If you’re a stay-at-home mom, how many times have you heard this? You’re so lucky you can stay home with your kids. Your husband must make a lot of money for you to be able to do that. Or maybe nobody’s actually said that to you, but you’ve felt that from people. And you just want to scream ‘It’s not luck! It’s sacrifice! We made choices so I could stay home because it was important to us!’
Or maybe you went back to work after you had kids, and when you told people that was your plan, they gave you a look of pity that said I’m so sorry you can’t afford to stop working. And you got all rage-y inside because you were just stating a fact, not looking for sympathy.
Maybe some of those assumptions people make are true. Maybe they’re not.
Maybe you can stay home because your husband makes a good living.
Maybe you are going back to work because he doesn’t.
Maybe you sacrifice painfully to stay home.
Or you work to provide a certain lifestyle for your family.
Maybe you stay home because you feel very strongly that it is best for your kids.
And maybe you work because you feel called to serve others through your job.
Maybe you stay home because the cost of daycare is more than the amount of your paycheck.
Or you work because you love what you do.
Maybe you’re home because you value simplicity.
Or you’re working because you are your family’s only provider.
Assumptions are harmful. They have very little to do with the person we are judging and more to do with our own hearts and our own values. If we desperately long to be home with our kids but can’t work it out financially, we might automatically assume other people who do stay home with their kids have more money than we do. If we stay home with our kids because we feel called beyond a shadow of a doubt to be with them full-time and couldn’t imagine our lives any other way, we might assume that people who don’t make the same choice are somehow abandoning their calling to stay home with their kids – when their calling may have been different, and they may have been called to serve in the workplace.
The family with the big house and nice cars has an easier life. The people in church who look put together really are put together. The couple that posts endearing messages for each other on Facebook has a problem-free marriage. That other mother has easier kids than we do. The family that’s smiling in their Christmas card photo is truly happy. The person that’s thinner than we are is so lucky to have good genes. That mother with a pile of kids never struggled with infertility. The woman surrounded by friends never struggles with loneliness. The family that just got back from vacation has no financial worries at all.
Assumptions breed jealousy and judgment in our own hearts and build walls around the hearts of others. Authenticity becomes impossible and we can’t share our brokenness with each other because we become too focused on living a life that others will assume is perfect – because we have to live up to the perfection we’re falsely assuming in everyone else’s lives.
But you know what? That’s a lonely, lonely place to be. Ladies, we need a shoulder on the days when our homes are a disaster, dinner came from the drive-thru, our kids can’t get along for more than 2 minutes at a time, we’re stressed about bills, and we’re feeling like our marriage is a mess. But we’re afraid to find a shoulder and reveal that our life isn’t what it seems. And we certainly don’t want to reach for the shoulder of the perfect mom down the street lest we feel even more inadequate in comparison to her.
So let’s give up perfection to find authenticity. It’s time to get real. And give up the assumptions that are not only impacting the way we view our own lives, but the relationships we have with others.
We need each other.