July 11, 2008

No Solicitors

The other day a girl came to the door selling magazines to support some cause that, to be honest, I didn't listen to or care about. I didn't want or need any magazines and haven't the extra twenty or thirty dollars anyway. I'm certain I wasn't the first to shoo her away in the neighborhood. She turned abruptly and then called back as she walked away, "I'm just trying to make money now so I can do what you do and just stay home with the kids all day."

I felt like saying a few things that came to mind at that moment, but she was already down the sidewalk and off to the next house across the street. So I just stood there in my flowery apron, holding a tray of freshly baked cookies, with the kids playing quietly at my feet and smiled.

Or rather I stood there with my hair half up in a pony tail, extreme fatigue on my face from an already long day of writing deadlines and phone calls, on top of taking care of the kids. There was no Amy Butler apron or gooey chocolate chip cookies, but there was me in a dirty t-shirt and skirt I had maybe worn to bed the night before. And the kids screamed about in chaos behind me. The only thing quiet at my feet were crumbs and Legos. And possibly my sanity down there somewhere.

I had never felt so invisible as a work at home Mom than at that moment. And many feelings I didn't realize I had been holding in began to break loose. I get the vibes all too often from some friends and family that they do not understand I am not just a stay at home Mom. My writing and blogging is work. It does pay some bills. Not all the bills, but it definitely pays some. Being on my computer or iPhone so often may look like fun and games and an annoying little hobby to others, but I'm really working and establishing myself- my business.

Yesterday, for the first time that I can ever remember, I sat here at my computer and looked at what I've been working very hard on lately and realized something that made me cry. A good cry.

I am proud of myself. And you know what? I have every reason to be. If people that come to the door or friends or whatever don't see it, at least I do.

And, um, even if I wasn't a writer and didn't get paychecks in the mail, managing a household and one or more children without pay is plenty of an under appreciated business in itself. Oh if only just staying at home with the kids all day was all we did. Everyone has their thing. Mine happens to be writing. There is something that you do that you can be proud of, and should be.

So, say, if your thing is making gooey chocolate chip cookies, I'd love to be proud of you for that. Go right ahead and send them my way, 'kay?


This post has been submitted to Scribbit's July Write Away Contest "Wonder Woman."


79 comments:

  1. AMEN, Sistah! Thank you. I feel so self conscious calling what I do "working from home". But that IS what I'm doing. Yeah, it's fun. Yeah, there are perks. But it's work, and it's earning me some money, and more than that, it's giving me a sense of accomplishment that I didn't have before I discovered blogging and designing.

    So preach it, girl. :-)

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  2. Let me be the first to say...I really have no idea how you do it. You are a fab mommy, you write just about everywhere on the blogosphere (and in publications), and still manage to look beautiful in every pix I've seen you in. I know it has to take some work, babe, but I have to say that you are rocking it. That girl had NO idea what it takes to stay at home and try to bring in some income too. You just keep on smiling and doing your thing. And I'll keep on admiring you from over here!!

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  3. Girl, taking care of the kids IS a job... that's why people get paid to do it... lol.. if it was a walk in the park, caregivers would be lined up at me house now, and dropping from the sky to take care of my girls... You rock... i don't normally comment, but your post moved me. you should be proud, you're a mom, a friend, a writer, and an inspiration. keep up the good work..

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  4. Amen! I couldn't have expressed that any better.
    Oh, and I'm looking for someone whose "thing" is laundry. I think my laundry gene is defective.

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  5. I am proud of you for being proud of yourself Stephanie! I have been experiencing similiar emotions lately and the people who don't see what I do are really irritating me bad lately. If they would leave me alone during the day and let me do my thing I would be able to do more of it!

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  6. There will be a day that girl will have kids and understand.

    Our job is the biggest sacrifice that produces an even bigger rewards. GO GIRL!!

    Lori

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  7. Aside from how well-written this post is, we must've had the same magazine solicitor. I turned her away, too, and she made almost the same comment to me. Only in my case, I'm not a SAHM or even a WAHM, so I gritted my teeth and said, "I'm a teacher and off for the summer. When you figure out a plan to stay home, let me know!" Isn't it amazing how quick people are to judge? What if I was staying home because I had a special needs child? Or because I'd just lost my job? Or, like in your case, someone who works from home (for which I have the utmost respect, I don't know how you get anything done!)?

    I understand you on the vibes, too. Interestingly enough, I get those vibes as a teacher, too. If I dare complain about unruly kids or the low pay scale for teachers, I am always, always countered with the fact that we get summers off...and while yes, that's a nice perk, it doesn't erase the fact that there are some flaws with the profession.

