I hate the word housewife. I hate the word homemaker. These words are so loaded with patriarchal bullshit that I can barely utter them in any seriousness, much less use them to describe myself or what I do. Yet that’s the check-box that applies to me. And because of it, I get dismissed by the folks at the bank, the car dealership, and occasionally, other parents. It feels like a pretty limiting check box. But what else do I call myself? How can I encapsulate what I do, day in and day out, without sounding either overly-simplistic or self-denigrating?
I am educated, I love to read, I love to write, and researching is one of my strong points. I always thought I’d find myself in academia, and was always planning to further my educational career; however, life smacked me hard in the face and I had to learn to deal with it and put other selfish notions on hold.
Staying at home with my baby boy has been such a learning experience! Some days I am absolutely thrilled and filled with gratitude for being able to watch this little human being grow right before my eyes, second after second. And other days, I want to pull my hair out because I’m just so tired and frustrated with the behind-the-scenes tantrums, whining, and mess-load that I, ultimately, will have to fix/clean on my own until my partner comes home. These types of days (and often nights) sometimes make me think about returning to the paid workforce. Do I really want to return? Send my child to daycare? Pay for daycare, for what? To create a sense of sanity in my own selfish brain that I can “get away” from it all? Then as I circle back to my rational thoughts, I find that THIS IS MY WORKFORCE.
I find that my “title” as keeping the household running is a complete understatement. Like I said, I may be out of the PAID workforce, but nonetheless, I have not left the workforce all together. I don’t deal in the economies of paychecks and work politics, but I do deal in the economies of bumps and bruises, tantrums, play dates, trips to the park, and juice boxes. All the while, I’m still trying to implement a sense of humanity, creativity, and love for life into BOTH my own and my son’s world.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I wish I had more time on my own, more money to spend on my family, more positive feedback to nurture my own needs and to feel important in the world. But this I know for sure. Child raising is labor. A labor of love, most certainly, but labor nonetheless. Hard labor. The hours are crap, the pay is worse, and the acknowledgement from the world around us pretty non-existent.
I’m a teacher and a doctor and a therapist and a laundromat. I’m a playgroup leader, a chef, and a nutritionist. I’m a personal shopper, a cleaning lady, and a librarian. I’m a taxi driver and the occasional jailer. I’m the CEO of this operation, and I’m pretty good at it. I’m up to my eyeballs in laughter, tears, dirty diapers, and snotty kleenex. I’m on call 24/7.
Fit that in a check-box. Stop asking me when I’m going back to work. Because if this isn’t work, then I don’t know what is.
- Primrose Villena, AF3IRM South Bay-LA Coordinator
Stay at home moms are underrated, under appreciated, and misunderstood. I’ve been fighting with my own views versus society’s views of a stay at home mom; and frankly, I’m tired of having to defend my type of workforce, paid or unpaid. I’m tired of having to explain why this recently became my path. Do you always explain at the get go why you chose to be a doctor? Or a teacher? Or a mailman? In a nutshell, my son needed me. And I’ve learned that being a stay at home mom (let alone being a mom in general) is the most difficult task I’ve ever been handed. My name is Primrose, and I am a stay at home mom. Period.