"What do you do for a living?" Innocent enough question. But this question brings up so many mixed feelings. The short answer: I'm a stay at home mom. But my staying home looks a bit different from other stay at home moms.
I'm a stay at home mom of a child with complex medical needs, a special needs child.
I always struggle to answer this simple enough question. One part of me wants to answer it with just the stay at home mom part. I don't want to go into details, I don't want to give the reason for being a stay at home mom. And this has nothing to do with feeling ashamed, but everything to do with the reactions that will surely follow, especially if I have to go into details of Jacques' very lengthy medical background. The reactions are quite predictable by this time (almost 15 years since his birth).
First the reactions are mostly of amazement and some times a bit of anger. Anger for the doctor not picking up on anything before birth.
The amazement morfs into horror as I explain the many theater visits, the many hospitalizations and the to many to count times he's been sick.
The horror becomes sympathy. Sympathy for Jacques, for going through all of this, sympathy for us, his family, who goes through everything with him.
And then finally, the sadness turns into the reason I hate to answer this question (and mention Jacques) - acceptance.
I see the acceptance I still struggle with.
Accepting that Jacques will probably not live to see his 30's. Accepting our reasons for not visiting regularly. Accepting our reasons for keeping Jacques away from certain activities. They realize and accept a fate I have not yet fully accepted, but I am close.
All of the above being said, I still usually answer the question with: "I am a stay at home mom of a child with special needs."
And I answer the question like this because without the reason, I feel ashamed.
I feel ashamed to answer with only "I am a stay at home mom". I know the judging looks I will get. The "Oh no, you're completely dependent on your husband" replies I will get. The off-hand comments of "I wouldn't know what to do with myself with all that free time". And the reply I detest most, but usually get: "I could never ask my husband/boyfriend for money."
So to avoid the above mentioned replies and comments I go into our "sob story". I mention Jacques' journey so far, I sometimes even add a bit of maths. I explain to them that a place/home that would be capable of caring for Jacques would cost about R25000 a month. So I would have to get a job that pay at least R25000 a month just to get Jacques into a place that would be able to care for him almost as well as we do.
Why can't we as women be more supportive of each other? If you are happy with what you are doing in life, I am happy with you. ❤️