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To be sick of people saying they 'have' to go back to work and that I am 'lucky'

(222 Posts)
Neverenoughcake Fri 28-Jun-13 15:20:32

Sorry this is a bit if a rant but I have to get it off my chest. I've lost count of the number of other Mums I've now met who are complaining about 'having' to go back to work because they can't afford not to, and for them to tell me in the next breath how 'lucky' I am that I haven't had to go back to work.

I am at a loss what to say as I know that for at least 3 of the people who have said this to me lately they have more than 3 nice holidays a year, one has just bought a very expensive new car (there was nothing wrong with her other one) and one always has a new outfit on whenever I see her. I drive a really old car and can't remember the last time I went clothes shopping and have one holiday a year with my family, but thats my choice and i'm happy with it. Don't they get that almost no one has the spare cash just to not go back to work without making some significant changes/sacrifices and it isn't down to luck?? I honestly don't care if people choose to return to work or not, totally up to them and so please don't turn this into a stay at home vs working parent debate! I just really wish people would be honest and say I want to go back to work so I can maintain my current lifestyle, that is just fine. Please help, I want to know what to say to these people when they complain they hate their jobs but have to go and that it's alright for me I'm so lucky. Don't want to be rude to them but I'm getting fed up with hearing the moaning!

MaryKatharine Fri 28-Jun-13 15:44:27

Cazboldy, but often there is little choice if you want any sort of career in the long term. If you work in IT for example, taking even 2yrs out could mean the end of your career.

cazboldy Fri 28-Jun-13 15:44:39

why should she agree she is lucky? There is no "luck" involved!

BrianButterfield Fri 28-Jun-13 15:45:03

We need me to work a bit to pay all the bills. However, I earn more than we 'need', so yes, the rest goes on some luxuries (which I feel are well-deserved). Do I feel people at home all the time are lucky? Hell yeah, when I'm dragging my pregnant self to work at 7.30 every morning, I would feel crazily lucky not to be doing that. It doesn't mean I only work to get luxuries though, or that by cutting those out we'd be able to live on one salary, because I could not buy new clothes for a year and we still wouldn't be paying all the bills on one salary.

Trills Fri 28-Jun-13 15:45:23

You are lucky to have the choice.

People very often mistake "you are lucky" for "this is all down to luck and there was no contribution from making good choices or working hard".

The point is that with almost everything in life, even if you do work hard and make clever choices, luck is still a factor, and you should count your blessings if the world has set things up such that you can take advantage of it.

As has already been said, some people's jobs and household setups are very all-or-nothing.

No job - can't pay the bills, lose house.

With job - job pays well, plenty of nice things.

No option to do part-time (and so get enough money to pay the bills but also be home some of the time).

ilovechips Fri 28-Jun-13 15:45:55

I get bloody annoyed with people commenting either way - I don't ask for their opinion - I don't give uninvited opinion on their choices so I don't expect unsolicited opinions on mine either. I couldn't care less what they think but wish they wouldn't assume I did by passing comment! Whether I choose to stay home or go out to work is a decision we have decided together as a family and has nothing to do with anyone else! (Steps off soapbox...)

cazboldy Fri 28-Jun-13 15:46:21

it's hard to discuss this without sweeping generalisations, and of course everyone's circumstances, career choices etc are different.

MaryKatharine Fri 28-Jun-13 15:46:48

She is lucky to have the choice. That's not the sand as saying she is lucky to be at home. Of course she is lucky to have the choice!

TheToysAreALIVEITellThee Fri 28-Jun-13 15:48:05

But but but you ARE lucky. I don't have hols, nice car etc and I still have to work.

redmayneslips Fri 28-Jun-13 15:48:50

I get what you are saying OP, when our dc was tiny we made a decision that I would stay at home with her. Mine was the regular, steady income at that stage but it was something that was really important to me and was never really up for debate. DH is self employed in a precarious sector but he really upped the ante and we made lots of cutbacks in many areas and got on with it and never once regretted it (well....apart from when I used to press my nose up the shop windows tiny tim style when the sales etc were on or if I fancied something new).

BUT at the same time as I was doing this, the woman my mum works for also had a baby and went back to work when her baby was 4 weeks old. This woman is a professional with her own business and her husband works. They are wealthy. Yet my mum was forever telling me how xxxx 'had' to go back to work and how awful it was for her. It used to really wind me up (when I was tired and hormonal) as i KNEW that if I could stay at home, she definitely could, but she clearly didn't want to .Which is perfectly fine. Just stop playing the martyr. Grrr. Anyway.

I had LOADS of people tell me it was 'fine for me' but they couldn't afford it, when I knew they most likely could but chose not to, which is different.

