Why Being a Stay At Home Parent is the Toughest Job in the World, Written by Someone Without Children

I’m going to start this post by making a statement that some may not like.

I don’t like young children.

I’ve never been a maternal person. I come from a small family of four, with no additional relatives and so I wasn’t brought up with any younger children other than my two sisters. As I started to reach my 30’s I expected to feel the desire to become a mother that some of my friends claimed that they felt, but to this very day I have yet to feel anything but annoyance.

They’re everywhere.

While others around me seem to turn mushy when presented with a new baby, proclaiming how ‘beautiful’ it is, I am simply reminded of the ‘Cabbage Patch Kids’ that I had when I was little. Regardless of where I am and what I am doing, it always seems to be accompanied by a screaming child and it’s frustrated parents – shopping, restaurants, public transport, even the cinema… I have lost count of the amount of times my ankles have been battered by a pushchair or I have been woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of next door’s toddler having some sort of tantrum (although they’re lovely so I don’t actually mind)…

I am a big advocate in maintaining authenticity when writing, I believe that everybody should be entitled to their opinion and most of the time I avoid becoming involved in controversial discussion. However, I read a post this morning that both shocked and amused me at the sheer ignorance demonstrated in it’s content. In short, it diminishes and destroys the role of the ‘stay at home mother,’ claiming that a woman who chooses to raise her children on a full-time basis need to stop complaining about how difficult it as and categorises the process of getting married and having children as ‘average’ in the fact that everyone can do it.

Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself?

The reason why I don’t have children is simple: it is the hardest job in the world.

I work. I work really hard. I can sometimes work as many as 100 hours a week and those of you that follow my blog reguarly will be aware of my current frustrations with my profession. However, when I have finished work I get to go home, put the laptop down and spend a few hours in the bath. The Bloke and I can have some quality time together, we can go for a meal, watch a film, I can meet my friends for a quick drink or visit my mother. If I want to stay in bed until 9.00am at the weekends, I can.

This is not a luxury that is available for a parent, regardless of whether they work or not (and here I say parent rather than mother as there are plenty of fathers that stay at home too). In between feedings, changes, comforting, entertaining and household chores (all this being done whilst suffering from severe sleep deprivation) most parents are lucky if they get five minutes to themselves. Indeed, when I have visited friends with young children I am exhausted after just a few hours and thank my lucky stars that I am able to return to my nice, quiet house.

At thirty-two years old, my mother was, and still is, my rock. She was a stay at home mum up until I started school, at one point having three children under the age of six, and some of my earliest memories are of her teaching me how to read and playing games. I lived in a clean house, wore clean clothes and ate three healthy meals every day. When I was ill, she took me to the doctors and worried until I got better. Her evenings were spent taking me to the various activities that I was involved in. She attended every parents evening and every performance I was involved in. She taught me how to knit, sew and cook. When I took my GCSE exams, she sat and revised with me every night. She praised me, encouraged me, and disciplined me when my behaviour was not acceptable. When I was nineteen, she cried when I left home to go to university. She’s taken calls from me at 2.30am and has patiently listened and offered advice. She’s laughed with me, cried with me and grieved with me. There have been times when I was young where I have let her down, dismissed her and been rude to her, but even now is prepared to drop whatever she is doing to help my sisters and I with anything we need.

Over the last thirty two years my mother hasn’t just had the job of being a mother and a P.A.(the job she actually gets paid for). She has taken on the role of taxi driver, teacher, therapist, chef, cleaner, maid, waitress, hairdresser, tailor, party planner, nurse and a personal ATM for the three of us and I don’t remember her asking for much in return. However, as an adult, I have been able to help her out and/or spoil her when she has needed it, and it is a great feeling!

So, for those of you that look down on the role of a parent, I advise you to go and spend just a few hours with one and their offspring.

And for now, I’ll stick to teaching. Far easier.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

146 thoughts on “Why Being a Stay At Home Parent is the Toughest Job in the World, Written by Someone Without Children

  1. Great post. I’m not going to read the article you refer to because I’m sure it’ll piss me off. I’m a working mom. I wasn’t sure I wanted kids until I hit 30. I had two boys, 3 1/2 years apart so I didn’t have to deal with 2 in diapers at the same time. I have a great family and pretty good balance. I love my life and can appreciate the fact that what works for me doesn’t work for someone else. And since I’m not in someone else’s shoes, I can’t really say who has the toughest job. Why would we anyway. People are too judgy!

