Sometimes it seems like work-at-home moms (often known by the hideous acronym WAHMs) have two jobs: the one that pays the bills, and the one where they spend hours convincing ignorant ding-dongs that working at home is not some sort of leisurely stroll to Relaxing Town.
Please, do us working moms a favour and refrain from saying any of the below comments things again. Because while we’d love to spend the time schooling you on why all your assumptions are wrong, we, you know, have work to do.
1. ‘Oooooooh, I wish my job was that easy’
Um, I woke up at 5am, worked for two hours, fed two children, got them dressed and brushed for school, helped them make their beds, made my own bed, fed myself, put on clothes, and then went back to work for eight hours, picked up my kids, made dinner, tossed them in the bath, yelled a little, read two books and sang a variety of lullabies in key, and am now back on the couch to work for two more hours. Like you said: easy!
2. ‘It must be so nice to wear your pyjamas all day’
The best part about this line is that it’s always said directly to our faces by someone who could very easily look down and see that, nope, we’re not in pyjamas!
Here’s a startling fact about moms who work from home: we too love changing into clean clothes at the start of the day, just like any other human being. I’m not sure how you expect WAHMs to dress, but just because our desks might be next to the couch does not mean our outfits are of the ‘calling in sick to work after a breakup, and I’m eating all the microwave popcorn and watching reruns of Friends until I fall back asleep’ variety.
3. ‘But what do you do all day?’
Um. [Blinks; sharpens knife.] We’re called work-at-home moms because we … never mind.
4. ‘I couldn’t stand not talking to adults all day’
Allow me to blow your mind: This thing called the internet allows us to have face-to-face conversations with adults whenever we want. A lot of moms who work from home are on endless conference calls, Skype chats, and even travel to meetings where they engage with — da da da daaaaa — real, live grown-ups! Also, we have these things called “friends” who we see outside of work. You should try ’em sometime.
5. ‘I wish I could just hang out at home all day or go get a manicure whenever I feel like it’
[Gazes down at fingernails that look like they have not been manicured since that acrylic French manicure situation for matric in 1997.] I hate to burst your bubble, but I work more from home than I ever did in an office, because home is my office. And to make matters worse, I don’t have any sweet bowls or coffee machines to walk to for a break. It’s just me and my work, all damn day long.
6. ‘Can I stop by?’
Hello, dear friend whom I love aside from this one brief moment of ignorance. Were I working in an office cubicle the colour of a storm cloud, would you ‘stop by’ in the middle of the day, just to sit around for an hour talking about that dude from Tinder you went on three dates with and still can’t figure out if he’s creepy? No. No you would not. Please remember this educational chat before you SMS me at 2pm on a Tuesday asking for some hangout time.
7a. ‘How do you get any work done with your kids around you all the time?’
*Blasts Katy Perry’s By the Grace of God.*
7b. ‘No, seriously’
Seriously? You wake up at 5am. You type emails while breastfeeding. You let your spouse handle bedtime so you can meet your deadline. You work weekends. You bring your laptop to dance lessons and soccer practice, you drag it to the dining room table while peanut butter sandwiches are being housed all around you. You scream ‘SHUT THE F*CK UP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!’ and then five minutes later say, ‘I’m sorry I said a bad word, guys,’ and turn on Frozen. Or you hire a nanny.
8. ‘Wait, why do you send your kids to daycare/have a nanny if you work from home?’
Let’s play a game. Tomorrow I shall send a pack of lemurs to your office. You must calmly go about your workday and focus on all your tasks, accomplishing everything on your to-do list as they screech and frolic around you. Your prize if you win? A migraine. Good luck!
9. ‘Why don’t you just not work? You probably don’t make that much money, right?’
The assumption that I don’t make bank just because my work schedule is non-traditional and my office is my dining room table is misguided and wrong. (And dare I say just a liiiiiiitle bit sexist?) You don’t need to wear a suit, and shuffle to and from an office building to make big money. And how about the simple fact that, oh, I dunno, I enjoy working? That’s enough, whether it pays me a R1 or R100,000.
My fellow WAHMs: if someone says this to you, simply repeat, ‘Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper’ five times, click your heels, and they’ll disappear.
10. ‘Don’t you miss having a career?’
What about the work in ‘work at home’ don’t you understand? If anything, working from home can be the thing that helps a career to grow. Some stay-at-home moms begin working again at home, some moms who worked in an office switch to working from home. Some do it for the convenience, for necessity, to save money, to be close to their kids, or because it’s the only place they can do their job. All are actively in charge of their work and lives. Isn’t that the definition of having a career?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com.