One of my biggest pet peeves is when people try to justify my choice to stay at home.
"It's the hardest job in the world!"
Actually, I found that teaching English to apathetic sophomores was much harder. It would be harder, I think, to be a fireman on an oil field. Or to be a janitor at Union Station. Or to be the President. It would be much more difficult to be a work-outside-the-home mommy who supported her kids by slinging burgers. Or to be a stay-in-the-shelter mommy. Point being, it is not the hardest job in the world.
I have found that people say this as some sort of PC instinct to be supportive, while not actually having to do anything else.
Attention to these people: Please stop.
It was my choice, and it can be difficult at times, but you don't need to tell me that. (Especially Oprah. Don't try to get rid of your non-parent guilt by telling the audience that it is just too hard a job for you. )
If you want to be helpful, how about trying to help? For example:
The other day I received a notice that a package was ready for me to pick up at the post office. Normally, I would put this off, because I would rather teach Sophomore English than go to the post office with Jooj, but it was her birthday, and I was hoping that someone had sent her some cash. (For me.)
So I loaded up, drove, unloaded, and realized that I had left the stroller at home. Frick.
Holding her hand, I carted Jooj into the post office, and stood in the package retrieval line (which is always at least fifteen minutes long.)
The people behind me watched me wrestle with her, restrain her, run after her, discipline her, and finally retrieve a large package along with her.
As I turned to go, the gentleman waiting behind me said "It's the hardest job in the world."
As I turned onto my street ten minutes later, I noticed that the mailman was delivering the mail, and so pulled over. (I have a pretty cordial relationship with our mail carrier, being that, according to him, I get more catalogs than anyone in El Paso. So he knows me and my mail.) He handed me another package for the Jooj, and I mentioned to him that I had just been to the post office to get a package and he said "What? I am so sorry! I was off on Monday and had a substitute. The bare minimum we are required to do is leave you a note. I know that you have a toddler--I would have just brought it to you door and left it there. It can't be easy to go to the post office with her!"
It's-the-hardest-job-in-the-worlders: Do you see the difference? Do you see how one is not helpful, and kind of insulting, while the other scenario was thoughtful and proved to me that motherhood was valued by this gentleman? Don't feel comfortable being that "involved?" That's okay, too. Here are some other ways that you can put your money where your foot was:
Smiling at a kid while his mom writes a check at the grocery store.
Keeping your grumbling to yourself when a mother of three boys is unable to make them sit perfectly still at the Chick Fil A.
Emailing your representatives in support of issues that will help mothers to better take care of their children
Holding open a door for a woman with a stroller
Turning down your car stereo when the song has profanity and your windows are down
These are just suggestions. You don't have to do anything at all. Just please stop trying to make me feel better about my choices to be a mom and be at home; I have already made peace with them.