Family life

So, what do stay-at-home moms do all day?

Jennifer Pinarski believes that putting stay-at-home moms on a pedestal drives a wedge between working parents and those who have chosen to stay home.

1SAHM-October2013-iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

Earlier this week, Lexington, Kentucky radio personality Matt Walsh wrote what I’m sure he thought was going to be an very innocuous piece defending his wife, a stay-at-home mom. The blog post arose after his conversation with two career women who asked him about how his wife and children were doing and whether his wife was going back to work and — the horror! — what she does all day as a stay-at-home mom.

Walsh informed the two women that his wife was keeping busy raising their twin babies, and no, she wasn’t returning to work. And that yes, being a stay-at-home mom isn’t always fun, but it is rewarding. And that his wife never quits working. He admits these conversations never end well.

In his post, Walsh writes:

“This conversation shouldn’t be necessary. I shouldn’t need to explain why it’s insane for anyone — particularly other women — to have such contempt and hostility for “stay-at-home” mothers. Are we really so shallow? Are we really so confused?”

Almost 4,000 people have voiced their opinion on Walsh’s blog, a majority of which echoed his opinion.

It seems as though any time a stay-at-home mom is asked what she does all day, it’s open season for the poor person who asked the question. I remember earlier this year I wanted to tackle this topic in a lighthearted way. When I turned social media looking for stay-at-home moms to tell me what they did, I was told they did everything — and I was scolded for daring to ask such a question and accused of fuelling the “mommy war” fire. All I wanted to do was to find out how other moms spent their time and dispel the bon bon myth. I was so scared of opening the “what do you do all day” can of worms, I deleted that blog post. Most of all, I wanted to get to the bottom of why SAHMs are so defensive about leaning out.

For example, I’ve asked dentists, real estate agents, farmers, art teachers and butchers about how they spend their days and they were always happy to answer. They were proud of what they do, but never condescending. In many way, their chores were similar to mine, and included mundane tasks such as making calls, doing paperwork, running errands, cleaning and talking to people who ask too many questions.

Read more: The REAL lives of stay-at-home parents >

Yes, stay-at-home moms have an incredibly difficult, unpaid job that to some people looks like a riotous vacation full of pillow forts and cupcakes. And on some days it is. But on some days it also really sucks, but the guilt of “quitting” being a stay-at-home mom to get back into the workforce is crushing because, well, who wants to admit they want to give up on their kids — which is how returning to the workforce is unfairly painted.

Read more: Stay-at-home moms who regret their decision >

But to say that stay-at-home moms have the most important job in the world and that all of civilization will collapse if moms return to the workforce is an exaggeration. This isn’t to say that it’s an unimportant role, but the point I want to make is that stay-at-home moms are a part of raising children. To say that SAHMs do everything and have made the ultimate sacrifice isn’t true — although at times it may feel like it. We take care of many of those day-to-day tasks, but raising thoughtful, moral humans lies with families and communities. For example, I stayed home for one year with my son, then he was with three different daycares over the three years I was a working mom, and finally he started kindergarten. He’s just as kind and curious as my daughter, with whom I stayed home full time. Do I sometimes feel like I cheated my son by going back to work? Absolutely! But I sometimes wonder if I also cheated my daughter out of the experiences she’d have had in daycare, because I stayed home with her. What makes them super kids is that I surround them with awesome, loving people.

Putting stay-at-home moms on a pedestal, like Walsh suggests we should, drives a wedge between working parents and those who have chosen to stay home. It undermines the fact that we’re all in this parenting gig together and we need to support each other. I still don’t know why we all just can’t calm the ‘eff down (CTFD) when asked about what we do all day. My suggestion is that, next time you’re asked, take a deep breath, and say that you help make great people, that you love what you do, and leave it at that.