I’ve had this scene play out more times than I can remember….
I strike up a conversation at a park or play place with another adult, and the topic of conversation eventually leads to work.
“So, what do you do?” They ask.
“I’m a stay at home mom,” I say.
“Oh? ‘Must be nice to be able to live on one income.”
I usually just smile and nod because I’m talking to a stranger who doesn’t need to know my whole life story, and the truth is, it IS nice to get to stay home with my kids. It IS a privilege to have this time with them, and I think that’s what they meant to say. Because one thing that’s really not so nice is living on one income. You see, I’m a stay at home mom, but we aren’t rich.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband works hard to provide for our family. We are blessed more than many, and I am in no way complaining about our financial situation. We know where our next meal is coming from, our bills are always paid, and we are homeowners with a nice and sturdy (albeit 50 year old) roof over our heads. We even have a little in savings. We have all of what we need and some of what we want, but it is not at all by accident or some fun and fancy free lifestyle.
When you see my child in a boutique outfit, it’s because I found it on sale in a consignment store, or it was gifted to us.
When you see my posts about our fun outings, it’s because I am always on the lookout for free family activities and because we ask for family passes to the zoo or museum for Christmas.
When you see us eating at a nice restaurant, it’s probably somebody’s birthday (and I’m probably drinking water).
When you see me browsing with the kids at Target, more times than not, I will be leaving the store with not much more than popcorn crumbs in my diaper bag and an item or two from the dollar section.
When you see me out for ice cream with the kids by myself in the evenings, it’s because my husband is working late to bill more hours, and I just haaaaad to get out of the house.
When you see our Pinterest style birthday parties or Halloween costumes, it’s because I have been shopping fabric sales, planning for months, and it’s all DIY (Don’t knock it- I LOVE being crafty).
Our children are small, so they don’t care one bit about where their clothes and toys come from, and I’m fine with teaching them to stretch their dollars. My daughter loves to hit up JBF and Once Upon a Child, and she is the best sidekick when I’m shopping garage sales! By the time they are school aged, I’ll be headed back to work and our financial situation will be different (though I’m planning to teach, so it won’t be by much), but for now, this is what works for us. I am in no way insinuating that moms who choose to work value some dreamy lavish lifestyle over their children or that they all have it made in the shade. I also know that not all moms who stay home have to pinch pennies.
The truth is, no one has any idea about all of the thoughts and factors that go in to making the decision to work or stay home, and by no means am I implying that one choice is better than the other. I can only speak for what works for me and my family. Being a stay at home mom has always been my dream job, and even on the hardest days- when my bosses are cranky and demanding- I know that this is the sweetest part of my life. So, yes…it’s nice. Nicer than I ever imagined.