Oh, you don’t work?

Holy heckers woman! Of course I work. I work my fingers to the bone day in day out. What’s that? Right, I don’t do paid work. So that invalidates everything I do? Soon I shall start being paid for my writing. But apparently that matters little around here. Writing shmiting – unless you are published in Binah or Mishpacha it doesn’t count, and I have set my sights higher than that.

Yes, I am a mom. A full time stay at home mom. Is it a choice? Well, sort of. See I was working, until, due to the terrible economy, I lost my job the week before our marriage. I didn’t seek another because we thought it would be only a couple of months until we moved. Little did I know that I would be stuck here this long. For most of my kids’ lives though, I have been a stay at home mother. It was only last autumn that I decided to get out and work a little for my own sanity, since all the kids were then in school for a full day. It just increased the amount of stuff on my plate.

I am married, but to most intents and purposes, while I am up here, I am still a single mom. Therefore all the childcare, housework, bill paying, grocery shopping etc falls squarely on my more-than-capable shoulders. Each day is a flurry of activity from the time I wake up till the time I drop into bed exhausted at night. Plus I write in my “free” time. I make the time to do it because I enjoy it. Does that make me a WAHM mom even though it isn’t paid work?

Moms do not get enough respect. Single moms get even less. We work damn hard day in day out to make sure our kids are well taken care of. Yes, if I went out to work we would have more disposable income so I could hire a cleaning lady if I wanted to or buy the shoes I lust after. But when I was working, I found the time I was home, I was so busy taking care of everything in the house, and groceries etc, that I didn’t seem to have as much time for the kids as I wanted to have. Were they neglected? Absolutely not. I worked 25 hours a week, with a 90 minute commute total each day. Then I had all the shopping to do, the groceries, the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking etc. Homework and fun time with the kids was a must, a priority – but by the time they went to bed, I was exhausted, this was no way to live. Then throw in long distance dating and organizing a wedding and a kid with a broken ankle – my plate was overloaded. Just as well I was let go.

Life is a little quieter these days, but my plate is still full. Kids still need to be fed and clothed and bathed and homeworked and nurtured and loved and disciplined and fed again. I write every day. One day I will finish my book and start on the next. I am still on the road a lot. It will only get crazier once we get the notification of when we can move. Then I have to add packing to the list – but that will be an awesome addition.

So yes, madam, I work. Shove that in yer pipe and smoke it!

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  1. Noah Roth says:

    When inquiring as to the profession of a married women, I typically ask “Do you work outside of the home.”

    Seems to keep everyone happy.

  2. Chanief says:

    You are SO right Hadassah.

  3. tesyaa says:

    When my husband is curious about the occupation of a female with children, he asks, “Do you work outside the home?”

  4. tesyaa says:

    Well, my husband doesn’t blog, otherwise I’d think he was taking the pen name Noah Roth!

  5. lol — poor you, Hadassah, that people give you such a hard time so much of the time! I tried being a SAHM when my eldest was born and I *hated* it–”working” outside the home is an escape for me, so I have total respect for anyone who can manage being home FT and not be a total lunatic. Kudos to you!

  6. newbie says:

    most men I see haven’t quite worked out the best way to ask that question and just get all tongue-tied and embarrassed – it’s actually quite comical.

  7. Vicki says:

    To me, the “Do you work outside the home?” question is offensive because it’s assuming that a woman’s primary job is washing dishes that, possibly, she could have another job. I would definitely be offended if asked that.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      you know I never thought of it that way before….

    • Chanief says:

      Interesting. I never thought of it that way either, I always thought that the person was giving a nod of respect to all of the work that is done at home (acknowledging that it IS work.)

      • newbie says:

        but it’s tough, isn’t it? How should the question be phrased? What about the good old “What do you do?”? Is that worse than “Do you work outside the home?”? These days, saying “I’m a SAHM” is totally acceptable and nuff said. It’s also a positive response (“I am a…”) rather than a negative one (er…no… I don’t). So I think “What do you do?” might even be better. I agree with the person that said to hell with what other people think. If you can afford not to work (outside the home)and feel happy/fulfilled etc then surely that’s the most important job, and I know from personal experience that having a job does impinge on kid-time and makes mummy busier and pushed for time, as Hadassah said. On the other hand if it makes her more fulfilled and overall a happier person then that can certainly outweigh the disadvantages of the drop in kid-time.

  8. G6 says:

    I work outside the home but if I could swing it without the extra income, I wouldn’t.
    When I meet I see people as I’m making my way home for the day and they ask me where I’m headed, I always tell them, I’m headed for my more difficult job. When I get home at the end of the day, that’s when the real work< begins!

