Monday, August 06, 2007

In which I piss off my SAHM readers

This past weekend I accompanied BT to a backyard BBQ at the home of one of his fishing club friends. I know most of the guys, but never really met any of the wives. Feeling a little awkard, as I am not good at the social chit chatty thing with people I don't know, I sat at the "wives" table with the baby. In general most people were very nice, and everyone made very pleasant conversation. Most knew that seamonkey was adopted, as BT kept his fishing buddies informed during the whole process.

First, I should say that it's funny how I still don't feel part of the mommy club. I do feel like seamonkey's mom, when I'm with him and when we're with family. But being a mom as I relate to other (non family) moms is just ....weird. It's hard to explain. Suddenly my conversations are all about kids. Why? Is there nothing else to talk about? Do you really care when my son learned to crawl? Because I could care less about when yours did. It's nice to know about people's kids, as they are now - how many, what gender, what they're into and stuff...but why must we rehash entire childhoods? Can't we talk about news, movies, life in general? I am amazed that people ask me so many questions about the past 8 months of his life - it's so weird to me. It's worse when it becomes a competition, but I don't understand why those conversations get started in the first place. I am not defined by the fact that I have a child. Yeesh, I just got over being defined by my infertility and people want to stuff me in yet another pigeon hole....Anyway, I digress from the point of this post.

As I said, most people were very nice. Except one. The one I refer to as 'that ASS'. How that woman didn't end up with my fist lodged in her face by the end of the day is beyond me. Truthfully, I think what saved her is the fact that I wanted to be nice for the sake of my husband. I only later found out that he can't stand the husband either. She is lucky I did not have that information while I was sitting there.

When I first arrive, I sit in the only vacant seat, which was kind of in the sun, with the baby on my lap. THE ASS says "Honey, why don't you move over here so the baby doesn't get a sunburn" in a real condescending how-stupid-are-you tone. First, don't call me honey. Second, when I first sat down, your whiney child was still sitting there so there was nowhere else to sit. Okay fine, I move to sit right next to her. She talks in this very sing songy voice and is all me me me, have I told you about me? And how about me? And in case you didn't know? Me.

I soon realize that I met her before. BT took our Pilot on it's maiden voyage onto the beach. Her and I were the only women there, the rest were all fisherman from the club. When she formally introduced herself, I told her we had met. She gives me this ridiculous face and says "Sorry" as in, "I can't be expected to remember all of my fans". She knew who I was, I'm sure of it.

At one point, all the husbands go and take a picture in front of their fishing club banner. All of the wives, including me, make comments about what dorks they are. I mean, come on...grown men. Fishing club. Need I say more. THE ASS says "well...I really can't make fun, because I happen to LOVE to fish. husband is this close to becoming president of the club". Oooh, President? Wow! You must be so proud. I am so jealous that you are on deck to be THE FIRST WIFE of this raggety band of beer drinking bait smelling fisherman! I bow to your greatness!

Then THE ASS' husband is trying to prevent their son from going up to the pool deck without his lifejacket on (he's 5) and the kid is arguing about it. THE ASS yells up and asks what the problem is, husband explains. THE ASS then starts talking to the husband in that sing song voice like he's two..."Now honey (honey again!) he's a big boy now, I know you want to help him, but he's got to learn for himself...." Learn for himself? By drowning? And if my husband ever spoke to me like that in front of a group of people I would punch his lights out.

The aforementioned 5 year old? Has a mohawk. On his head. He's 5. Mohawk. 5.

Then came the straw on the proverbial camel's back. The dreaded SAHM discussion. I hate that discussion, because I am not a SAHM. When people get around to asking me, and I tell them our situation (I work, BT is a SAHD) everyone gets quiet and it's usually the end of the conversation. Usually I keep quiet the entire time, as I don't like to judge other people's situations, just like I don't like others to judge mine. But up to this point THE ASS has been jumping up and down repeatedly on my last nerve.

