Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Five Things NOT To Say...

We've identified our Domestic Enemies...and we're still finding more. From laundromats to ice cream trucks to critters and nosy neighbors and school, we know what adversaries we face, no matter which kind of mom we are. But we've discovered a wolf in sheep's clothing in our midst. A Seacrest among the Keeblers. And that is the dreaded Unedited Thought. That's right...those words that spill out of some Nosy Nellie's mouth before their brain has a chance to intercede and make them inhale a bug or something.

Lydia went from being a Working Mom to a Stay-at-Home Mom. Kate has been both as well, but has discovered over her twent[achoo!] years of working that a) the questions and comments never change; and b) they're all laced with this sticky sweetness that makes it seem like the person is actually concerned or interested, but really it's just to attract all the stingy hornet things that will stab you in the heart later. And, as a current working mom, Kate has heard a few statements and questions over the past twelve years that have made her either want to rock back and forth in the fetal position, or smack someone so hard that they find that their own tongue has suddenly appeared in the palm of their hand

1. What is it that you do?
This can be totally innocent, or all stabby. The first is like "oh, what do you do?" and we say things like secretary or rocket scientist or ditch digger. The second one really means "what possible thing can be so freakin' important that you'd leave your kids?" Well, let's see...for most working moms, the answer has something to do with food and roofs and college and stuff like that. For Kate, sometimes it's really just a chance to get away from a band of crazy rabid howler monkeys who've somehow gotten into her house and apparently have all the common sense of a sack of hammers. When I've gotten the nice version, I've wound up having some really cool chats with people. When I've gotten the stabby version, I usually just tell them I'm a hooker.

2. What do you do with your kids all day?
Hmmm...Let's see. I *used* to keep them in the garage with a giant bag of Cheetos. Then someone said that was illegal or something. Are you kidding me? Ready for a peek behind the curtains?
We get up at the ass crack of dawn to shower, make lunches, make breakfast, throw in laundry, tidy the house, get kids up, get kids fed, get kids dressed, get kids to stop trying to mangle each other, get kids brushed and brushed, find shoes, find our own shoes, remember the keys before we lock the door, accidentally teach them a bad word, inadvertently teach them how to break into our own home, discover the keys were actually in our pocket, teach them another bad word, and then get them to school, the babysitter, the nanny, our mother's house, the neighbors or the bus. THEN, we do the work thing. Are you tired yet? Because ten hours from now, we'll do it all in reverse. Starting with our car. You might wanna move. Quickly. But first we have to find our keys.

3. Oh, I can't imagine someone else raising my children....
Can I confess how many times I've heard this? LOADS! Who says this? I'm always tempted to say things like, "It's actually awesome. Dora teaches them Spanish from nine to ten every morning, then they have virtual hide and seek with Blue, critical thinking with Shaggy and Scooby, a little Pre-Law with Judge Judy at noon, followed by Oprah's Life Lessons and then some SportsCenter so they can be entertaining at parties. What? You're doing all that stuff? Whoa." And then someday my kid will say something fantastic like, " 1917,Albert Einstein established the theoretic foundation for the laser in his paper Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung..." and I'll get to be all "haha...did your kid watch the Big Bang Theory? Mine did. Kate for the win!" and then celebrate that a theoretical physicist is "raising" my kid. Booyah.

4. It must be hard on them to never see you...

Best part about this one? Invariably, and ironically, it's always said in front of my children. When McGee was little, and I was Full-On, All-the-Time Working Mommy, I got this for the very first time. It was like getting punched in the throat.And all that guilt and regret and stomach-y pit-y-ness and the why do I not have a witty yet scathing comeback here? hit all at once. It's a *nice* feeling. It's what I imagine a bikini wax from the Kracken would feel like. And then McGee furrowed up her little face and was like, "Uh, I can see her. She's right here. You don't see her?" and then announced to everyone that I was invisible.

5. So then, you can't volunteer?

That's nice. It's like a Jewish Mother and a Catholic Priest all at the same time. We'd LOVE to volunteer. We're not saying no so we can go get a mani/pedi and Selfy Steam. We're saying no because, as much as we desperately want to, we simply can not be at the school. Tell you what, we'll volunteer for that job that entails sending out the forty thousand emails every school year about fundraisers and Box Tops and pizza parties and field trips...if there's something working moms can do, it's fly their fingers so fast across their computer or blackberry that we've been known to make a few of them cry.

Until then, we'll be at work. Invisible hookers are few and far between. Oh, that was gross, wasn't it?

