This one’s for you, Skwishee.
I run my own business, from home. I work it in the “nooks and crannies” of my life. Between morning snacks and dishes, between making lunch and organizing arts & craft time, between going to the play ground and the OEYC drop-in programs, between laundry, homework, walking the dog, and so on.
Part of my business plan is to share the opportunity to have a home-based business with others (no, this is *not* a sales pitch – it’s a story, so stick with me). Another part is to talk to people. Sometimes I’m talking to colleagues and we compare notes on our business’. Other times I’m presenting something to a group, and people I don’t know come up to me and want to talk about my business. I’m sure this is a moot point – since I have a blog where I tell you stuff about me and my life – but I’ll make it anyway: I am fairly open about my life, in all areas. In fact, I often call myself an open book. So of course when these strangers ask me questions, I answer them honestly and sincerely. Most times what I say is well received, although there are times where I will be sharing what I like to call “a hard truth” and there is some push back. Because, just as the name implies, sometimes the truth is hard to hear.
Other times… other times the person – usually a woman (why are we so hard on other women?!?!) – will make a comment like, “Well of course that worked for you – you don’t work,” or, ” – you stay home,” or, “- you don’t have a job.”
I’m sure that there are lots of parents out there – Moms and Dads – who stay home with their children who can relate to a statement like these. I know Skwishee here can. I was always so upset and offended by this statement. I think this is because at the root, the person saying it is making a value judgement on me. I often feel that they are saying that I live in the lap of luxury, doing nothing all day but watching The Young & The Restless and doing yoga or something. And really – anyone who knows me at all knows that this is just not true. I never knew how to respond to this kind of commentary. Until…
Until a friend and colleague of mine told me what she says to those people. The conversation goes something like this:
Them: “Well of course that worked for you, you don’t have a job.”
S/WAHP: (Stay/Work At Home Parent): “Oh. I see. Well let me ask you a question: do you have children?”
Them: “Yes, I do.”
S/WAHP: “Ok, and from your comment I assume that you DO have a job?”
Them: “Yes, I do.”
S/WAHP: “I thought so. So let me ask you another question: what do you do with your children when you go to work? Do they stay home by themselves?”
Them: “Of course not – they go to daycare/the sitters.”
S/WAHP: “Well that makes sense, doesn’t it? And so tell me: do you pay your daycare/sitter?”
Them: “Yes, I do. $175 a week.”
S/WAHP: “Why?” A puzzled look usually greets this question. “Why do you pay them?”
Them: “Because they wouldn’t do it otherwise — I have to pay for the service!”
S/WAHP: “Yes – because it’s their job. They look after your children because it’s their job. So when I stay home with my children, I do it because now it’s my job.”
And really, as the S/WAHP, you aren’t being an asshole when you say this. Truly, we do not think of caring for children as jobs, when we do it for our own children. Which is terrible, really, considering that we really are shaping the future of the world to come by raising people who will become adults, voters, decision-makers, and so on. As the S/WAHP who points this out to the “them”, I am opening their eyes to their own bias and value proposition.
Sometimes they are open to the challenge of changing their perspective. Sometimes they are apologetic because they realize they’ve potentially offended me. And sometimes they are completely dismissive of my point. And when that happens I know for sure that they are being the asshole, not me.