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Took The Wind Right Out Of Me



It happened again.  After all these years, after all of the conversations, the comment was made and it hit me hard. Took the wind out of me, the words "Dad goes to work".  Dismissing my contributions, struck me right in the heart.

This comment was made by my 15 yrs. old daughter in the middle of a weekend when I was able to provide fun experiences that were new to us, and on track to add funds to the till.  "Dad goes to work".  She followed with the words "Oh, I'm kidding! Just kidding.  You know what I mean, he has an office.  And, well, and..."  Yes.  Yes, I know.  

Rob does provide financially for the whole family.  Without his income we would be in deep doo doo.  I know.  I am thankful everyday for how hard my husband works.  He has never made me feel uncomfortable with my financial contribution.  But my child, my daughter, who is old enough to know better and who I have been having conversations with for years about the parts we play in this family, shot me down.

I am her first guide.  I want to be a woman she looks up to, and with this comment, I felt dismissed, I felt low, I felt ridiculous.  

My husband, Rob, sat on the couch, shaking his head saying, "You're not getting help from me to get out of this one."  I replied like I have in years past when my kids complain about helping with housework, I mentioned the clean clothes that she gets to wear, the food cooked, the blah blah blah.  "I know, I know" she says.  

She didn't want to upset me and she didn't intend to hurt my feelings with her comment.  This is true.  But her comment fed into my guilt about not bringing home the money like my husband does - realizing that his job does not make him happy in the least, and how I wish I could generate his scale of income so he could quit - all of that, all of those thoughts swirl inside me and I feel like crap.  

"Dad goes to work".  Yes he does.  And I do too. 

My work is not in a proper office, I work from home.  My office is the dining room table, a picture window, the smell of dirty dishes in the sink and my laptop.  I don't have a salary, I work on commission.  If I'm going to get paid I have to look for work that will pay me.  Every. Single. Day.  And I do this while taking care of my family, the house, our pets.  CFO, CEO, chauffeur and cook (not my strong suit, but I'm getting better at it!).  My husband and I decided on this arrangement for our family.

It just breaks my heart that at age 15 my daughter doesn't think I work.  After the years of explaining what I do, (and she reaps the benefits of what I do!) that she still doesn't get it.  How am I missing the mark here?   Have you had this experience?  What did you do?  How did you handle it?


*To read more Tuesday Truth:

~ "It's Getting Hot In Here"

~ "Talked Myself Into It"

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44 comments:

  1. That s a tough one. No matter which choice we make I think we all feel guilty at times. I ve always worked outside the home and even though I enjoy my work, I have questioned my choices many many times as I he wrestled with mommy guilt.
    Angela @ Time with A & N

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    1. Thanks Angela. I'm just trying to figure out how I'm not getting a message through to my daughter that "work" isn't about going to an office. Also, I need to figure out why this kind of comment bothers me so.

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  2. I think you keep living by example. I know one time I told my Mom I didn't want to be like her, because I didn't see the merit in being a stay-at-home mom. Now I am a stay-at-home mom. I think being a Mom is invaluable, but maybe is not as common as it used to be. Thanks for the post.

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    1. It's not as common, that's true. But I wonder how, at her age and after the years of conversation, she is giving the vibe of "office = worth". I'm stumped.

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  3. Oh, that's a tough one! I feel the same guilt you do... I'm home with my two surviving triplets and while I love caring for them (and they need me), I 'miss' working. I feel guilty that I don't do 'real' work. It took a long time (okay, they're only 21 months, but you know what I mean) for me to realize I AM doing REAL work. Do you think maybe that your guilt shows to your daughter and that you are communicating it without even realizing it? I think our insecurities can speak for us sometimes...
    Hugs from a new 'commentathon' reader, Angela :)

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  4. First, I love your husband reply. Anywho, I was a stay at home mom when my daughters were young and it wasn't my children that didn't get it, it was others. They had no idea just how hard I worked while being home with two small children that were 19 mths apart. It was like having twins. I just had to say I will not allow the opinions of others determine my worth and value as a stay at home mom. Now that they are out of the nest, I miss watching grow and develop. I realized had I worked outside of the home, I would've missed a lot.

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  5. You are ahead of me in the world of parenting. My 8,6, and 3 year old love that I stay home, drive on field trips, help in their classrooms, and run them all over the place. My children think their Dad sits in his office all day while Mom runs around shopping, playing, and helping with homework.

    This arrangement works for our family, and I love investing in my family. Hope your daughter sees past the paycheck at your investment of time into your family's life.

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  6. You know, I think this is a tough subject especially when your own children are looking at it from a different perspective than you are. I've thought about this myself many times and even though my children aren't old enough to know and understand what's going on, other people do. There are times when my label as a stay-at-home is either frowned upon or laughed at. I would encourage you to keep doing what you love, and show your children that what you do is just as important as your husband working. God bless you.