An older woman with grown children is talking benignly about raising her children, in the context of how things are so different today. THE ASS hears the words "stayed home with my children" and cuts her off by saying "--HARDEST JOB THERE IS. HARDER THAN ANY MAN'S JOB!". So my eyebrows shoot up, because I assume by "man's job" she means anyone with a job outside the home. Still trying to keep my foot out of her ass, I say "Well, I think that depends. It depends on what job you have (or had), how old and how active your kids are...I don't think you can make such a blanket statement". Of course she ignores me and prattles on and on about how EXHAUSTED she is and how her husband just doesn't GET IT and blah blah blah blah blah. She was in the RESTAURANT INDUSTRY so she worked at night and the hours were long, and blah blah blah and being a waitress - Wait, you were a freaking WAITRESS?? That's your big stressful job?? I snorted out loud at that one. She keeps going....blah blah My husband thinks I just sit AROUND all day blah blah..... Finally I say "Well guess what. I work full time and my husband stays home. I'm sure if you ask him he'll agree that he has the better end of the deal. I work all day and I come home and then I'm the mommy too". First came the expected silence. Then came the questions from the others, including asking what I did. I normally don't expound upon what I do, and never use my very official and important sounding title, but I had to this time, and did so in my "SO NOT A WAITRESS" voice. The conversation turned focus away from THE ASS, and since she was no longer the center of attention, she got up from the table.

I know this woman is a particular breed of annoying, but please, someone, for the life of me, explain why some (notice I say some here) SAHM's find the need to justify their position all the time? Of course your job is important. If it wasn't you and your husband wouldn't have agreed to have you home. Face it, the job comes with perks. Like you can go to the beach for the day, or in my husband's case, work on his boat, take the boy to the tackle store...whatever. Don't get defensive about it, be happy you can do those things. There are times I get to go to a fancy dinners without BT and he ribs me for it. So what? And why must we always compare anyway? Why does one job have to be harder than the other? I can see making your case if you are talking to someone like THE ASS (probably like her husband is) who insists that SAHMs do nothing but eat bonbons all day. But many people don't think that way. Please don't wear your SAHM badge like a chip on your shoulder. You don't know me, my family situation or my work situation. So please don't imply that your job is harder than mine. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Who cares? Raise your kid and I'll raise mine. It's not a contest.

And whether you're a SAHM, SAHD or you work, be proud of your role. We're all in this together.

And my kid crawled at 9 months. Did yours???


Julie said...

Ugh. I hate the comparison thing. You know what? Being a SAHM would be a damn hard job for me, harder than the one I have. Why? Because I love my work. Some SAHM's, they couldn't stand what I do and would say it was harder than what they do all day. It's all in the perspective, making it completely and totally impossible to compare.

wavybrains said...

I'm so tired of the women who make negativity it's own competition. They delight in telling how horrible their lives are---but what gets me is they often do this in full hearing of their kids! I mean, scare me all you want, but should the kids really be hearing their mother talk about how much they hate being home with them??? I'm thinking that can't be good for their self-esteem. Maybe you should go back and kick her. Just once.

Bezzie said...

I'm convinced it's the single moms and dads that have it the hardest if we're going to get into a pissing contest about who's got the biggest burden to shoulder. I've walked a 1/2 mile in those shoes, and good lord that was tough. Being a working parent and a SAHP pales in comparison!

I've always hated those social situations where all you have in common with someone is that you have a kid. Yawn!!

Lauri said...

That woman sounds like a first class asshat.....

Good point about being defensive... I can relate to that.. I am still finding my niche in this SAHM role and do feel the need to sometimes explain are right.. we are all in this together

Good post

Anonymous said...