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  8. sing it sista! I work from home too and it's not as easy as it looks!

    there will always be people that don't understand, thinking we sit around all day in our pajamas, eating snacks while watching our soaps.

    but we know better...

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  9. What a wonderful post! I don't think a lot of people realize what it's all about to be a stay at home mom - sometimes I wish I could just lash out and tell them what it's all about - but as you did I just smile and let them go on there merry way. I just like to think - someday people will realize and if they don't, I know, my kids know, my family knows, and mostly God knows. He see's all those things that we do that go un noticed by anyone, even yourself at times. *Hugs*

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  10. Seriously feeling the exact same freaking way.

    Sigh.

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  11. Congratulations on your new writing/editing gig, that sounds very exciting!

    And way to go being proud of yourself! You deserve it!

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  12. I'm proud of you.
    I'm proud of you for writing this and believing in yourself. I often wonder how you and so many moms do it.

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  13. oh my goodness, that's nervy. Well, half the time those kids are employed by scammers anyway. I wonder if they're trained in snotty things to say as they walk away. You have a lot to be proud of (but you would even if you were "only" staying home, too.)

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  14. i would have had a hard time not chasing that girl down the street and punching her in her rude cake hole! hahaha...just kidding...maybe. :)

    stay at home parents are the most disrespected and under-appreciated in our society, i believe. my husband stays at home and runs his own business, and he gets enormous amounts of grief for it. everything from being called "mr. mom" to having his ideas & opinions virtually ignored and having questions about the kids directed specifically to me, just because i am their mom. it's ridiculous!

    i respect everyone that stays home with their children. it's a HUGE job in and of itself, and you're all doing wonderful jobs raising amazing children. kudos to all the stay at homes!

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  15. I love that you spoke with so much pride in what you do that resonates to a lot of us in the blogoshpere.

    And imagining you in a flowery apron holding a tray of freshly baked cookies and smiling sounds so cute...It would've been really funny if you actually took a pic as described...lol

    :-)MJ

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  16. amen! I wish I could get my friends and family (including the hubby) to realize that blogging is work. Ugh!

    I don't know how you manage to do all that you do. Keep up the great work and the hopefully Little Miss Magazine pusher will get a clue!

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  17. Great post! You can turn something yucky into something positive.

    You're such a great encouragement. :)

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  18. Oh goodness me, yes. We all make judgments about what others are doing and how easy it is. In fact, AD and I do right here in our own house since we both "work" at home. I get jealous of AD upstairs just yakking it up on the phone, talking to grown ups all day, stopping whenever he wants -- how easy he has it to not have someone tugging on his arm all day. And he gets jealous of me down here playing with the boy all day. The truth is we both have it good. It's crazy. It's human.

    I love the central truth about the human experience in this post and the way you expressed it.

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  19. Gosh! The nerve of that girl!

    Thank you so much for giving all of us who stay at home a better rep than what the rest of the world wants to assign us. :-)

    You are an amazing WAHM and make us all proud!

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  20. Bravo, Stephanie! Wonderful writing with such truth. I can relate to a lot of what you wrote.

    I'd take it even a step further and share that I often get the vibe from family, friends, and society in general, that because I am a SAHM, and not a WAHM, that I'm a slacker. Because I'm not making money in a paycheck, I'm not pulling my share. Which you gracefully touched on how untrue that is in your post. Thank you for that. :)

    Because in reality, I 'make' us money by the way that I save us money. I work very hard to stretch my husband's hard earned income to make a comfortable lifestyle for us. As a matter of fact, in the last 13 months we were able to pay off $22,000 in debt and get completely out of debt (except for our mortgage). And, that was without either one of us bringing in more income. My husband would be the first to tell anyone that we were able to do it because I work hard at running our home in the most cost effective way. And, it does take a lot of work.

    However, in the end, I just keep reminding myself that all the money that I ever make (or save) will be for naught if in doing so I neglect to love and nurture my husband and children in the way that I should. The love and appreciation that I get from them in return is all the paycheck I need.

    Sounds hokey, I know. But, it's so true.

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  21. Being a mother is the most important job in the world and most undervalued. After all mothers are raising the next generation - our future "movers and shakers." Also remember what that young lady said tells more about her than about you. That was her perspective only and not about you.

    Quite some time ago women were expected to be stay at home moms and those who worked outside the home were often considered neglectful wives and mothers. Times do change!

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  22. I hear you! There have been many times I've realized that not many people understand or even know the work I do "behind the scenes". Juggling writing deadlines in between swim team and dinner can be tricky. But, like you, I've come to the realization that, just because others may not realize what I have on my plate, doesn't mean it's not important. Thanks for the reminder, Steph.