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  7. Being a stay at home mom is a tough job! Some just don't realize how much it really takes to run a household! But there is always ups with the downs right? Someday she will really get just how hard you work to keeping everyone afloat (whether you bring in money or not)! Just keeping on doing what your doing cause it's one of the best jobs!

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  8. I feel your pain. I do. My career defined me for such a long time, and I loved it. And I missed so much of our oldest son's childhood. When we had our daughter, though, I decided to give up my full-time career and stay home, freelancing whenever I had a moment (which was usually in the middle of the night). Now, both of the younger kids are in school full-time, and I'm trying to restart my writing career on my terms, since I basically gave it up for a few years. Our youngest son recently said, "Mommy doesn't work, she just stays home all day." It killed me. Seriously. I know he didn't mean anything by it, but I took it so personally. He's 8. But that's what he sees, in his egocentric little boy brain. Recently, he had a school project about pirates, and I told him I had a magazine article he could read. I gave it to him, and he saw my byline on it, and he was in awe. It's good for the kids to know that we have talents and abilities beyond making dinner and driving carpool, and between his comment and his surprise that I wrote for magazines, it made me more determined to rejuvenate my writing career. Hang in there. You know what you do is of value, and one day your daughter will appreciate it.

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  9. I think all kids go through this stage. After 4 of my own, I call it the "take Mom for grated" stage. So by the time my youngest son came along, I wised up. I stopped doing for him. Yup, stopped washing his clothes, stopped cleaning up after him, stopped making him food, STOPPED! I stopped in the Winter of his 15th year, and by the time the school year ended, my son knew how to do his laundry, make himself something to eat, and clean his room. Oh, and I even got a thank you every now and again when I did do something for him. Unfortunately, he is the only one - wish I had figured it out much sooner and about 3 kids earlier!

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  10. I don't know what to say to this.. I work outside home..both me and my husband.. One of our kids go to school and my in-laws watch the other one.. The choices we make are made with best intentions.. Its okay to be wrong, because that is the only way you are able to make right choices eventually. Working outside or work at home-each has its own merits... Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us :)

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  11. I've been on all sides of this equation. I used to be the breadwinner, had the corner office, SR VP, but I gave all that up and dropped out of the rat race so my husband and I could travel the world with our kids. Suddenly I went from working mom to stay at home (or stay on the boat) mom. When we returned to the US four years later, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, I just knew I didn't want to go back to the corporate world. I wanted to write a book, but felt so guilty not working. One day my daughter said, "Mom, why don't you get your old job back?" At first I was hurt, then I took a deep breath. It was actually a great question and one I needed to say out loud. "Because, it has always been my dream to write a book, and I need to see that through." That one moment was so defining. I heard myself say the words, and she heard it too. Our kids are mirrors for what is going on in our life. If you feel strong in your convictions, your daughter will feel that.

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  12. Dh used to make comments dismissing my contributions. In fact we rarely argue, but nearly all of our worst arguments have been around this very issue. Now I'm working and he is home with munchkin and he understands a whole lot more. Totally agree with Things In My Head. The more they have to do for themselves, the more they realize it *is* work.

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  13. Please remember that your daughter is only 15. She has yet to understand how hard moms work. As long as she does not turn into an adult, saying these hurtful comments to SAHM then I think this comment can be forgotten. It's the moms that put down other moms that I can't understand. Your daughter may not be aware of how hard you work for her, but trust me, she will long for your work once she is away at college and on her own.

    Elizabeth
    PINKx3.com

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  14. I understand your frustration. We always feel like we need to "stack up" in the family dynamics and money seems to be the golden ticket. You have to know that your contribution to the dynamics of the family is measureless. Perhaps your daughter really did mean GO to work... as in get in a car and GO. I know she's fifteen and can understand how it works, but perhaps she is grateful for the fact that you work, but you're still always around.

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  15. When she grows into a young lady, she will remember every single thing you have ever done and sacrificed for being a SAHM. Sometimes try not to let kids' comments get to your head, because most of what they say is totally not from the heart and often said out of rebelliousness. I have been a teen and behaved certain ways with my mother, but I remember I only said those to test her patience but never really meant it. Today, I understand every little thing she did and value her more than anything :) You are a wonderful mom who cares so much, she will forget abt it all trust me!

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  16. I have the same issue with my kids, though they're younger. I try to talk more about how my work provides for our "extras," the eating out, day trips, etc. and all our kids are aware of our family budget and we plan trips together. I had hoped that doing this year after year would help them see that my jobs (as a home mom and a work mom) contribute to them. Now you've got me worried!