I'm a WAHM (which to many is a SAHM anyway) & I really don't like getting together with other "mommies" & discussing the kids like that's all that's important, either. I hate to admit it, but like you, I honestly don't care when someone else's kid crawled. I can barely remember when mine did. And some people may accuse me of not loving my kids like they love theirs because each & every milestone isn't recorded in a baby book somewhere & I don't talk about them nonstop, but I just assume that grownups like to talk about OTHER things besides kids all the time. Sorry, you've really touched a nerve here. I was a lot of other things before I was a mom. Am I happy to be able to work at home? Oh yes! Is it a hard job? Sure. But maybe not as hard as digging ditches in this 100-degree heat.

Samantha said...

I wish that women could all not feel so competitive about whether or not they work. It's such as shame that women feel forced to justify their position, whether or work or stay-home, and everyone ends up feeling damned-if-you-do or damned-if-you-don't. No one expects dads to have their life solely revolve around children, but women still seem to be forced to make this choice. It sounds like the ASS has some pretty conflicted feelings about her role as a SAHM, and her method of dealing with them is to take out her anger on anyone else not following her path.

Dirkey said...

People are always complaining that there lives are the worst blah blah blah.. Getting in competitions, please thats not one I want to win!

Michelle Smiles said...

Don't put us all in the same category at the ass! LOL. I think SAHMs and working moms both get defensive because we worry that others judge our choices. I worry that people think I have less value as an interesting person because I am a SAHM now. But the competition thing is silly. And I agree - why can moms only talk about their kids? Why can't we have conversations that don't revolve around poop and naps? I miss people assuming I wanted to talk about other things in life!

mama k said...

I am sooo pissed right now.

Just kidding!!! :)

Really, she sounds like a beyotch and a generally insecure person with a not so great marriage. It just sounds like she was projecting those issues onto anyone who would listen.

It is my PERSONAL conviction that a parent should be the primary caregiver. For me, handing my child off to some just out of high school, barely gets more than minimum wage, daycare worker 8+ hours a day is just not going to cut it. If I was going to do that, I wouldn't have had children. (Not judging others choices, just MY feelings about MY child.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think it's awesome that BT can be a SAHD! Sure, it is not the most conventional set up, but someone has to make the money and someone has to take care of the baby. Which parent does which is not a big issue in my mind.

Sure, being a SAHP is hard sometimes. You do feel underappreciated. Sometimes by your spouse, sometimes by your kids, sometimes by society that does not measure success by a happy, well-adjusted family. There is no one giving you a raise or a promotion if you do a good job washing 10-million loads of laundry or changing dozens of diapers. But as you mentioned it has many perks. I love staying home and feel blessed that we've been able to make it work.

As I'm sure you can attest being a WOHP is not easy either.
You have different challenges to face. It's not a matter of which job is harder or easier.
Being a parent is not easy all the time. period.

And you know, I would love to talk non-baby stuff but it is just easier to start up the baby talk around other moms. It's something you know you have in common. It's just like people who talk about their jobs. Right now he IS my 24/7 job so it's what I mostly have going on right now.
Still, some adult conversation would be a nice change. :)

Elle said...

Damn, I don't know when my son crawled for the first time. But he did count from 3 to 9 this morning on his own and he's 2 months shy of 3. Do I get a sticker?

I gotta say I have the perks as a parent. Sure I chase a very active toddler around all day long, but the trusty husband, he has to look at boring financial numbery stuff, drive all over hell's half acre to do office reviews and put up with corporate brainwashing. No thanks. I did that once. I'll take the beach any day.

I give you big credit for being the working parent. And big wig corporate fancy pants at that.

Doesn't matter if you work outside the home or are the stay at home parent. Each job comes with its downfalls and perks.

Jenni said...

I think my foot would have "slipped" under the table a few times to give The ASS a swift kick in the shin. The first kick would have come after she called me "Honey." God, I hate that!