  2. Wow. I was just by your blog earlier for “A Fat Disney Princess”, and here I am back again because of this link from Kenneth Justice’s blog.

    I’ve said this over the years that I would much rather read someone’s reasons for not having children (another blogger I follow gave his recently, which I respect) than to watch bad examples of parenting. And as a disabled SAHD of children with special needs, including a son with autism, I do mean *bad*. The parents that drop off their kids at the mall, pool, library– who then have the gall to think employees of said places will look after their children, for better or for worse.

    Of course, this article in question you’ve referenced has been rocking my blogroll for a little while now. I’ve been reading various opinions on it, which I won’t go into too much, save… well, I think shock and spite just to garner attention online is rather contemptible, although I guess it has spurred some discussion.

    • You have my absolute respect for everything that you do. I’m a teacher and I’ve found that some parents see me as a babysitting service – it’s incredibly insulting!

      Thank you for your kind response to my blog – really appreciate it!

      • You’re quite welcome.

        I was an elementary education student before going on disability (very long story), and so I do have some understanding on a teacher’s perspective.

        It would annoy me too, both from a parenting and a teaching view. It’s one thing when parents work blue-collar, and are genuinely strapped on time and resources, but when they have the time and money to pay attention to their kids… argh. Some parents I saw acting neglectful appeared as if they had kids just for social status or to meet expectations.

        Anyways, having received some training, I have respect for anyone that takes on teaching in school, especially since it seems to be more of a calling than an adequately compensated profession. Especially so since teachers straight across the board are asked to do more and more. I don’t think anyone does it strictly for the pay or the benefits, and I’m putting that mildly. If only that were not so true…

  3. I can see why it’s so popular. This is a topic that touches a nerve, and parenthood in general is under-valued. It comes across as a very honest piece of writing, without being mean to anyone.

    I did what I could to help you on Facebook (my FB shares aren’t worth a whole lot), and I followed you on Tumblr. The Tumblr site for my own project is a disaster – don’t really have time to do anything over there, but we do have a page that’s being updated from three blogs. It’s always nice to meet someone on WordPress and be able to find them on Tumblr.

    I found this post because I follow you on Twitter. You should keep that up. I am an amateur, and just getting started, but Twitter is powerful if you can figure out how to use it.

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  5. Gosh, that article you’re responding to reminds me of why feminism has become such a dirty word lately. “You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.” Sheesh. Appalling.

    • Normally, I’d leave posts like that one alone, but I have so many friends that are parents I had to respond with my thoughts… Unfortunately, there seems t be a trend with writing hateful things to provoke enough response to create enormous views…

      • Yes. I went through the rabbit-hole and read the “Who is” stuff. Basically, the writer suggests that she’s being deliberately scandalous. The trouble with that, especially in such a short piece, is that I now have zero interest in what she has to say, because I feel as though he’s belittled an entire part of the female population, even if she was being harsher than what she perhaps believes.

    • I’m so glad you found your way here πŸ™‚ And WTF is this Thought Catalog. I must confess I did not even click on the link until you reblogged it. I have a friend who I have even gone so far as to nominate for an award, who reblogs the Thought Catalog frequently when she is too busy to post. Do I need to go and take a close look at that site? And who looks down on people because of their marital and procreational status?

  6. Pingback: Difficult is a Relative Word: Responding to “Why Being a Stay at Home Parent is the Toughest Job in the World” | Part Time Monster

  7. Reblogged this on Sunshinebright and commented:
    I’m posting this blog written by one of the bloggers I follow on WordPress: Suzie81’s Blog. She is a proficient blogger and this particular blog has hit many nerves and has received a huge amount of positive feedback. Enjoy!

  8. What an impressive tribute to your Mom and all parents. It’s refreshing to hear a young person, especially one without an agenda, speak so highly of the most difficult and never ending job around. Kudos!