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  17. It's a tough choice to make - stay at home, or go to work - both options can lead to your child guilt tripping you, or dismissing you. How do you deal with it? Not having children, I wouldn't know! But I wish you luck, and I hope your daughter is able to see and appreciate all that you have done for her!

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  18. I feel you. I was staying home (although as a student) to help my mother (who is working) with housekeeping and bringing up my 6 year old brother. Eventually I took on most of the responsibilities, taking care of the kid AND her. Doing everything instead of her (except bringing in money). I felt exhusted, but she took everything for granted. She even said that I could do much more because I have so much free time. And that I could finally find a work. It hurt! My post for this event is actually about it. :)

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  19. That's definitely a tough one. Sometimes my dear hubby doesn't think I'm "working". But he'll find out soon as I go away for a weekend Women's Retreat!

    Here's an idea for you with your daughter. When I was around 11 I must have made some kind of similar comment to my mom (I really don't remember why - but I remember the lesson!). So she had me shadow her and do all the things she did with her - both day and night. My siblings were little so that included middle of the night feedings. It was TOUGH - I can't remember how long I had to do this - but long enough!

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  20. Sometimes I think they will never understand until they are in my position! I'm a stay-at-home mom, too, and my children are now at school all day. I have struggled with going back to "work", but don't know what I could do. I don't want to go back to what I did before. And I certainly don't want a stressful job to add to my home stress. Also, who's gonna hire someone who hasn't worked for 11 years, and wants hours that work around their kids school schedules? I just started this blog and selling things on ebay to help contribute to the income. This has helped me to feel better about my "contributing" to the income, even though I really already was! Child care doesn't come cheap! She will understand one day!

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  21. Being a wife and a mommy is such hard work - a full time job with no days off. I agree with Crystal, sometimes we all need to take a walk in someone else's shoes.

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  22. I'm also a work at home mom and I've had my struggles. It's hard to change the common perception that when you work outside of the home you are contributing more purely due to the financial aspects. Just keep doing what you're doing. Sadly, it's probably when she has her own family or on her way to having her own family when she will realize the importance of your sacrifices for her and your family.

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  23. I don't have any kids when it comes to this topic, but I do feel that sometimes, my sweetie doesn't truly recognize the hard work I do as a freelance writer because I work online. Since I sit at the computer for hours on end, I think his brain doesn't separate work with online surfing. Also, I do a lot of research online, so if he happens to walk by and see something odd, I KNOW he doesn't think I'm working when I am in fact researching a topic because I get a lot of assignments that require me to write about anything and everything under the sun.

    So, just like your daughter's words took the wind out of you, my sweetie constantly knocks the wind out of me when he makes a comment like "You can do X,Y,Z....you have nothing better to do." Um...yes, I do - just because I don't have a 9-to-5 with a set schedule doesn't mean I'm not working full time. *scream*

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    1. Oh my gosh Yona! That would make me want to scream too! How can we educate this man on what you do so that he doesn't make such horrible comments to you? How about we have him look up a subject on a re-e-e-e-ally slow, old dial up computer, and give him a deadline of, say, 10 minutes. (If he doesn't complete the project his penalty is up to you ;-> )

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  24. Oufff... I feel your pain... The only thing I can think is that maybe she will never understand... or maybe she will, later... My oldest daughter gave me a very hard time during her teenage and now, as an adult and young mother, she recognizes what I have done for her, and the "whys", "how", etc... She doesn't judge me anymore! Good luck to you and, stand for what you really Believe :-)

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    1. Thank you Isabelle. You're right, she may never get it. It's more important that I get it and not let it make me so sad. I'll continue to stand :->

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  25. So true. I don't think they really get it until they are doing all that work on their own. Makes it much more real when you are responsible for laundry, cooking, shopping, cleaning, etc.

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  26. I'm reminded all the time, in multiple ways, how motherhood has changed my perception and value of my own mother. I understand now what I never realized as a younger girl. I understand the hard work, effort, and SACRIFICE a mother puts forth to stay home with her children. I think the same is true of your daughter (and of my own little girl one day)... the realization will come full-circle when she is caring for her own child. I can't tell you how many times I've thanked my mother for the role she played in my life, but my gratitude only surfaced upon gaining a deeper understanding of what it means to love.

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  27. Hard, hard stuff. My hubby and I are just the opposite situation. I go to work and he stays home with the six kids. Which of course is work, but we both feel the strain and conflict of our different roles. I want what he has, he wants me to help more. Hard, hard stuff.

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  28. Oh, my heart just sunk for you. These words are hard.

