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the "you're so lucky" comments

post #1 of 113
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone! I needed to vent and I figured surely I'm not the only one who has experienced this.

I have been a SAHM for 7 months now to my baby boy. I love it, although there are definitely times I'm frustrated and miss my old job (which I liked), and there are definitely times I worry about finances. But it's all worth it to be there for my son.

But I am getting SO TIRED of people telling me "Oh you're so lucky you can stay home! I wish I could, but I just can't afford it" (or sometimes they tell me about a sister, friend, daughter, etc who "can't afford it"). The thing is, most of the times I've heard this, it's from people where I know it's not true. For instance, I recently heard this from someone who owns a new home that's about 2.5 times the size of my 30 year old home. Many people I know who say they "can't afford" to stay home actually could, but they would have to be willing to make sacrifices.

I guess what bugs me is there's this implication that they think I've just been super lucky and they haven't been. And I am lucky - some mamas truly can't afford to stay home, and I can afford to. But, I'm not living luxuriously like some of my friends are. After we pay the bills, there's almost nothing left over. Basically, I can stay home because DH and I were willing to live very frugally to make that happen. So it kind of bugs me when friends tell me "Oh, I just can't afford to stay home" while they're constantly going out to dinner, going to expensive shows, buying new clothes and cars, and living in huge houses. I want to tell them it's not luck that allows me to stay home, it's that I don't buy all the stuff they do! But I don't want to be rude. Do these comments get under anyone else's skin too?
post #2 of 113
No, they don't bother me. I AM incredibly blessed to be able to stay at home. And while what I see on the surface might lead me to believe others could make the same choice, I know that there's sometimes a lot of stuff I don't necessarily know about that compels others to make different choices. And that's OK. I just take it at face value and smile and maybe change the subject.
post #3 of 113
It does kind of bug me, because for anyone to say that to me is just ridiculous! Most of the time people will say that because they are just used to saying that...then they sort of backtrack because they realize who they're talking to. Or if they don't know us very well, I just reply "neither can I!"
We live below poverty level. But it is best for me to stay home with DD and if that means that we are dirt poor while DH is finishing school, then we'll just be poor. DD has never gone hungry or without clothes or diapers. I wouldn't even say she was deprived of a lot of fun little things, thanks to her being so loved by so many

I try not to let it bug me though. I know our priorities are different. But I will occasionally say something that is funny but a bit sarcastic if I'm in a foul mood (and sometimes I regret it...sometimes I don't!)
post #4 of 113
I agree with the PP. We are also rather poor. I wanted to be a SAHM from even before our kids were conceived, but even so, even if I *wanted* to get a job right now, I wouldn't even be breaking even if you factored in child care. My husband is unemployed and has been for... uh. Five years. We don't get government aid; we live off his disability. Which is under the poverty line. We were incredibly lucky to inherit a modest house that is completely paid off, but other than that? It's pretty bare bones as far as our budget goes. Under the poverty line and all that. We don't seem poor though; we live well because we are frugal. When I get the "you're so lucky" comments I always have to bite my tongue to tell them our income. I'd love the jaw drops! But I don't want to be rude, either. It's true that we have no mortgage but even if you factor that in to our neighborhood, we're still making a lot less than anyone else here is, by a long shot. The moms around here have fancy cell phones and elaborate weddings and new designer clothes for their kids - and I shop at the thrift store, Freecycle, etc. We barely have anything new in our home - which is more than OK with me - but that's not considered "cool" around here. It's about choices. I'd rather be at home with my family than have new clothes and cars. I wouldn't mind being able to afford a nice vacation, though... One day, I guess!

I'd like to really tell someone one day that if they want to stay at home, it IS possible, here are some tips etc etc. If we can make it work out, so can you. But I have a feeling the people I talk to really aren't looking for advice on how to make that happen; I think it's almost one of those things to say to one-up someone. Not that they're trying to be rude or anything, but just one of those general things to complain about that's still OK in polite company. Like how little sleep they're getting or how overworked they are. It's not really about you but them. Cos really, how are you going to counter that - "no, I'm totally not lucky to SAH, I hate my family"? I doubt it.
post #5 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
No, they don't bother me. I AM incredibly blessed to be able to stay at home. And while what I see on the surface might lead me to believe others could make the same choice, I know that there's sometimes a lot of stuff I don't necessarily know about that compels others to make different choices. And that's OK. I just take it at face value and smile and maybe change the subject.
This.

I don't know what kind of debt someone else is carrying. Maybe they can afford to go out dinner all the time because they have to work to afford their debts, and then have more disposable income leftover. Maybe they are in a financial situation where if their spouse lost their job, they wouldn't be able to make ends meet, and they are trying to protect their home and assets during a difficult economy, just in case. Maybe they need that spouse's health insurance. There are a million different scenarios that are very personal, and I wouldn't expect someone to tell me the intimate details of their finances when saying they couldn't afford to be a SAHP.