  9. Comment says:

    My only question is, how do you survive. KoD must be some rich dude to be able to maintain 2 homes. Good catch.

    • Noah Roth says:

      I’m gonna climb out on a ledge here and say it’s probably somewhere in between “really tough” and “downright impossible,” and will end just as soon as hadassah and the kids get their US visas.

      Either you are someone who knows Hadassah and how to push her buttons (And can apologize in person later), or that was a truly thoughtless, tactless, odd, mean-spirited comment.

      I don’t know which I hope it is, because they are both bad.

    • Duvii says:

      KoD is great dude and I think he is second to only me as a catch :-).

    • Lady Lock and Load says:

      What is it your business how she manages financially? What kind of question is that? Do you ask everyone you know how they survive financially? I find your comment very inappropriate.
      You bet KoD is rich…rich with radiant happiness that he is married to an awesome woman.
      Your comment makes me wonder if you are a little jealous….sorry, but that is how you come across.

    • Comment says:

      It was neither mean spirited nor thoughtless – just facts. How does a woman without any means of income on her survive and keep 4 children fed and clothed. I am sure there are plenty of individuals who would love to know how it can be done.

      • KoD says:

        Comment
        It’s none of your business how we manage our finances. So, kindly back off!!!

      • hadassahsabo says:

        Comment, if you are willing to contribute to make our lives sweeter and more financially sound, we will be more than happy to take your donation. Otherwise it is not your business.

        You and I both know who you are. Let’s leave it at that….

        • Lady Lock and Load says:

          Hadassah, is there any way you can block this “comment” moron from your blog? He or she is just repeating him/herself. Get a life!

          • Lady Lock and Load says:

            Sorry Hadassah I was getting mad. Shouldn’t allow this rectile orrafice to get me angry. He or she is a nebach and probably should be pittied.

      • MeiraD says:

        Well Comment–so brave that you aren’t using your name,

        Hadassah DOES manage to keep 4 children fed and clothed AND loved. So please, tell us what do you do that has any merit??

        I bet you have green eyes to match your envy. Lost opportunities are a bitch, no?

  10. amhausman says:

    Hadassah, even when you do get published paid work, let me tell you, people will either snub their noses at it (like you said, I love when I tell Jews I got published in Latina magazine–er, what magazine?) or they never EVER realize how much of freelance writing isn’t landing paid work but just pitching it. I had to take a step back when pitching consumed my life. Then another when writing my book consumed me. Yeah, I don’t get paid for the hours I spend pitching or the hours I spend answering fan mail letters from cool people all over the world, especially the ones interested in following similar Jewish paths. I suspect if you’re anything like me, you’re writing all day in your head, maybe even writing in your sleep. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night to write, sometimes I can’t go to sleep because I have so much I have to write about. Right now, I have 141 pending emails to look over for my blog. So along with your other full-time unpaid jobs, I know how your head and life can get crowded FAST!

  11. The Birth Whisperer says:

    My husband always says that I am a domestic engineer!

  12. Lady Lock and Load says:

    I love staying at home, I am my own boss and I have time to do the things I enjoy, plus my hubby comes home to a less frazzled wife and a hot home made meal. Therefore if someone asks me if I work, I am not offended at all. When I tell them no they are often very jealous because they have to work and their lives are so very hectic. I think I have gotten to a certain point in my life where I couldn’t care less what people say anymore. They are not losing any sleep at night thinking, “Hey, lady lock and load does not work!” This is what happens when you hit forty Hadassah, you have that to look forward to in another twenty or so years ;)

  13. I agree that being a SAHM is work, but I would disagree about the writing, as that’s more of a hobby. Not everything you do with your time is work…if you are doing something purely for the pleasure/enjoyment of it, then that’s a hobby. If you’re thinking about it as work maybe you need to cut back a bit. :) Or else can I say writing is my third job? :)

    • hadassahsabo says:

      i love to write – does that make it a hobby? if i got paid for it, does it become a paid hobby? paid work? i write now so that someday i shall get paid for it….how does that classify itself?? ;)

      writing is totally your third job. looks good on a resume (not that YOU need the extra help there, Ms PhD)

      • it’s an interesting question..when does work becuase not work and visa versa? Personally I don’t think writing is work (well it’s part of my job, but writing blog posts in particular is not work) because it’s something I do in my free time and I like doing it, and I would do it even if I didn’t get paid.

