On Wealth and Privilege (and being a stay at home mom)

I feel the need to address an issue tonight.  I don’t have time for this, I have things I need to get done, I have doll orders I need to get working on.  But these thoughts keep banging around in my head and I need to get them out on (virtual) paper.

There is this word.  I keep seeing it in comments on homeschooling, breastfeeding, clothdiapering, etc.  It is “privilege”- as in “my husband and I need to work to stay afloat; we’re not privileged enough to be able to spend all day with our children”…  This is from a comment on the huz’s homeschooling post.

People constantly tell me how privileged I am to be a stay at home mom. How nice it is that my husband makes enough to support us.  How we are part of that wealthy, privileged, upper class.  And how they can’t do that, so how dare I make them feel bad because they can’t do A, B, or C.

Here is the thing.

WE ARE POOR.

We’ve been poor for our entire marriage.  Yes, I stay home with our children and my husband works.  And yes, we are just starting to pull ourselves out of the deep financial hole we have been buried in ever since we said our “I dos”.  He works HARD so that this can happen.  But we have struggled.  SO MUCH.  We juggle which bills to pay each and every month.  We have survived on everything from a waiter’s tips to his current job as a truck driver. I have learned to make our budget stretch farther than should be possible.  I can feed my family of six on forty dollars a week if I have to.  We haven’t been to the movies in four years.  In fact, neither Patrick nor Willow has ever been in a movie theater.

Two days ago I cried because I got a new bathing suit.  My last one was purchased five years ago and it was worn to shreds and unwearable.  My husband and I go without many things so that our kids can have food, clothing, shelter, homeschool materials, and fieldtrips.  We drive a car built in 1996.  We’ve never had a honeymoon or even been on a vacation.  We haven’t been on a “date” in years.

We live this way because we think it is extremely important that our children have a parent stay at home.  It might be “old fashioned” but we think there SHOULD be a parent at home to bake cookies and wipe noses.  We want OUR babies to have their momma, and know they need to be carried, snuggled and breastfed all day long.  I pumped and supplemented and did daycare with Hannah, when I was finishing school- I know how difficult that is and I wanted different for any future babies, so I made this choice with my husband’s support before we were married.

(I’m talking about OUR LIFE and OUR CHILDREN and OUR CHOICES here.  THIS IS WHAT WE FEEL IS IMPORTANT TO US, OUR VALUES, OUR DREAMS, OUR GOALS.  THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU OR WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO.)

Would life be easier if my kids were in school and I had even a part-time job?  Hell yeah.  Have I ever secretly wished this were the case? YES.  My life is hard.  My husband is on the road for stretches of six weeks at a time.  My husband sacrifices his time with the littles, because he feels it is important that I stay at home with them.  I am basically a single mom, (although I get the cool benefit of having a paycheck dropped into my bank account each week) without time off or a break and no one here to help me or offer me a damn hug.  But is it worth it? HELL YEAH.

My kids are amazing, and I get to experience each and every day with them.  Each day is a gift- no matter how cranky they are, no matter how tight money is this week- I am so glad that I get to share every single blessed day with them.  They are happy and secure and kind children- and I know that is partly due to the love and attention they get all day long.

It is crazy what you can live on if you have to. It is eye-opening to find out what you can live without if you need to.  My kids are worth it.  We chose this lifestyle, for them, so that we can be together and help them learn and grow, because we think it is important and special to be a part of that process.

This is the only way in which my husband and I are privileged.

We are honored to be the parents of four such wonderful people.

Cooper Lawson

Willow Iris

Patrick James

Hannah Morrigan Sophia


Comments

  1. Just a random thought…I hope you’re not suggesting that if a mother chooses to work she’s somehow less of a mother and a parent? I mean, I’m 20 so I admit my life experience is limited, but I don’t think I could stay home all day with children and be happy – that’s not the sort of person I am and I probably never will be, no matter how much I love my children, I’d go stir crazy. Does that mean I don’t want children? No. Does that mean I’m going to be a bad mother? No. But I sort of get the impression that that’s what a lot of people are getting at when they comment here and I don’t think that’s cool :/

  2. Just found your blog recently and spent a good amount of an evening reading lots of posts – thank you for your writing! I’m the mother of a 17 month old baby girl, and I’ve been blessed to be at home with her so far for all of her little life, but I’ll be heading back to work in just one week. I’m pretty conflicted about it, and my husband & I have agreed that if it isn’t the right thing for our family, that I can go back to being a SAHM after one school year (I’m a teacher) if that’s what’s right for our daughter and for our family, even if it makes the finances more tricky. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this!

  3. Thank you for this. I too am a stay at home mom. I learned that there is a subtle but sinister meaning behind that word privilege. Many people use the word privilege in the sense of “special right or honor”. “It is a privileged to be speaking at the White House today”. But not liberal third wave feminists or the media. When they say “privilege” it goes more like this – “Anti-oppressionists use “privilege” to describe a set of advantages (or lack of disadvantages) enjoyed by a majority group, who are usually unaware of the privilege they possess. It is a term of art that may not align particularly well with the general-use word “privilege” or the programming term “privilege”. ” from (http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Privilege). In short it means you are subconsciously an oppressor and too stupid to understand this for yourself. So stay at home moms aren’t free women choosing for themselves, we are traitors who are too stupid to figure out we’re traitors.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] read­ing Kitchen Witch post about being a stay at home mom does not mean that she is rich, when peo­ple know I am a stay at home wife they basi­cally think I am lazy which is not the case [...]

  2. [...] AICI. Si un articol frumos despre sacrificiile familiei pentru ca mamica sa poata fi stay at home mom. [...]

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