It's not my place to judge who should and should not stay at home.

And people mean different things when they talk about what they can afford. To some people, it means saving enough for their children's college, or a huge sum for retirement, or taking care of their elderly parents, etc. etc. For some people, staying at home doesn't just mean a couple of years without income - it could mean a significant decrease in lifetime income in certain careers. I know that when I finally go back to work, I'm going to have to restart at entry-level employment because I will have been out of the work force for at least 9 years (that's the plan anyway).

I've been a SAHM for 4.5 years, in a very high cost of living area, so I've heard this comment a lot. I usually just say "Yes, I am very lucky" and smile. Because I *am* lucky that DH makes a good living, but we also waited until we could afford for me to stay home before starting our family. I'm not going to rub that in someone else's face and make them feel like I think they made a poor choice, when that's absolutely not the case.
post #6 of 113
I think it's an offensive statement coming from most of the people who I hear it from....offensive to the people who TRULY cannot afford to stay home!
post #7 of 113
Interesting. My take on it is different. I hear it as a well-meaning statement, not one of envy or ignorance. Just an alternative to, "Wow, that's really great you have found a way to make that work." At least that's how I would mean it were I to say it.

But I suppose a lot of it is in the tone, which of course I can't get just reading this.
post #8 of 113
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokonon View Post
This.

I don't know what kind of debt someone else is carrying. Maybe they can afford to go out dinner all the time because they have to work to afford their debts, and then have more disposable income leftover. Maybe they are in a financial situation where if their spouse lost their job, they wouldn't be able to make ends meet, and they are trying to protect their home and assets during a difficult economy, just in case. Maybe they need that spouse's health insurance. There are a million different scenarios that are very personal, and I wouldn't expect someone to tell me the intimate details of their finances when saying they couldn't afford to be a SAHP.

It's not my place to judge who should and should not stay at home.
Please don't think I'm judging who "should" stay at home. I'm not talking about judging people who have made a decision to work and have higher income and are happy with that decision. That's their choice. I'm talking about friends who constantly say that they want to stay home but then complain that they can't afford it.... but they live in a house that costs 3x as much as mine (I live in a small, old house in an area with many huge, new homes). When they start saying I'm just so lucky and they wish they were lucky like me, that's what annoys me - it feels like they're implying that my being able to stay home just dropped into my lap. And I find that frustrating, that they don't see that it's my decisions that got me here. If they want to choose to own a large house and then have to work, that's fine with me - but I feel like they need to own up to that choice. Anyhow, thanks for the comments everyone, all very interesting!
post #9 of 113
Most of the time when I've gotten this comment, it's been with a clear tone of "You must be really rich to be able to afford to stay home." And I do find it really irritating, because as the OP said, we are not rich, and make lots of sacrifices to be able to afford to have me home.

That said, I don't think it's healthy or necessary to get into a debate about it. Maybe that's what the person needs to believe in order to feel better about her own choices. I just take it at face value, say something along the lines of, "I'm really glad to be home with the kids," and move the conversation elsewhere.
post #10 of 113
Yeah, if they're complaining about not being able to do it themselves, that's different than just a "that's great for you" comment. Agreed. I had read it differently at first.
post #11 of 113
I don't usually reply, but I had to here! I have stayed at home for 6.5 years since my oldest dd was born, and these comments drive me crazy depending upon who is saying them. But I totally sympathize with what you are saying. Staying at home is probably the hardest job I've ever had because I've had to self motivate for everything I do with very little "tangible" rewards to know that I've done a good job at the end of the day. Yes, those moments that I get see where my dd's shine and are sweet and are blessings are the ones I, and they, will remember from this time. But those days when they have fought all day long or whined constantly, and the basement's flooded and the dinner burned, those days are very hard. Take heart in knowing that no mother in the world is perfect, we don't always have a kind word on our lips or a kind thought in our hearts. Just keep doing the best you can, and forgive yourself for the bad things, and praise yourself for the good. Good luck!
post #12 of 113
I usually say "I DO feel lucky to have been able to make that choice". Because it is true.

Most of our friends are SAHM's though, so I don't hear it that often.
post #13 of 113
I just wanted to put in something from the other side (once this baby gets here I will not be a SAHM).

I have said to SAHMs before that they're so lucky. I hate to think that they took it the wrong way.

Could I stay at home? Probably. We could live off of my DH's income and not even be poverty.

So when I call you lucky I would mean more that you have the emotional wherewithal to stay home. I have even said, "Oh, I wish I could afford to stay home." But what I really mean is, "I wish the idea of losing my whole income, health benefits, retirement, and living in a tiny house didn't send me into panic attacks."

I've had people try to explain to me how I could stay home if I really wanted to. But to me my emotional well being is important for my children as well.

I'm not at all trying to get into the whole SAHM vs WOHM thing at all... I just wanted to give an alternate view of why some people might say that you're "lucky." Obviously I don't know if you're also having panic attacks at living on one income, so maybe saying you're lucky isn't fair. But I promise that I, at least, mean it in the kindest possible way.
post #14 of 113
I do feel blessed to stay home.