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. #2 is my favorite. What do I do with them? Well, I do the basic maintenance - food, potty, clothing, cleaning - then I turn them loose with that bag of Cheetos. Sometimes the day is so full of maintenance that they never get loose.

  2. My favorite was from the lactation consultant I contacted when my little one and I gave up nursing, looking to donate my (very expensive, barely used) pump to someone who could switch out the tubing & get some use. The consultant wished me well in my new job, and said "I hope it's worth it."

    I went ballistic via email. "No, this job isn't 'worth it.' And the new state we're living it? Definitely not 'worth it.' But the career I'll have in 20 years, when my kids - who WILL still love me - have left me? That will be worth it."

    Deep breath. It was two years ago, my little girl is fine, she & her big brother cheer me like a rock star every day when I come home, I've got a nice cup of coffee, and a day of interesting work ahead of me.

  3. Just when I think it can't get any better, BAM! there ya go!
    LOVE this post. I'm a Mom that works from home. Not full time, not really even part time. Flex time is what I call it. Flex it between client requirements and everything else called life. I love the Q's cuz I get # 1,2 & 5. Mine are school aged now, so it's getting easier, but my clients don't go away for the summer. Q's that are really none'ya (my daughter's fav answer - None'ya bizzzness) are always around. Y'all rock!

  4. Stay at home moms get the same kind of crap with just a slight twist. I went to a reunion at my high school and got comments like "Wow, you're really wasting your expensive education, aren't you?"

    There's no way to win. No way at all. People are just- am I allowed to swear here? Jerks.

  5. This is so relatable! My most recent Nosy Nancy said to me at church, "So, you sit at home with your kids and do nothing. Sounds like the perfect job!". Really has to fight the urge to tell her,"no, I hook on the side after my husband gets home from work I hit the local street corners".

  6. I would actually like to hear someone ask #1, but too often the stay home moms don't even consider taking an interest in what it is I do 6.5 hours every day, what I went to college for what felt like a jillion years to do. It is truly frustrating. It is made worse when they ask what my husband does. Talk about being stabby!!

  7. Love this. Lets me know I'm not the only one experiencing these things and that I'm not completely crazy.

  8. Um, yes. Thank you so much for saying all that every working Mom would like to say! I am a much better mother for two hours in the evening than I would be all day daughter and I are too much alike to spend all day together. And her private school is teaching her roughly as much as Dora, without the grating voice and the trashing my house. But no fear...we still get our fill of Nick Jr and Disney in the mornings and on the weekend!

  9. AWESOME! esp. #2. I've been lucky in that I have rarely been asked #3 and #4. I don't think I've ever been asked #5 but I still feel bad about not being able to volunteer more at our small Catholic school.

  10. I love when I get those comments from the parents of children who go to the school where I (and a whole team of wonderful MOMS) teach. Ummmm....well if we all stayed home who would provide you with free babysitting while you went out to the gym and tanning. (which in my community is something a LOT of the moms do....some of them show up in their workout clothes under their fur coats)

    My stay at home friend once made the comment (and I emphasize ONCE) that it must be nice to be able to walk into Kohls and buy something off the rack. She is a huge garage sale and good will girl....something that I love for the eight weeks I am off. I pointed out it must be nice to have time to go to the garage sales and goodwill at 8am kid free to get all the good stuff.....we just don't talk about it any more. Some topics are too work status, religion, and politics.....haha

  11. This is one of the best Blogs I've ever read. I just started following you and I can't miss a day now. Thank you for your witty banter and tell-it-like-it-is approach to being a mother. I've been both a stay at home mom and now, a working mom. And neither are easy! I love your blog.

  12. I had a friend who was a SAHM and he fessed up recently, she never quite understood why I was always so tired... Until she started working.

    My response to snarkiness is always "whatever works for mom, works for the family."

  13. This is so unbelievable true! I have heard every single one of these. #2 - My co-worker asks a variation of this at least 3 times a week. She's always like "Are the kids at the sitter today?" One day I want to be like, "Oh, no. I figured the are old enough to stay by themselves by this point. Well, the infant isn't, but my 19 month old can watch her."

    #3 - Yeah, this one pisses me off. I am not letting someone else raise my kids, but thanks. Because last time I checked, raising kids does not MAKE you money, it costs you money. That is the big and defining difference.

