Monday, July 09, 2007

Is it luck?

I recently heard someone comment "Man, guys with children who's moms stay home with the child instead of working are so lucky!". This was said most innocuously. No malice intended really. But it still irks me to hear this or variations of this comment which are in fact quite patronizing or plain insulting. The latter sorts often in fact come from working women...I have heard this from someone " I don't know how you guys do it, I just can't imagine being cooped up at home with my kid all day". Or "You are so lucky - you get to spend so much time with your child".
So is it luck really? Hardly so. It is a choice we all make. Most of the people who make such comments are not in economically underprivileged situations that they have to work. They just chose to work and have their child be dropped off in day care. What is luck is if they have someone young and able that they absolutely trust that can give them the kind of care they would have given themselves had they stayed home with their child. Some people have the grandmother and father come and take care of the child for the first year while they go to work soon after the maternity leave ends. I am okay with their choice but I find it very annoying if they just make it seem like luck played some role in some of us spending more time with our children. When you spend time taking care of two kids and feel completely exhausted you hardly feel like it is "luck" favoring you. It is a difficult and tiring job to do that all day and it is a choice we make. Yes it is probably a lot more chaotic and challenging when both the mother and father are working especially if they have to leave their child in day care. I don't necessarily feel like I am luckier than them nor do I make such comments to them. Somehow I get this feeling that there are some working women who think it is a failure on our part to have put our career on hold and choose to stay home with the children for the first couple of years. Different strokes for different folks. You have to do what works for you and what you feel comfortable with. But to belittle the amount of work it takes to be a stay at home mom and subtly put it down with these kind of comments is plain rude. But how do you respond to such comments when it is made so subtly!
Well - I could go on and on about this - but I have to get going now - the night duty starts now! Two or three cycles of night time feedings and a little sleep every now and then to look forward to! In the meanwhile squeezed in time for a quick rant in my post!

18 comments:

Just like that said...

I agree its all about the choices one makes/is forced to make.

And its not just the mothers who pass such statements, totally unconnected persons also comment.

I so wanted to be there for my baby at all times, till he was 5, and able to communicate, but... for several reasons, I had to get back to work much earlier, when Sonny boy was just 2.3 years.
Both options have their own pluses and minuses, and we have to live with our choices...

WhatsInAName said...

Correct!
I dont think there is anything like the "wrong" decision here or a "luckier" woman!
All these statements are the result of seeing the greener grass on the other side!

rbdans said...

I have had similar comments from my colleagues when I had decided to quit. Some thought I was plain stupid. I think people who make such comments do it due their insecurity of wanting to work at the same time wanting to be with their kids.

It requires a lot of guts to quit a high paying job, stay at home and take care of kids. I worked for few months when D was born, then stayed home for a while, then worked from home. Done it all! My personal experience, it is lot easier to go out of the house to work, as you get your space and get to take your mind off kids/home. To me, staying home, taking care of kids and retaining sanity at the end of the day is both tough and rewarding. I fail to understand where "luck" comes into picture.

All said, its a personal decision. It works for some and does not work for some depending on your personality. Some might find happiness in doing so, other might get stressed out.

sorry for the mini post..

Poppins said...

Uh oh, looks like someone rubbed you off the wrong way. I have both stayed home and am now working. I know it is hard both ways and neither "camp" should think itself superior.

There's a certain arrogance that women who work outside the home have and that is true even of SAHM's. I too have many stories of being left out of conversations and getting subtle comments doubting my abilities as a mom, once I started working..

It's just the inability of humans to stop being judgmental !

noon said...

Hi JLT - I agree - we make certain decisions before we have kids and somehow things turn out differently later - we have to accept it and also understand that others too may be going through similar difficutl decisions...

Hi What'sinaname - yeah - grass is always greener on the other side!

Rbdans - I think it is very hard to quit a high paying job or the potential of getting one and decide to stay home to take care of children. It is a different kind of juggling act when you are a working mom but the monotony of domestic tasks (ofcourse aside from the fun of being able to watch every little new thing the baby does) all day long can really make you go crazy.