But part of the reason I am "lucky" is that I have a husband who is willing to work incredibly hard and live on incredibly little in order to make it possible for me to be home.
post #15 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
I do feel blessed to stay home.

But part of the reason I am "lucky" is that I have a husband who is willing to work incredibly hard and live on incredibly little in order to make it possible for me to be home.
post #16 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
I do feel blessed to stay home.

But part of the reason I am "lucky" is that I have a husband who is willing to work incredibly hard and live on incredibly little in order to make it possible for me to be home.
post #17 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by April Dawn View Post
Please don't think I'm judging who "should" stay at home. I'm not talking about judging people who have made a decision to work and have higher income and are happy with that decision. That's their choice.
I came back to say almost that. If someone does have a well-paying job or high-powered career and has tons of benefits and expendable income and who is able to afford tons of luxuries... you *could* say "you're so lucky" to them. But usually you don't. Usually they got that through the choices they made and hard work. Just like choosing to live on less and work just as hard (albeit with different goals in mind) is also not about luck; it's about choices. Like the PP who said that "For some people, staying at home doesn't just mean a couple of years without income - it could mean a significant decrease in lifetime income in certain careers." - well, that's true - but it was a choice to be in that profession to begin with. Probably a GOOD choice, I'm not knocking it, but still. I am going to be 30 soon and I still haven't started a career. Went to college but chose to "drop out" and have a few babies instead of going down the career path. By much of society's standards that's crazy, but that's the choice we willingly made; that's where our priorities lay. Conversely I also don't call lucky a lady who has chosen career first, built it up so that she can be financially secure and delayed having a child into her 30's - and then finds that she can't conceive as easily as someone in her 20's could have. We never know how our choices will work out in the end.

There are exceptions, of course. Sometimes it is about luck - but you still never know the whole story. My mom's seems like an ideal scenario. Lady was poor as dirt, a millionaire married her, moved her to America, and she was a SAHM to me (only one child) for, like, my whole childhood. Took exotic vacations everywhere, lived in a huge house, she had free use of a credit card to buy whatever object she wanted with. So, luck, right? But she hated it. She wanted the freedom she had before she moved to America, she missed her family, my dad cheated on her and emotionally abused her, he wouldn't LET her get a job, he lied to her constantly... So basically she wouldn't necessarily see herself as lucky. I guess what I'm trying to say is that unless you know a person's true situation you shouldn't deem them lucky or unlucky; it can trigger way too many issues for small talk. Or, conversely, if you DO get that comment, I guess you can just dismiss it as idle small talk as well.
post #18 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhiOrion View Post
So when I call you lucky I would mean more that you have the emotional wherewithal to stay home. I have even said, "Oh, I wish I could afford to stay home." But what I really mean is, "I wish the idea of losing my whole income, health benefits, retirement, and living in a tiny house didn't send me into panic attacks." I've had people try to explain to me how I could stay home if I really wanted to. But to me my emotional well being is important for my children as well.
That's funny - it's almost the same with me, but reversed. I know that if I racked my brain hard enough, I could figure out a way to get a job that would make up for the cost of daycare. I know that. And get benefits to boot. But emotionally, it's a no go. I don't really *like* being a SAHM much of the time - an office job would seem like a vacation sometimes. Heck, even the commute would be nice!! All that time spent by yourself in the car! Problem is, for ME, I know I couldn't live with myself with the guilt I would feel. I feel bad being away from the kids for an hour at a time, never mind putting them in daycare. Again, I'm not trying to stir up the WOHM/SAHM debate either, but the point is that some people would be emotionally tied to having an income and some people would be emotionally tied to staying with their kids (even if it wasn't "fun" all the time). Same symptom - panic attacks - but different causes. We all live with our demons, I guess!
post #19 of 113
My take is different as well. I always think that they mean in terms of getting to be with your child...and that's it.

The people who see and know me know that we live poorly. Much more frugally than they do. THEY DO NOT ENVY US our financial situation, and are probably happy that they earn more than we do. They enjoy the purchases they make. And although some may (in polite conversation) say they wish they could stay home, they don't mean it. Just as not all of us SAHM's wish we could leave our homejobs (although sometimes we may say we do, and some of us genuinely do, as well.)

I feel what they are commenting on is the ability for our son to be with a parent, in his own environment, being nurtured one on one. And that I'm get to enjoy his baby years. They never tell DH that he's "lucky" for having a SAHW...(unless, it's like, his mother...or my mother). But DS gets told that he's lucky. So I figure it's an issue of family time and bonding.
post #20 of 113
I usually respond with something along the lines "I can't afford to go back to work! With daycare, mileage expenses, possible illnesses...We found it makes more fiscal sense to stay home." Even though it's the absolute truth, I like to think it also gives the other person something to think about, that maybe they too could make it work for them.
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