As a part-time SAHM, I've had a bit of the best of both worlds. I've been able to escape to work a day or two a week, and stay with the kids the other days. There is no doubt that being a SAHM is difficult. It can be exhausting and at times you feel like you never get a break. I much prefer the days when I work (which are also exhausting, but at least I'm doing something that is my own). While being a SAHM has perks that no job does (like being able to go to the beach on a Monday), I would never wish to be a SAHM full-time, mostly because I miss being around adults and discussing things that have nothing to do with children. I think when you are so immersed in being a mom and a wife, maybe you loose a tiny bit of who you were before you entered those roles. Perhaps that is why The ASS has such a chip on her shoulder?

I also never do the comparing thing about kids. It seems so pointless, since my kids are perfect. ;)

Anyway, my hat's off to you for your restraint. The ASS has no idea how lucky she is to have escaped your fist!

annmarie said...

I had a similar situation a few weeks ago with the who-did-what-and-when crap. Kudos to you for not hitting that woman upside the head with a brick.

MMrussianadoption said...

Can I be there when you do finally hit her upside the head. Just give me a heads up so I can grab some popcorn and a coke.

Rachael said...

I usually try to stay out of the SAHM discussion. But, it SOOOO rubs me the wrong way when people go on and on and on about how hard it is.

I work 4 days a week and let me tell you, I LIVE for my weekday off each week. Of course, I'm not complaining about the income I generate during those 4 days I work either, so I fully understand there are good and bad sides to all situations and everyone's is unique. I like my job, but I like my kids more, and that one week day I spend with them is my favorite one all week. I wish it could be 4 home days, 1 work day, same income....if only.

And, like you, I probably wouldn't have been able to hold my tongue any longer with that woman either. Funny, does she have any idea who she's messing with, Starfish? (meaning of course, that unbeknownst to her she gets to be immortalized on the internet as THE ASS). ohhh, you were so smart to make your blog all anonymous and stuff. ;>

Tricia said...

i think you're hilarious. and right. i haven't figured out whether i will work or be a SAHM. i think there is pluses and minuses for both. i'm the same in social situations. the competitiveness and "my life sucks more than yours" conversations drive me nuts!

Tami said...

You go girl! I don't know how you restrained yourself. I probably would have gone off on club or no fishing club.
I've done all three options...full-time, part-time and SAHM. I have my preference, but it's just that, MY preference. I wish women like her would quit comparing things and just do what they think is best for their family.
(Alright, I'm stepping off my soapbox now.)

Anonymous said...

I would have been right there with you!! I dread the day when I have to hang out with other moms because of that crap you just described. I've always liked being around men more than women (mostly because the women talk about their "oops" pregnancies, and infertility has left me kinda bitter about stuff like that, ya know).

Orignially, DH and I were planning on him being a SAHD, but because of his career taking off, the likelyhood of me losing my job because we're adopting, and other stuff, it looks like all be the SAH parent.

Jenny said...

OY. I don't really discuss staying home. I don't really discuss much because I don't get out. But honestly, no one wins this war. No ONE. Both jobs are equally hard in completely different ways.

What gets me is the families that have a parent stay home and then resent it. I hate that. If you want your spouse to work, then put the kid in daycare and have them get a job.

I happen to be in a good situation. My C knows we both work hard and either of us degrade or downplay the others stress. That is how it should be. And with "the A" F her....she is one of those chicks you see at the store and put head down and keep on keeping on!

Miss Scarlett said...

That kind of conversation/situation is my worst nightmare. I hate, hate, hate people that have to know so much about everyone in their vicinity so they can compare it with themselves.

I don't have any children but I already have heard a lifetime amount of my baby did such and such by this age and how about yours? from working in Preschool/Tot programs. It can make me dizzy with boredom.

I don't get the whole comparison thing - at all. I mean, it is one thing to dish with a good friend/family about your baby's milestones or concern about the possible delay in the milestones of an acquaintance's baby(only out of concern of course ;-/ ) But this whole group thing? I just don't get it. Baby group sounds like a complete nightmare - I so don't want to be spending time with people just because we both have babies. I am not friend's with people because of any other personal belonging (please don't freak out - I know babies are much, much more than that but if you look at it in that light - what kind of weirdo way is that to select friends?)