    My mom was a SAHM who do the bookkeeping for my dad's business. I remember her working with the big old checkbook and paper records strewn across the desk. I remember her doing laundry and dishes and vacuuming. But mostly, I remember that she was always there for me. She always had time for me, to play with me and teach me. I wanted the same for my kids. However, even as mommy to 3 little ones, it can be hard doing the same jobs repeatedly day-after-day with little to no thanks. And when I do try to squeeze in a little monetary work from home time, I often feel stressed and still inadequate with the pennies I bring in versus the nice income my husband provides for us.

    I just try to put it in prospective by telling myself that THIS is the work I need to be focused on now... being a mom. That is the most important thing in my life and no dollar amount could ever be placed on the days I get to spend with my kids (even if I have picked Cheerios off the floor for the 6th time today and have a pile of laundry as high as my 1-year old).

    Someday, when your daughter is in your shoes, she will realize how priceless the "work" is that you have provided for your family.

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  29. I am not a Mom but I do work from home and its not my family or by awesome boyfriend that says these things. It is his friends and his Mom. They make comments that hurt my feelings but I know what I do all day and I wish I was surfing the net or playing a game. My boyfriend always takes up for me and tells them that I am the one who pays for everything when he is layed off in the winters. It hurts less and less now. I just keep on moving and I know what I do all day and that is all that matters to me.

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  30. Ugh, I know the feeling. The guilt around this area has plagued me from the beginning. I was raised to value financial contribution as worth. No job is equal to an infidel I was told.

    I think since we are comfortable at home people don't see what moms do as work. However if you hire someone to do those things we definitely see that person as working...hmmm?

    The difference is the hired person is paid and earns money while mom just does it.

    Finding work at home jobs based on commission or per job orders is work. You might not get a paycheck every two weeks but you do get paid.

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  31. Wow. Well, I don't have any kids BUT, due to some unfortunate circumstances, my husband and I are staying with my mom. My husband is a freelance artist while working part time and I blog. When my mom would see my husband drawing or me on the computer, she thinks it's simply that. She wouldn't "get it" until we actually explained to her in full detail what it is that we do, repeatedly.

    It seems as though you've done that and I can tell you're probably exhausted after the numerous times you explained how it is that you contribute. It may just take her some time to realize it. Maybe once one facet of your contribution is missing (say...you don't wash her laundry for a week), she may start to get just how much of an important part of the household you are! Just an idea. :-) I hope it all works out for you.

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  32. My kids know I don't make a monetary income, but they also know that I have a full-time job: THEM. I homeschool my boys. I am their teacher. That doesn't change the inner desire to want to help out financially. So I'm starting to build my blog and work on my knitting patterns to sell. But I'll be happy if I make enough to keep my blog up and maybe buy my yarn too! :) No idea how to get your daughter to understand how much work you really do except maybe let her do it someday.

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  33. That's a tough one! I work from home part-time but the bulk of my time is spent taking care of my two small kids. I'm sure that I'll hear those dreaded words one day. Hopefully, I will have a response prepared that addresses what I bring to table and why my job is important too!

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  34. I am a stay at home mom. I have one little one that is 2 years old. I absolutely love being a stay at home mom. As long as you are finding joy in what you are doing, then you shouldn't feel bad! She's only 15. One day, when she is older and has a family, she will understand how many hats a mom wears!

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  35. Hugs, I have had my husband say that a couple times and it hurts. I am a work at home mom that also home educates 3 of our 4 children. My days never ends, I am on duty 24/7. Power went out last night and who stayed up til 2:30 to make sure all the clocks were properly set when the power came back on. Yes, mom. Those are the things that we do behind the scenes to make their lives comfortable. My husband hardly mentions what I don't do anymore because he has had to step up a few times when I went out of state without the kids for family matters. I would let her pick up some of the extra stuff you do for her. Just for a week, and hopefully like my husband, she will realize the work you do.

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  36. We all feel guilty - go to work and set a good example, miss every soccer practice, go to work in the corner office, show your kids what success looks like, work at a warehouse and your kids are embarrassed or your low status, let them see you work hard packing apples and they learn a work ethic or why they should go to college, stay home and they think you do nothing, work and they miss you.

    There is no right.

    Which means there is no wrong. Ever.

    But.... I got some good advice at Mom 2.0 - I wish I remembered the exact quote, but don't. They were talking about working too much, and traveling too much for work and conferences - and that, this is our way of showing our daughters that they can do anything. We never knew when we were young that jobs online existed - why? Because the INTERNET didn't exist yet. Our moms couldn't have taught us the ways of being our own boss online. So - we have the ability know to teach our daughters that the sky's the limit.... Any time you feel guilty, remember that we're teaching them a new life. And they're lucky to be on the front lines of it :)

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  37. What you do is SO important!! Trust me, some day your daughter will understand and thank you for it! (probably not until she has a home of her own though!!) Keep doing what you're doing and you will see the rewards down the road!

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