  14. Oh and they forgot one: when I'm out and about in the evening with other adults, most of whom also have children, don't come up to me all sickly sweet and ask, "Where's the baby?" Why is it that no one asks the married parents that question? My mother's friends always do this to me. Then, they turn and talk to the couples about how good it is for them to get out without the kids. I'm sure that is more of a domestic enemy of single moms, but since it is a question, I thought I'd comment.

  15. Shoot, I got #1 before I ever had kids. I was at a party with hubby at an artist enclave full self-important types. When this one chick asked me #1, I responded with my job - an admin asst at the time - and then she repeated the question with emphasis on "do". Apparently, paying bills and keeping us in house and food while hubby and I started a business (yep I worked on that at night) wasn't good enough. Just goes to show a douche is a douche is a douche, regardless of one's situation.

  16. When my daughters were little, I would get #3 & #4 a lot. You almost get to the point where your hand starts to twitch involuntarily to strike.

    Don't get me started on the little old lady who decided to launch into working moms during the adult Sunday School class we were at a few years ago. I saw the pastor watching me as she rambled on - he laughed when I told him later that laying into an old lady in church was not an option. However, if looks could kill...

  17. I got these questions while I was in business school all.the.time! My first (of 3 now) was 3 years old. #2 came most frequently, my husband was a stay at home dad which gave the stabby-question-askers some sense of relief. I mean, really?! Why would I POSSIBLY want to better myself?! Selfish wench that I am....and if he had a job then I wouldn't be allowed to be here?....I went ahead and had a kid DURING business school...some of those girls are moms now and they BOW DOWN to my awesomeness....

  18. "A Seacrest among the Keeblers" - bwahahaha!

  19. Great post! I have been both a SAHM and a WM. If I had to choose which one I would prefer now that I have done both. It would be a SAHM. Sure, my job pays for the things we need, but has never been as rewarding as the relationship with my kids. Mine are almost gone now and off on their own but I wouldn't mind still being home with them.

  20. Perfect! All five apply to me! I just went back full time with 3 kids.
    With all the stabby comments I get, I may as well be beating my children. People are SO rude..."How do you even afford this arrangment?" Because I am a hooker. "Is this even all worth it?" Yes, I like when my kids eat. "Well, at least you get your hair cut/done" Yup, on my lunch, so I dont' miss any more time with my kids. "But you have money" Imagine? My post secondary education doing something. The list goes on...Both "jobs" have their moments, trust me, I know first hand but now that I have done both, for me being a working mom is alot harder...I still have to do all the same things a SAHM does (minus the school run)But the cooking, cleaning, lunches, laundry, homework, lessons, bathing ALL still has to get done, only now because I work 40 hours a week I have WAY less time to do it all. So basically I am a SAHM who works a second job.
    When Mommy is happy, everyone is happy. And I am a better mom for working, but it still stings when people comment.

  21. Yeah I used to get all of that. Now that I'm an RN for some reason people think that its "OK" for me to work, but when I was a secretary and going to school it was like I was leaving my kid tied to his crib and just didn't "love him enough" to stay home.

    People are dumb.

  22. Like Lydia, I was a "work outside the home mom", but have been blessed to be able to stay home for the last 11 years. I got guilt from people when my daughter went to daycare.... after a while I got a thick(er) skin and didn't let it get to me. Now, I get all sort of crap because we have decided to homeschool our kids. The horror! I've learned to just let it roll of my back.

  23. This actually gave me flashbacks. I was the only female in the shop (an E5, yay me!) but a single momma also. Who's got your kids? Why can't your ex take him, he's stationed here too? It's good that you're working so you can support your child, to bad he never sees you.

    I got remarried to a civilian, and we found out I was pregnant, so I rode the pregnancy out of the military. I didn't want to go overseas on a 'desert vacation.' (<--sarcasm)

    Then I got all the douche bag comments for being a stay at home mom, nobody could understand why i didn't want to go to work at the airport on planes (basic body work on planes, and men scare me) and I was completely content doing what i was doing.

    number 4 arrived. the patch didn't work. we moved, i got a job and signed up for school. you're right, the questions comments never change. i felt like a broken record who HAD to be nice.

    i'm glad the God blessed you with McGee. how did you NOT laugh when she said that? that's what i wanna know.

    you girls always make my day! thank you!!!

  24. #2 describes my mornings to a T! I am so excited to finally get to work and only worry about me for a change!

  25. LOVE THIS. I work FT and I get that sh*t all the time. #2 is totally my morning, every morning. And the "someone else raising my kid" makes me totally STABBY.

