"Being a stay at home mom is a luxury."

Whether or not this phrase is true, it is deeply annoying to me. I want to explain why I don't think it's true, but you can disagree with me and I'm okay with that.

In all fairness, the person who said this probably was using the word to mean "blessing," which I would definitely agree with. It is a huge blessing that I can stay home while my kids are little. I don't think anybody would argue that.

But when a working mom says that being a stay home mom is a luxury, it irritates me to the point of cracking me up. What is a luxury? Something superfluous, that would be nice to have but is not necessary, something extra.

I think stay-home parenting has been and should continue to be the standard.

Lots of moms work, for many reasons including in order to make ends meet. I am NOT judging you for your personal lifestyle choices. I do NOT think that working moms are evil. I do NOT think that it is always mom who needs to stay home. All I'm saying is that in my opinion, the standard is that a parent should raise their own children. Doing this is not a luxury, it is an expectation of parenthood. When it doesn't happen, for whatever reason, it is an exception to the expectation.

I'm fairly certain that most working moms would agree with this. All the working moms I've met have had the attitude: "You're so lucky to be able to stay home!" In which case, they use the term luxury as blessing, which it totally is, and now we're just parsing words.

Staying home with your kids is like bread. Can you live without bread? Yes, but it's better to have it. It is the "staff of life." In Egypt, it is called aish, which means "life." Every culture has some form of bread.

Can all people eat it? No. People with celiac aren't able to digest the gluten. It makes them sick. This is an exception to the norm, which is that most people can eat it.

Staying home with your kids is like breastmilk. Can your baby live without breastmilk? Yes, but it's better to have it. There are many health benefits including increased immunity to disease, to name just one. Every culture has women who breastfeed their babies.

Can all people breastfeed? No. There are many who don't have an adequate supply. Their babies must have formula in order to eat. But this is an exception to the norm, which is that most moms can breastfeed.

Staying home with your kids while they are little is important. Can your kids live without it? Obviously they can. Is it better if a parent can do it? Yes. Is it the norm? I don't know, but I think it *should* be. There are stats floating around about that say 60-ish % of women with kids work, and 40-ish % of them don't. But what does that even mean? Clearly there is a difference between the working woman who is gone 12 hours a day and almost never sees their child from a teacher who is gone while their kids are in school, or somebody who goes to work somewhere part time in the evenings in order to make ends meet, etc.

My opinion is that staying home is something that most people want to do, whether or not the majority actually do. It does not fall under the category of "superfluous", or "something that would be nice." Calling it a luxury demeans the occupation, and it irritates me.

Besides, when I think of my life in terms of "luxury", it's so hilarious and laughable. Especially considering that I drove pretty far to get 2 filing cabinets for $15 yesterday, and Danny and I worked for about two hours scrubbing three-or-four-times-handed-down leather couches in order for them to be clean enough to sit on. OooOOOoooh, so luxurious!!! haha.


  1. Go Kate. I agree with your apt analogies--especially the bread one. Being a stay-at-home mom may 'feel' luxurious to someone on the outside, but from what I know from most mothers, using the word 'luxury' to describe it is positively ridiculous. I really get frustrated with this idea that you HAVE to have 2 working parents, otherwise you can't afford...

    ...your extra 2 cars, or a big screen TV, or a house the size of Miami, or a boat, or a truck to pull the boat that guzzles gas all the time that you're using it to drive to work. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but when they replace parent-child interaction (under most pretenses), the children, and the world of the future suffers. Comparing a luxury, like a boat, to being at home to spend time with your children is ludicrous. My heart goes out to single parents, who have little recourse available to them.

    I've also been thinking recently about benefits in the workplace. I've come to the conclusion that there are three items I'd like to see become standard. 1) Paid maternity leave-- for at least the first 3-5 weeks. 2)Paternity leave (this one could be unpaid, I think) for up to 2 months. 3) Inbetween options for parents who would like to take some leave, but don't actually need to be at home 24/7-- Ex: With no reduction in pay, for 4 months after a baby is born, dad can take a 3 hour break for lunch, to go home and help out. (This could work for moms, too). Or for 6 months after the birth, moms could work 5 hours a day instead of 8.

  2. Scrubbing couches and picking up filing cabinets is luxurious when you compare it to people who don't know when their next meal is going to be... but I think blessed is a much better adjective when describing your and Danny's lifestyle.

    Also, saying that being a stay-at-home-mom is a luxury implies that it's easy and relaxing... and from spending just three days with you and Dan and Jane in January, I can pretty much say that that is utterly ridiculous! I don't think I've ever been so tired in my entire pregnancy! And I hardly did ANYTHING!! Of course, it was super fun. But only because your kids are so darn cute. I think that must be an evolutionary thing that children have developed to help them survive...

  3. Very well put Kate. I totally agree.

  4. I'm feeling so luxurious right now with my bag of bon bons and my soap opera. So kidding, I've never tried a bon bon in my life and don't have time to watch soaps. Nice post.

  5. When I say being a SAHM is a luxury, I definitely don't mean it's relaxing or glamorous. It isn't. But it's a luxury in the sense that you have a stable enough financial situation and your husband makes enough money for the both of you so you CAN stay at home with the kids. Many women would love to have a man fully support them while they stay at home with their kids but it's simply not financially possible for them. Just because it's a luxury doesn't mean it isn't a good thing. Organic food is a luxury as is having the time to work out. These things are good, but they are a luxury for some.


Add a comment!