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  23. I admire you for doing what you love to do and be able to make it your career plus be a stay at home mom. I, as your mom am Very Proud of you and know how hard you work at what you do. You have made such a difference in so many peoples lives.

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  24. Wow. I had a phone solicitor yesterday calling about my subscription to OK magazine. I told her I didn't subscribe to that title. She asked which ones I did subscribe to, since "the rates are going up next week and I can get you a better deal." I said no thank you. She said "suffer!" and hung up. I was speechless.

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  25. Well, my stomach dropped as I read what she said to you as she walked away, so I can't imagine how you must have felt. You have so much to be proud of - paychecks or not - we all do. It amazes me how misunderstood stay at home parenting still is. We are still such a stereotype in our culture and it's just so upsetting to me sometimes.

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  26. Oh how I wish I could work from home. I don't know what I'd do though. You are a beautiful, accomplished, and enterprising woman. You should be proud of your business, and your writing. I do love being a teacher, but most of the time I just want to be a mom at home again.

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  27. Obvious ignorance on the solicitor's part. I'm a SAHM, and don't remember the last time I actually was able to stay-at-home for an entire day. That is not a complaint. I love being at home with my kids. My youngest still has one more year before kindergarten. When she starts school, I will have been home with at least one preschooler for 10 years. It will be 10 years well spent with no regrets. Take pride in who you are, what you are doing, your accomplishments and knowing you are who God wants you to be.

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  28. Everyday I am encouraged by what you do and what you say. You are completely authentic and always inspiring. Keep it up!

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  29. I hear you! I am so thankful to be able to make some money from home designing, but my life is anything but glamorous.

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  30. You said EVERY dang thing I have been trying to tell my husband for months.

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  31. I do make some pretty good chocolate chip cookies. I do not write, at least not for real. That sentence probably made that clear. Keep up the good work!

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  32. This was a wonderful post. When I read this sentence - "Being on my computer or iPhone so often may look like fun and games and an annoying little hobby to others, but I'm really working and establishing myself- my business." - I just wanted to give you a huge hug and say "thank you." I feel like that ALL OF THE TIME. Every spare moment I have (naptime, bedtime, downtime), I'm working...writing...

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  33. Thank you!!! I feel a little less alone in this work at home/stay at home mom thing I do.

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  34. Some day that girl will be at home with a house full of kids and think back on that moment and kick herself for her comment. She will see just how hard it really is.

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  35. I personally think working at home is the hardest job out there. I have an in home day care... and there are no paid sick days, janitors, or bonuses!

    Yet I wouldn't trade what I do for any High profile job in the world. I still get be with my four beautiful daughters everyday.

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  36. I'm also a work from home Mom. I own several websites and am starting a service based business too. It isn't easy. It is very hard to balance it all and not lose my mind. I know what you mean. I don't do it with nearly as much style and grace as it seems you do though LOL Congrats on your new gig at 5 minutes.

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  37. I couldn't have said it better myself! I'm just getting started in the blogging world besides being a Mary Kay consultant and if one more person asks me when I'm going back to a "real job" they are going to see the rath of a VERY pregnant woman cross their path!

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  38. You are saying what so many of us don't have the guts to post! Great post. I wish I did have some cookies to send your way. . . :)

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  39. OMWord. I can't believe some people. I would never think of talking to someone like that! I really am dumbfounded, as I'm sure you were when it happened.

    I'm proud of my store:) and I just walked to the PO with the kids to ship 6 orders, and then came home and whipped up some lip balm!

    I think you're a fab writer and I'm so proud of all the gigs you've got going on.

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  40. I also don't know how you do it. I can barely post some days with the two boys! You are a super MOM! You do a great job and I'm always impressed. I don't know how you think of post ideas. I can't hear myself think for half of the day! Ahhhhh... girl..... You do such a great job! Don't listen and we're super proud of you in blogging land!

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  41. Well worded and so true...When I worked for a firm out of my house it was bad...BUT now I only do odds and ends projects on my own and its even worse! But I LOVE the ability to stay at home and I am working on other WAH opportunities! I think you are amazing with all of your jobs!

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  42. Like I said the other day, I don't know how you manage it all. Miss "attitude solicitor girl" had no idea who's doorbell she was rining!

    You're doin' a great job Steph and as soon as I perfect that chocolate chip recipe, I will send some on! ; ) (warning: it could be a while)

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  43. WOOHOO! You tell em. That girl is in for a rude awakening someday. You work hard girl and you are awesome at what you do!