Hi Poppins - not really one person rubbing me the wrong way - just that I have heard these sort of comments and felt like posting abotu it after the recent one about being lucky. My point was not about working or not working but that it is not about luck but about the choices we make. I guess I never feel superior one bit about being a stay at home mom - I do admire working moms who are able to juggle it all - but I find it absolutely irritating when in tone and words there are many working moms who put on a superior attitude and in some cases their husbands too. I feel like putting them in place by making similar harsh remarks in the same subtle manner but feels horrible to really do so - I will be the one feeling bad later.

Kodi's Mom said...

frm the other side of the fence - ppl who pass comments similar to 'what, you send him to daycare! how could you - he is too young!!' get on my nerves...(no i dont send mine to daycare yet, but i've heard this directed to other moms)

the best way to diffuse these situations (and also to irritate the offender some more) is to respond with silly humor or treat it as a compliment.

eg: for"You are so lucky - you get to spend so much time with your child" - "Yes, I am lucky. I did many pujas and prarthanas that I should stay at home with my children - now my prayers have been granted." :)

Gauri said...

Oh !! The best part is that I've been at the receiving end of so many comments from many women out here because I choose - I repeat - I choose to spend maximum time with my children.

No - I don't drop them off with a sitter or with a part time maid and go off to attend a satsang or a kitty party. That just does not work for me.

And I've been at the receiving end a lot many times.

In fact, had even done a post on this a while ago titled "Is child rearing boring ?"

Like Poppins says, we humans can never stop judging each other, can we ?

Especially if the situation gives one an opportunity to take a right royal dig at another. Whether the same is warranted or not is another issue altogether.

noon said...

Hi Kodi, Yes humor definitely helps. Almost the only thing that helps in these situations. Or it can get on your nerves. The lucky comment was made in a harmless way but w/out thinking - I really wanted to explain that it wasn't luck but a conscious and difficult choice that we make...

noon said...

Hi Gauri,
Yeah people always judge each other...I just feel - keep your judgements to yourself or at least find out the facts of each case before passing stupid remarks.

Moppet's Mom said...

Oh noon - you've just been inside my head, haven't you?

I just hate it when people tell me - oh yours is the hardest job in the world, or aren't you a lucky girl! And this is usually another woman - it takes all my self-control to not respond with a bitchy comment myself.

How're you doing with your little cuties? Hope all is going well.

noon said...

yeah - we all get different versions of it - be it working mom or SAHM.
I read your and Poppins post this aftn - started posting a comment but had to just run - it's maddening sometimes between the two kids. Now the little one is wiiide awake - 10.30 at night and she is wide awake for the last one hour. One hr! Thought a newborn will sleep most of the time!
Anyway - this is how it's going now!

the mad momma said...

:D ah. .i see you are having the same problem as me. i want to slap ppl who say it in that patronising tone... what has luck got to do with it?

if another mother wants to stay home with her kids, who is stopping her?

and if they want to work so that they can buy houses and cars galore, well then there is no luck involved - its a choice. i chose to give up the houses and cars to be home.. so dont patronise me or act like someone forced you to go back to work.

and if you were already financially committed to a house or car loan, then maybe you should have thought the baby through. either way - there is no luck involved.

sorry to rant in your space but i am tired of such statements

noon said...

Yeah - really - I have come to really pick on the word luck in this context now - esp when they say my husband is lucky because I stay home! Well we have made compromises in other ways and so can you if you want to get "lucky"! I rant in this space but don't dare to tell it to them that way...feel tired of dignifying such remarks with a follow up argument - when at the end of it - they will still think the same way!

Something to Say said...

I used to get my pants in a twist about this earlier - now I just dont care - i know it was a choice I made and I am happy with it. Sometimes - if I'm in the mood for wicked fun - I ask the person 'arent u happy witht he choice u made?' - or did u not get a choice in this matter - it just shuts people up!

Tharini said...

I probably am the odd one out to say this...bit I have NEVER, till this day, come across anybody who made irksome comments to me about the stay at home choice. Maybe that's why I don't feel so involved with the whole issue. I don't know...

noon said...

HI Sts - yeah - that's a good come back - why you didn't have a choice?! :)

Tharini - you are lucky really that you have never come across such remarks. Hope you don't in the future as well...I have personally dealt with this or I have often heard (as you can also see from the comments) people complain of such remarks...

artnavy said...

i get it in the reverse- people i hardly know ask me- " oh u leave anush behind and go to work... !!"

i feel like biting their heads off

but then again to each their own and let people and their comments go to hell

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