Whoo - lost my point somewhere in there...Oh yeah. We get parents telling us that they envy us our work - and you know what, I bet they do sometimes. We do get to go to the beach, the wavepool, the amusement park, outside every day -- but, we also have tantrums, arguments, personality conflicts, bullies (kids and parents in all of these categories!) lice, illnesses, children's tragic home life situations that we have to try, futilely, not take home with us at night, regulations, bosses, inspectors, reports, paperwork etc. etc. Day in and Day out. Just like all the little and big things that are a part of their job. But I just smile and agree that yeah - we are looking forward to a great day and I hope they have one too.
Because if we go down that road - even I will be shaking my head and looking for a new job!

I think Bezzie is right - single parents have really got it rough, because even I have co-workers to turn to when things get too much in the moment.

My dog was potty trained at...oh wait, she still goes in the house sometimes - never mind!

Chris & Michelle Sapp said...

That entire story made me laugh and mad all in one. I just posteda story of multiples "asses" that made me mad on my blog. Some people! Just happened to stumble on your blog :-)


ruth said...

Oh yea, something to look forward too:)The SAHMs I've met here so far seem to be of a similar breed...

I loved your post, and I had to laugh at your 'not a waitress voice' good for you.

My guess is that she is very insecure in her own position as a wife, and about her previous employment, hence the need to brag. I do think that you were much more restrained than I would have been.

Samantha said...

I'm not trying to hog your comments section, but I just wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog yesterday. Your experience going through adoption and getting to learn about the happy conclusion and beyond has definitely provided some positive reinforcement for me that my "plan B" could be a great option.

Jill said...

eff her - and you know what i always say "if the mom is happy the kid is happy."

Andrea said...

You know that my DH and I will be in a similar situation as you and your DH. I will go back to work, and he'll be a semi-SAHD, working on the weekends and evenings. So far, I haven't gotten any snarky comments, but I am sure we will. And, as usual, I won't be able to come up with anything snappy until well after the comment occurs. Most of my friends who have had children before us (okay ALL of my friends have had children before us) work, so I don't think there will be any of that uncomfortable conversation. BUT, the church we go to is chock full of SAHM's, so it's something we need to be prepared for. I figure, as long as one parent is home, then it's all good. I would go out of my mind being a SAHM. My DH is excited about his role, and I know our child will be well-adjusted and loved.

But for the record, I am sure being married to a former punk rocker, our son will have a mohawk as soon as he can ;)

Andrea said...

P.S. email me

Third Mom said...

"explain why some (notice I say some here) SAHM's find the need to justify their position all the time?"

Because they haven't experienced the particular brand of joy that comes with being beaten to a pulp by corporate America, that's why.

I've been home, and I've worked. Home is better, hands down. I can clean three bathrooms, do six loads of laundry, go to the supermarket and be rarin' to go out on the town. But a day chained to my desk, eyes squinting at the computer screen, boss snapping at every turn, turns me to mush.

Home is better. End of story.

OHN said...

My husband could never understand why I didn't want to join the local preschool moms club and spend a bunch of time at the swingset listening to annoying women comparing their infant/toddlers with other ones. My eyes would start to glaze over and I would have to get out of ther pronto before I alienated all the SAHM's there. I have done it all, been a SAHM, been a part time SAHM and am now a WAHM. They are ALL hard you just do what you have to do. To be honest, I found being a full time SAHM the hardest because it was so freaking boring. There are only so many games, books etc that you can use to entertain the little ones and I longed for an adult to have an actual conversation with. I ADORE MY KIDS but I am an adult and need that part of my brain stimulated too.

Mike & Lisa said...

AMEN sister!!
I LOVE your commentaries.

I have 4 kids and work part time, during school hours, (best of all worlds). I can't stand people who make their life choices, and then proceed to parade around campaigning for their choice, as though trying to convince themselves it was the right one. (like the ASS, for instance)
You go girl!