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  44. Steph, I have always told you I am proud of you...this thing you do has really taken off and I am so happy for you. No one can understand what it's like unless they are in your shoes. Shame on that chick.
    Anyhoo, working at an office is not all it's cracked up to be anyway. I can't just leave when I want and I have to answer to someone else with my work. Where do I sign up for the work at home deal again? Because I would LOVE that! Keep doin' what you're doin' girl because it's obviously working and keeping you happy. Love ya-Jen

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  45. You're right -- it's hard enough work being at home with a child, and when you add a paying job to that, it's tougher. When Fly was a newborn, I couldn't work at home and ended my projects.

    And I hate it when salespeople think a good selling point is to make you pity them.

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  46. You handled it way nicer than I would've. You are amazing and I dont know how you do it! I started staying home with Gabe because of his preemie status and Liv was going to 1/2 day K. Then we figured out that due to her special needs and the sucktacularness of our schools, she needed to be homeschooled. And now, we have one more on the way.

    And, cookies are indeed my thing. Where would you like them sent?

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  47. The nerve of that girl. Good thing you weren't holding that plate of gooey chocolate chip cookies; she might have got a face-full!

    On a softer note...

    Your post really struck me. There are so many of us doing the exact same thing: working, earning, but most importantly being the best mom we can. And if our "jobs" seem silly to some, or even invisible, whatever. They just don't get it. You go girl.

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  48. You Rock!!!!
    I needed to hear that today more than anything else! Thank you!!!
    I too am a work at home, I homeschool both of my kids and sell books, am the regional manager for Barefoot Books, I write on my blog, network,clean, cook, and some many other things that the hats I wear can change from minute to minute.
    And, you know what I too am really proud of myself!
    Steph I am proud of you too!
    Best wishes,
    Rebecca
    And if I wasn't busy enough I am going back to grad. school soon....did I mention I study the Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics :)

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  49. Maybe you could make up some cute T-shirts that would convey the message that stay at home or work at home mom's are valued and you are proud of it. You've got to get the message out that staying/working at home with the kids is VERY important and should be taken seriously and valued as such.

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  50. Yea I think that is what a lot of people think of me too when I say I work from home.

    Honestly, I have never worked so hard in my life. I have been working from home and taking care of my girls since 2003. It sure is a balancing act and I am usually surviving on 4 or 5 hours of sleep each night as I am up, way up in the morning working but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

    This is my time and this is my place to shine right in front of my girls and watching their every move growing up. Mom... only a 3 letter word but so much bigger than that for real!

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  51. You just tell that girl to get a REAL job...like being a SAHM. ;)

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  52. You have every right to be proud of yourself and what you do! When I grow up, I want to be just like Steph! (and Jo-Lynne)

    BTW, congrats on the launch of 5M4P! I'm subscribed already!

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  53. So true! I consider what I do work, but to everyone else I'm just goofing off on the computer and neglecting the kids. It's aggravating and frustrating.

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  54. But don't forget to be thankful that you can do this right now.

    We don't have kids yet because I can't pay all the bills with any work-at-home job I've figured out, so I go to an office and work 45 -50 hours per week. Because right now I still need to pay ALL the bills.

    I'm looking forward to the type of work you do, instead of the copying, phone answering, putting up with moody bosses type I have now ....

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  55. You said that so very well.

    This made me remember when I was teaching full time and envious of my friend who had two children under two. I kept thinking I wish I could just stay at home all day like her. Needless to say, I didn't have children at the time. Sometimes I'm amazed at what I used to think.

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  56. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for saying what all of us are feeling.

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  57. SAHM and WAHM are so under appreciated! Growing up, the only "career" I knew I wanted was to be a SAHM... what a blessing. Having no kids (yet), you are the kind of mom and woman that I look to as an example. Keep up the amazing work, you're an inspiration! :)

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  58. Ugh. You SHOULD be proud. In fact, we should all be proud of ourselves, no matter what we do. There is never any cause to take out your own frustrations on a stranger, simply because she has no need for your services.

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  59. Love that line about the flowery apron and cookies! If only life were like that!

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  60. You rock, I am just letting you know. And I am very proud/in awe of all you have done-I am always telling my husband how cool I think you are and all the great things/advice you write about.

    So, Steph, PLEASE keep on "just staying home with the kids" cause you help keep me sane by letting me into your little blog life and encouraging me in mine. :)

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  61. Amen Sister. Family and friends call during my work day and sometimes act confused when I say I'm working and can't talk. Some people still act shocked when I tell how early I have to get up to work when I've told them this already in the past! I do a ton of writing for my job too. Yes, I'm on my computer, but I'm working!

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  62. Bravo! Well said, Stephanie.