  9. I shouldn’t have gone in and read that post, Suzie. I just shouldn’t have.
    As a teacher and the mother of 7 I take great offence at the notion that anyone would suggest motherhood was a cop out.
    Both jobs are difficult certainly. So many weans! But motherhood goes on forever. It’s a challenge and the best one there is when trying to do it right.
    But look at what is possible. http://scottishmomus.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/my-crew/
    I wouldn’t have it any other way. But for anyone to suggest it is the easy option is grossly insulting and speaks of someone unable to recognise a mother’s worth. Pity their own poor mum if that’s what their perception of motherhood is.
    Fabulous post, Suzie. And just goes to show that we don’t all need to walk the same walk to understand what it feels like in another’s shoes.
    Go viral, doll! πŸ™‚ x

    • Absolutely! It isnt often i respond to other posts that I find negative, but i couldnt help it wi this one! I remember seeing your post the first time and admiring what a beautiful family you have… It’s nowhere near viral yet, but it is doing very well, I just hope people keep sharing!

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  11. i did many jobs in my life–i’ve been a certified nurses aid, a humane officer, and as well as working most every position in a restaurant. all of these jobs were grueling, but nothing compared to being a stay-at-home mom. there are so many unique challenges to this job. one i struggle with is the isolation & the lack of adult stimuli! i love to write & do artwork & to spend time alone…none of these can easily be done with children around. fortunately, i also love being with my kids. thank you for your post. very well said.

  12. Great post Suzie!
    I never understood why people see the role of a parent as ‘easy’ or to mean that they don’t have ambitions because all they want is kids and once you have kids, that’s it.
    My mum was a stay at home mom when my brother and I were young, I was taught to read at a very young age, my mom was always there.

    I have two younger sisters and my mom works now, and she doesnt have as much time with them as she did with me, and I can really see the difference between how I was raised and how they’re being raised. But my mom has no choice but to work now.

    Raising a kid is definitely not easy, and looking down on parents for doing something ‘anyone can do’ [yeah right] is pretty shitty.

    So ups for this post πŸ™‚

  13. Suzie! I had to read on when I saw the initial admission about not liking young children. Very nice read. You really have a knack for finding topics that engage. I wonder where you get your topic ideas? That said, I have run a law firm, done trial work where criminals can face life sentences, I have moved across the country without family, and I have now had the pleasure of becoming a mother. Bar none, motherhood is the hardest of these things for me. (Goes without saying that It’s also great). Glad you know yourself well enough to know what you want.

  14. I like this blog. I come from a very dysfunctional family. I wish I had a relationship with my Mother as you do with yours. I have two children from a failed first marriage. And if I knew then what I know now, I would never have had kids. I love babies when they belong to someone else and after I have held them I can give them back. Crying and screaming babies set me on edge. And I got quite a few spankings or worse, growing up. There are a lot of kids nowadays that I would love to give a good thrashing too because of their mouth and disrespect. I love my kids but I do better at loving them from a distance. As I do from my Mother. I don’t look down on someone because they don’t want children, I have to admire them for it. I didn’t want grandchildren and still don’t. I do have a granddaughter and I love her to death. It is only because of the situation with my daughter that I wish she didn’t have a child. She is always putting my granddaughter in dangerous situations it seems. All I can do is pray God will keep them both safe.

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  16. Hi Suzie! I’m visiting from SITS. So glad to have found your blog.
    I used to be you. 30-something, childless, work-a-holic, not particularly fond of young people who cry a lot. Oh, and I had a mother that I absolutely adored who could have been your mom too.
    My son was born in 2011 so I’m still getting used to being a mom. It’s not easy. The work is hard, yes. And 24/7, true. But, I love him. What can I say. When you love someone, it changes you. πŸ™‚

  17. This was great! Thank you. I’m not even going to read the article you referenced, because I am a stay at home / work at home mom of 3. I work odd hours so I can pay bills and be here for my kids…and it’s a lot of work when you add it all up. When I worked corporately before kids, I could pack it up and go home…now the work never ends. I’m not complaining because being a parent has lots of great rewards too. I certainly understand your perspective on why you don’t have kids as well. Personally I think people write stuff like that just for the attention. I’m not giving it to her. Visiting from SITS and I’m stumbling your post as well.

  18. This is why having kids just doesn’t appeal to me. I enjoy my free time. I love writing in a quiet space. If I had kids, I don’t know when I would find the time to write. I give props to the parents out there who manage their time and make things work.

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