        But then you can argue…what if you like taking care of your kid? What if you like your job? I love my job, but it’s still work. And there is definitely work that is unpaid. And there are parts of my job I would do even if I wasn’t paid…like I’ve taught a class that wasn’t paid, in order to get the experience. I read sociology books that I don’t have to sometimes just because I’m interested in them- so is that work or fun? Some of the work I do, like peer reviewing articles, I’m not directly paid for, but it’s still part of my job and I consider it work.

        I’ve had long discussions with other sociologists about this (one thing I study is the division of childcare/housework and paid work, so I think about these things a lot) and it’s a hard concept to pin down.

  14. newbie says:

    out of interest – what book are you writing?

  15. tila says:

    A profession that has no respect: Motherhood. I have been a SAHM since the birth of my eldest. He is 13. From the moment he was born I was badgered by inlaws, and husband as to when I am going back to work. I never intended to, and the guilt i shoulder is very heavy. My mom was never there for me either she was working non stop or she was ill. I vowed to be there in everyway possible. There is a price to pay, and I am trying so hard to do this job as best as I am capable of. Go Hadasah!

  16. Z! says:

    I love how everyone comes to your defense so quickly!!

    although I do not approve of Comment’s remark and feel it was malicious and totally innapropriate, you do write a blog and leave yourself open to such questions. You are sometimes so open with your situation it often seems you have forgone your “right to privacy”.

    I didn’t feel there was need for everyone to get so riled up about it. It was a question, just like- “you’re remarried, are you pregnant yet?” or “what do you do?” ” Why are you still in Montreal?” Etc.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      Z! I try not to take these comments personally – most people who comment here do not know me, so really their opinions do not affect me that much. they are just opinions.

      thats why I try not to answer the unnecessary or malicious comments until I really feel it needs to be done.

      there are certain subjects that are no one’s business and I have no problem in saying that.

      but i do have the right to not answer a comment, and I invoke that right often. I know where my line is and I am comfortable with that.

      it seems my dear readers are very protective of me and my feelings, and I am truly honoured by how many jump to defend me when they deem it necessary.

  17. batya from NJ says:

    i too have been irked to no end by the condescending nature of the “what, you don’t work?” question that has been posed to me at different times in my life when i was not working for 1 reason or another (b/c i had recently given birth or b/c i had just relocated to another state & needed a break or whatever). i found it ironic once when a SAHM who had a full-time live-in seemed perplexed that i wasn’t working (since i have a Master’s degree in speech & language pathology & therefore in her mind i had no reason NOT to be working). i have absolutely NO patience for ppl who feel the need to decide for me what i should be doing with my life. heck, last i checked, it’s my decision (in consultation with my spouse) & no one else’s.
    whew, glad i got that off my chest :)!

  18. Z! says:

    OH! how I wish to one day be a SAHM and be a “Lady Who Lunches”!! But, the reality is that in NY the cost of living is high and a family often needs two incomes to make ends meet.

    I am proud that I am capable of being a contributing help in my household, but I do hope to contribute differently at different stages in my life and in my marriage.

    My mom was/is a SAHM, now a SAHW. She was always busy with chesed and the house and other obligations. Her girlfriends who worked would often make comments to her about her work situation. She would look at them baffled like- “Who WOULDN’T want to be at home?! No, I’m NOT bored or unfulfilled!”

  19. FIFTY-ONE COMMENTS! MOMMY MILNER IS ON FIRE!

    Put it in your pita and eat it.

    Benji

  20. Mark says:

    You think this question is bad here (in the USA)? You can’t imagine how bad it is in Israel where almost every woman, with children or not, young ones or not, works full-time. My wife was shocked at the disdain she felt hurled her way whenever she told people that she stays home with our kids!

  21. Tzipporah says:

    Hadassah – you go. Whether or not we work for pay in or out of the home, women still do the majority of the UNPAID essential labor necessary to keep our economies afloat.

    It’s time we start getting credit for it.

  22. Rachel says:

    This is what I have just started to notice. My BIL is a full-time atty and works MANY hours a day. MY SIL is a stay at home mom. She keeps the house clean, cooks, takes care of the child, runs the “admin”, etc. When the BIL comes home, he is exhausted but wants to play with the baby. SIL has dinner on the table, lets them have their play time, never says a word. But when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night? SIL must get the baby, after all, BIL is tired from working. (I am not speaking lashon hara, I understand it…he is a hard worker!!! But so is she!!!)

    When do stay at home moms get to say that they are tired from working?

  23. Lady-Light says:

    It is rare that SAHMs are appreciated in this society (Western, secular society, that is!). Judaism, on the other hand, values it greatly.
    Keep up the good work, and be proud!

  24. Julie says:

    kol hakavod…. im SAHM doing a masters and just started working part time from home. but even if i wasnt doing anything else, being sahm is enough.

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