  26. I seriously love you girls. I look forward to reading your entries each day. Please don't ever quit this job!!!!! :D

    As a teacher, I get to be both a working mom and then a SAHM over the summer. People are stabby regardless of your work status. Why do people have to suck so much? Being a mom is the hardest job you'll ever have. Can't we all recognize that and support each other? I have no use for such Judgey McJudgersons in my life.

    In the meanwhile, just 2 more days left of this school year. I better stock up on my bon bons for the summer! ;)

  27. A better one would be when you are the stay-at-home mom, and somebody looks/talks at you like you're something slightly less than human because you don't have a "real job".

    For example, when my munchkins were much younger, I was shopping around for a better deal on car insurance. I went to an agent for well-known, national insurance company. As part of the standard application, he asked me what my job title was.

    "Stay-at-home Mom", was my reply.

    To which he responded, "That's it? You're not a part-time student or something?"

    Seriously? I work full-time ... AT HOME!

  28. "3. Oh, I can't imagine someone else raising my children..."

    This one was said to me by my own mother-in-law. On the day before I went back to work for the first time. It's like a giant hug.

    (Heh. My word verification was "mistesti." Oh, you better believe it, buddy.)

  29. I do them both, manage to work at school, and outside of school, but am mostly home with my kids. Why is it that being the best mother to your kids has to be according to someone else's standard? It is bad enough that society looks down on us "moms" as if we couldn't get real one else needs to tell me what is best for my kids. Sure, I put my kids first, I worry about what I will do when they are gone, and how I will pay the bills if something happens to my hubby, but right now, I will enjoy every minute! (we all should! we are DAMN good at what we do, however we do it!)

  30. Recently my doctor asked me "who takes care of my little guy" and I replied real snarky....oh he is in a crate at the house..........what he was really asking was who was my little guys doctor. DUH, so while I hear the dumb questions all the time, be weary of who might be asking because I felt like a real turd after that.
    Also, I have a friend who stays home and every.single.time I talk to her she tells me how she has no idea how I do it, working full time and commuting 1 hour each way. I do it because I have to and because I need to. I do however believe I am not cut out to be a SAHM but I NEVER make comments about how what she is doing seems tough to me, it is just so darn condescending. Being different, isn't that what makes the world go around, if we were all the same, how boring would that be. Would we all be wearning pajama jeans?
    Thanks for yet another great post, love you blog, read it everyday.....that is once I get to work and have some time to myself

  31. No no no, it's not's Bazzinga!

  32. I am a single mom (with a Very helpful boyfriend, but still full-custody/no-child-support SINGLE.) I just went back to school full-time, after being at home with my autistic son for almost two years... And basically everyone has a problem with Something I'm doing, all of the time. Staying home with him on a medical exemption to focus on his therapy made me a dreaded welfare mom and a pimple on society's underbelly, BUT leaving him in a special-needs program at a good school to pursue a medical degree made me virtual ghost in his life. I obviously need to be able to make enough per hour to work just part-time and keep my focus at home, on his development, but that's DOWN THE ROAD, people! Why can't anyone see that I'm just trying to get to the next place in my life? That no situation exists simply because I thought it was ideal and decreed it so? Are they completely daft?

  33. I heart you guys.

    Also, my addition to the list came from someone who, just as I was going back to work from maternity leave, took a deep sigh and said, "If I had to do one thing over again, I would never, ever, ever take my kids to daycare. That was a huge mistake."


    Thanks a lot, jackhole. I can put some mayonnaise on that giant foot currently in your mouth, if you like. Or, you know, stab you with my fork. Whichever you prefer.

  34. I so feel this. I will never forget the conversation I had with my son's Kindergarten teacher when she "suggested" that we retain him. This conversation happened in MAY and she actually said that one of the problems was that because I am a working mom and didn't (COULDN'T) volunteer in the classroom, my son did not have the necessary respect for his education.
    ONE - it was KINDERGARTEN!
    TWO - I am a TEACHER!
    Needless to say we did NOT retain him, but found out 2 years later he has ADD. Thanks for the added guilt for NOTHING.
    Then she proceeded to tell me that the problem wasn't at school, so it must be at home....
    Said teacher announced that she is retiring 2 weeks ago. I keep singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" in my mind.

