|Society needs to place a value on stay at home parents.|
By Tonya Yancey
Recently, I was at my monthly Bunco meeting and a fellow female player mentioned she put in an application at the local school district. She was a stay at home mom of a senior in high school, an eighth grader and a preschool-aged child, but now was headed back into the working world of the 9- to 5-ers.
“Oh that is going be so difficult,” I said.
“Thank you,” the woman said. “You are the first person to say that to me.”
As stay at home moms, we know the challenges that every working mom faces, whether they are in the working environment or “just” a stay at home mom. We moms all understand that parenting is a verb; it is active 24/7. There are no breaks and there are no vacations, unless you pay someone else to monitor your children.
Where and when did we get so far off track, in that our value is based on whether or not we have earned income? Someone has to raise the children. If it isn’t you or your spouse, then you will have to seek out proper, paid child care. It seems to me that raising a child is the most valuable job position anyone in any society could have. Perhaps, I’m wrong. What I do know is that parenting has most definitely been my most challenging job. Not just the physical challenges, such as feeling as though I had chronic flu the first trimester of my first pregnancy or the sleep deprivation headaches I got for the first five years of their precious lives, plus the added pressure of the fact that I was raising little sponges who absorb everything I do and say.
All of my behaviors have a direct impact on how my children will perceive themselves and then be able to relate to others. Marianne Williamson says, “If hours of active mothering were calculated even at minimum wage, then mothering would be the largest industry in the world.” So what is this idea or perception that being a stay at home mom or dad has little value? The idea may be that the stay at home parent is just lounging about on the couch eating bonbons, when the reality is the stay at home parent just wants to be able to use the bathroom before their bladder burst and alone would be a treat if not a mini-vacation.
What all stay at home moms and dads want, the one thing they really, really, want is validation. They want to hear that the job that they do, the hours spent diapering, feeding, cleaning up something or someone, endless piles of laundry, driving someone to and from, getting up at 3 a.m. to clean up someone’s vomit, every hug, kiss, smile given and received, matters. It matters and is honored. And when the stay at home parent at a social gathering is asked the inevitable question, “What do you do?” and when one replies, “I’m at home with the kids,” honoring them with a response of gratitude and a simple “thank you” would be so healing and gratifying.
We stay at home parents are in service for our families and ultimately our communities and no amount of earned income can ever buy back these priceless years of childhood.
Find out the salary a stay at home mom would earn here.