professional in the workforce to a stay at home mom (SAHM).
Being a SAHM is not easy! I will never understand why it is okay to hire or be a housekeeper, childcare provider, a personal assistant, a personal chef, a dry cleaner, etc., but when a woman or man decides to do this all at once, in their own home, with their own families, somehow it is sad or taboo. However, in this day and age somehow, it is made to seem uninspired or the easy way out.
This feeling of being a four-letter word was not a preconceived notion, it was learned. I remember the first time someone asked, “What do you do?” and of course my response was, “I am a stay at home mom.” To that they replied, “oh”, and gave me a look of pity. (You may know the one I am talking about) It hurt a little. And then, time and time again, the same question would come up, with some resemblance of the same answer and/or look. Or when I was trying to deal with someone on a professional level, and they found out I was a SAHM, they would begin to talk down tom me or dumb things down for me. I think a current term is “mansplaining” but it wasn’t just men, women did it too, and more often they were the worst offenders. Now, not only was there pity, but I also felt like people didn’t think I was smart enough to do anything else.
Eventually, anytime I was going to go out to interact with strangers, I mentally prepared myself to feel ashamed. I felt like I would need to explain my choices, and wanted so badly to explain to people, that I’d done so much more, and this was just a temporary change (but it wasn’t). When you spend so much time feeling like you are not worthy, you begin to act that way too. I found myself not wanting to do things for myself because I felt I didn’t deserve it. It is amazing how much power one term, SAHM, had over me. I had become my own four-letter word.
Being a SAHM is NOT easy. You are always on. There’s no drive home to wind down or doors to lock up when you leave the office. I would also like to say that is a story with a completely happy ending, but in the spirit of full disclosure, it’s not. This is a story still being written. There is progress though. I no longer feel like I went from an important role to nothing. I am important. I especially see it now. I am trying to raise respectful and productive members of society. Where it may not be for everyone, it is a job that I can take pride in. As for others and the judgement they have about what I do, I may just have some four-letter words for them.