  35. I love you guys! You are all kinds of awesome sauce!!!
    Like Jolie, I am a work-from-home mom. But I'm also a single mom, and a former military spouse mom, so I guess I'm some bizarre hybrid mom! :P I want to give my undying kudos to y'all at Rants, and suggest a possible domestic enemies topic: DE of the single child mom. I actually heard it put forth once that mothers of only children (of which I am) Aren't. Really. Parents.
    If that's not a comment worthy of squaring up and punching someone in the neck, I don't know what is... It's fun that people assume since you only have one kiddo that something's wrong with you, or ask you when you're having the next one, etc. (Luckily that usually only comes from well-meaning strangers since I have very cool family and friends who would not dream of asking me that one.) Anyhoo!
    Thanks again for being the best mommy blog on the block!

  36. Shortly before my son was born I was asked what I would do when he was born. Well, given that the choices were either working or going on welfare (and losing my home, car . . . ), I said I'd go back to work. What would I do with my child? Well, I'd find a daycare for him. At this she sighed and said, "What a shame that there isn't a network of grandparent type people that he could spend his days with instead of going to daycare".
    Really? Its really better to have my child cycle from older person to older person - whose only qualifications are that they are of grandparenting age - than to spend their time in a loving, learning environment? Really?
    Anyways, love being reminded of the idiocies that we face! Thanks for the blog!

  37. Holy crap this is the funniest thing ever -- I soooo emphathize -- I have a law degree and worked as an attorney before my daughter came along -- the worst flack I get from my dad (who is also a lawyer), about how I am "wasting" my law degree, and wasting my mind,etc etc etc.


  38. um THANK YOU! I love it when my male co-workers (slightly higher ranking and at least 15 years older) tell me something about leaving it up to god and making sacrifices so that their wives could stay home. Good for have me to take care of your sh*t at the office and a wife to handle it at home.

  39. I have to say something that I have noticed and, yes, it is controversial, but I think it has a point. Did you ever see the nanny shows? where know-it-all nannies take over a household and get things under control? In every single episode I have watched, the mom was a 100% SAHM (by the way, I am a SAHM). And this is not to judge or criticize, but it goes to show that being with kids all day is not for everybody. Some people look born to be surrounded by kids. Others want to give it their best shot. And others go to work to keep their sanity so that they can give kids their best when they are with them. I am somewhere in between. I work from home and, with that excuse, pay for daycare for about 10 hours a week because I just couldn't deal with it 24/7 --or I would have been the next mom rescued by a nanny that probably never had kids.

    We are what we are, and we give them our best because we love them. That's the essence of it. And children get it.

    Amen ;-)

    1. Ana, you rock, Girl. Go on with your cool, smart self.
      No one could have said it better.
      The truth is the truth and it's all good!

  40. Before I started work, I often got #1 to which I learnt to reply "I'm a Domestic Engineer, and my second job is Officer for the Social, Emotional, Spiritual, and Physical Development of the next Generation, why, what do you do?" *insert sweet smile* I now also tell them that I work at the local supermarket in my spare time.

    And now to my answer I give to #2, just because I'm a funny bastard. "Oh, I just put up all the knives and matches and take the fuse out of the box so the babies can't electrocute themselves..."

    Haven't got #'s 3-5 yet, but I'm sure I'll come up with something suitably witty!

    Hope this helps you answer other people's infuriating questions with a smile! Love From Crazed In Aus!

  41. So I just recently started looking for a job after being a SAHM for the past 2 years. Oh, and I make bows and tutus to sell at local vendor shows. And I'm opening at Etsy shop. AND going to school full time. So when I get asked the question, "You haven't been in the workforce for 2 years, what have you been doing?" I get all twitchy and really want to just say I've kept 3 howler monkeys from killing other every murthurfurking day. What Have YOU been doing?

  42. I will become a working mom in September. After my year of maternity leave (we're in Canada) going back to work is going to be hard but yes, the college fund, roof over her head and food are what we need.

    The worst was when my SIL said "What's the point in having children if you're going to work". She also threw down the "I can't imagine someone else raising my children" card. I was ready to square up.

  43. Hate these stupid questions!!

    I get #2 and #3 all the time... And when the nosies ask, and I tell them that my husband and I work opposite shifts so that one of us is always at home with our sons (one is 27mo, one is 8mo), I inevitably get the "why, that means you never see eachother! Why even bother being married?!"

    Um... gee, let me see... WTF, folks?!

  44. Well, I guess I just figured out why working moms like me so much. When I ask #1 it's always with genuine interest & leads to great conversations.

    I never ask #2, #3 or #4! Unless, of course, they are putting down my SAHM choice. But, hey, they started it.

    And when it comes to #5 (since I am the room parent most years), I always say everyone does what they can (when they apologize for not coming in) and tell them that sending things is just as, if not more, important as being at the events.




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