    (By the way, if you send me your address, I might be your cookie making friend. Baking is my addiction.)

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  63. Gosh darn toooten! That is the strongest language I will allow for this comment:)

    You go! and the belly is coming along nicely congrats!

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  64. Amen Sister! oh wait I was really going to say that then looked over and saw JO-lynne had too started her comment with that. What's it about us holy roly ladies?? LOL Just kidding. But seriously, I agree 110% I do manage a household, soon to be three kids, a ministry and a writing career so I completely understand and know that no one else does sometimes and that's annoying!

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  65. No matter what area of life or profession, there are always people who think that their own lack of success and the success of others is due to "luck."

    Of course a little luck never hurt, but that luck finds you when you are working hard. They are missing the hard work that goes into 99% of success stories.

    I had a friend who was a SAHM of 4 and she couldn't stand when people commented on her "luck"--she scraped and scrimped to do something she believed to be important.

    And people tell me I'm lucky to work from home--well what about the years I spent building my teaching credentials and going to college and grad school and paying off the loans?

    Nope. I have even heard I was just "lucky" that I was smart enough to go to a good college.

    I'm lucky and proud to have been born in the US in this day and age...but I still had to work hard to make something of my opportunities.

    Some people just feel better thinking they have no responsibility for their life and sitting around waiting for luck to happen to them.

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  66. I used to think it'd be easy to "just" stay at home with the kids... before I had Suzi. Now I'm glad I work outside the home a little. And with college still somewhat fresh in my mind, I remember the stress of deadlines. I thought I was the only one who felt like crap when salespeople came right up to my door and I had to tell them no. I think we ought to be safe if we stay in our houses. Don't tempt an honest shopaholic!

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  67. Wow you totally just spoke to me. I too have, as of lately, had the same exact moment of crying in front of my computer. Crying because I know that what I am doing (working from home) is really helping my family, and I am proud of myself.
    Yeah nobody really knows what I do, and most of the time I am treated as if I'm sitting around all day doing nothing. HA! I have no such thing as 15 minute breaks or an hour for lunch. Most of the time, I am eating lunch in front of my computer, working in my only free time of the day, when the baby is sleeping.
    What does make me happy is that at least my husband knows it, and he is proud of me. If it weren't for the money I bring in we would not have just bought our first house.

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  68. I haven't read the comments, so I don't know who else has said this, but that was a SCAM! I had a very similar girl come to my door and guilt me and I bought a magazine and it's not even a real company. My $32 is down the drain and after I looked it up, there are tons of complaint forums about it.

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  69. P.S. I wanted to encourage you to submit this for Scribbit's July writing contest. The theme is "Wonder Woman."
    Lori

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  70. Couldn't agree more... People forget that when you work as a day-care provider or housekeeper or dishwasher/cook at a restaurant... THOSE are PAID jobs. For some reason, when you choose to do it without pay for your own family, it's a kick-back lifestyle.
    Don't get me wrong - wouldn't trade it for the world... but it is so. not. as. easy. as. it. appears.
    In a month I will be a "true" WAHM - and I'm sure I'll feel even more defensive about "staying at home all day."
    But I'm proud of myself too. My linen closet has been cleaned out, my pantry reorganized and I have a HUGE pile of clothes to donate to charity... all done in the past 3 days. Go me.
    And Go You!!

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  71. She was pretty nervy to say that--and what you say is so true. It's hard for me to remember that the day job I've got it really more important than the other stuff I do. Thanks for the reminder.

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  72. Sitting here with Baby on breast in my spit up spotted tank top, typing with one hand, eating a bowl of soup and watching the toddler nearby...uhhh, yea and this is a calm moment. Waiting patiently for nap time so I can get a couple hours of 'work' in. I enjoy being a single wahm and am proud to be doing what I love, but it can't be said enough...we aren't sitting around eating bon bons all day;) Ooo..poo in diaper gotta run:D

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  73. Congratulations on your honorable mention. I bet the solicitor didn't know how one rude comment could inspire such good writing.

    Gilit

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  74. Oh, I'm so proud of you and this post. And, I am so jealous that you get paid to write and have 76 comments...I think I might go and make some choc chip cookies to make up for the difference in my blogging world.

    Congrats on your honorable mention. Loved the post. And lovin the thought of that sad sad door saleswoman...next time she should try a wonder woman costume :)

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  75. Wonderful post. You don't have to explain yourself to anyone. Congrats on your honorable mention at Scribbit.

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  76. That really was beautiful.
    It's so easy to think that everyone else's life is better than our own, don't you think?! I loved what you said about being happy for them making the great cookies-- and to send them your way. I feel like that too.

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