On the blogosphere, it's often discussed how insulting it is to assume that stay-at-home moms do nothing all day long. It's discussed how you should never say, "What DO you do all day?" or assume that moms just lounge around on the couch and eat bon bons all day. We all know nothing is further from the truth, and I agree that it is infuriating that some people have such an attitude toward mothering.
But let's talk about working moms and the comments we endure, too. At the end of my maternity leave with Luke, I remember wanting to hurt people for the things they say. And now I'm here again, as my maternity leave is drawing to a close. I'll freely admit that I'm sensitive, but I also know that sometimes people say things without thinking, without realizing.
So, don't tell me that you're jealous that I'll get to leave the house, that there are days when you wish you could get out. I'm sure there are. I *know* there are, but when you're lucky enough to have the CHOICE to stay home, please don't say that to someone who doesn't have the choice. Because...you're not jealous. You're not jealous that I'll have to leave my six month old to expend all of my energy on other people's children. You're not jealous that I'll spend every break I have pumping, wishing that I could just have my baby in my arms. And please do not tell me that you stay home because you don't want someone else to raise your children. It'll make me feel like a second-rate mom, and I promise you, I'm still the one raising my children.
Instead tell me that you can't imagine how hard it will be for me, that although there are days when you wish you could have a break, you know how lucky you are. Because you are. So very lucky. That said, don't think you can't vent to me when the days are tough because I'll listen and understand. Just don't say the J word.
Don't tell me that if I just make a few sacrifices, I can stay home with my children. Don't you think we've crunched numbers and poured over our bank accounts with a fine-toothed comb? We have. I've spent most of my maternity leave applying for part-time jobs and jobs at daycares where I could take my children, but nothing has panned out. Nothing.
Instead tell me you'll keep your eyes open for something that might work for me. Tell me you'll let people know that if they need a reading or writing tutor for their children, I'm available.
Or maybe, just give me a hug, because I could use that, too.
Don't point out to me how I only have two months of leave left. Don't you think I have it all blocked out in my mind, down to the last minute practically? Don't add in that you bet it went fast or that you bet I don't want to go back, because how do I respond to that? Thinking about it makes me cry, so how do you THINK I feel about it?
Instead give me something to look forward to... tell me about something you'd like to do with me before I go back to work. Or better yet, something you'd like to do after I go back to work. Acknowledge that it'll be hard, but that you know I can do it. And then? Let me know that you'll be there for me, please, because if ever I'm going to need a shoulder to cry on, it'll be in January.
What do you wish people would never say to you? Doesn't have to deal with working or not working, just something that makes you twitchy.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to enjoy my last two months of sitting on the couch and eating bon bons.