Snowgirl1 Fri 28-Jun-13 15:49:17

I'm in the same situation as babyheave. I'm the main breadwinner and if I hadn't gone back to work we wouldn't have been able to pay the mortgage, but because I have gone back to work we can not only afford to pay the mortgage, but can also afford holidays etc.

You are lucky that you had a choice.

nenevomito Fri 28-Jun-13 15:49:42

cazboldy as stated, there's not always a choice.

Well, I could have chosen to marry someone who earned more than me so our finances weren't reliant on my working to pay the bills.

and yes, it is smug to believe that women could stay at home if they just tried a bit harder and made a few more sacrifices.

Well, I think sacrificing a roof over my families head, while possible, would be a little foolish.

redskyatnight Fri 28-Jun-13 15:50:20

We can afford holidays abroad as I work.
But we can't afford for me not to work.

Your argument only works if the person's income is used solely to purchase luxuries.

Neverenoughcake Fri 28-Jun-13 15:51:03

Thank you all, I probably should've been clearer that the main 3 people I am referring to in my rant are friends so I do have a good idea of their financial situations - they seem to talk about little else sometimes - and yes one does run her life on credit, I guess her choice but on my mind madness, but the other 2 aren't in that position. Maybe what I'm more disappointed in is how much they all talk about money and maybe just questioning these friendships more and more. I am indeed lucky but I also spent years saving like mad to fund this time at home, which is short term, and i was happy to do that but perhaps feel no one credits you for financial planning do they? So yes I am probably taking this all way too personally and I'd reiterate this is not about those who genuinely need and want to go back to work.

AThingInYourLife Fri 28-Jun-13 15:51:10

"There's an element of smugness in your post that, look, you are making sacrifices to stay at home with your children, while other women put cars and holidays first."

I don't get that at all.

But then I don't think there's anything wrong with working so you can bring your kids on cool holidays and always have the money for expensive essentials like cars.

Both choices involve sacrifices, both bring benefits.

If you're making a choice, you're lucky.

I think there can be a reluctance for women to own the fact that they choose to work.

I went back to work when DD1 was 3.5 months old. My mother kept going on about how terrible it was that I had to go back to work. hmm grin

Even though I was always quite open about the fact that it was my choice, and I could have chosen otherwise.

FasterStronger Fri 28-Jun-13 15:51:17

oh goodie - just what we need, another thread about women working to maintain their lifestyle and buy expensive handbags.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Fri 28-Jun-13 15:51:39

I'm not sure what you would prefer to hear.

"It's great you can stay at home with your kids, you've clearly made a lot of sacrifices." This could come across as good god woman when did you last buy a new top / cut your hair / put makeup on.

ArbitraryUsername Fri 28-Jun-13 15:53:28

I didn't have any choice. I had to go back to work as soon as I'd exhausted my enhanced maternity pay and annual leave, because my income was supporting the entire family and we couldn't have afforded our rent (never mind anything else) on SMP. We were comfortable enough on just my income (so could eat out and do stuff, etc) but without it we'd've been utterly screwed.

aldiwhore Fri 28-Jun-13 15:54:15

Your response... whether you're a working mum or a stay at home mum, or not a Mum, or run your own business, or work for someone else etc,. should usually be "Yes. I AM lucky aren't I?"

No point being angry.

YANBU to feel annoyed when people feel the need to tell you what you are or how you should feel.

The only reason I think YABU is it wasn't necessary to give as many reasons why they're lucky too, it didn't add any value. YANBU to feel annoyed with people's comments, end of subject. (Though I grant you it would make for a short OP).

LazyMonkeyButler Fri 28-Jun-13 15:59:06

Certainly some people have a choice although some people don't.

I don't think the "they might be poor but living on credit" argument is actually that relevant though, if the things they have on credit are new cars & the like. It is a choice to buy extravagant non-essential things (multiple holidays, new cars etc) on credit and obviously, if someone makes that choice then they must know they will also have to work to pay for it. What I am trying to say is that someone who is going back to work to pay for a new car & next years' three holidays - even if they are on credit cards - is not returning to work because they absolutely have to, but because they want to have nice/more things. Which is fine, entirely their choice & of no concern to me BUT it doesn't make them any less lucky than OP.

Households where both parents need to work to cover the basic mortgage/rent, food, gas/electricity etc. are a different matter (we fit into this category by the way). However, that is not the situation OP is describing.

SsimTee Fri 28-Jun-13 16:00:29

Lucky? Luck has got f**ck all to do with. It used to wind me up as well when people used to tell me I was lucky to be able to stay at home. Not anymore. I tell people point blank that I am able to stay at home, because I have worked my arse off and saved all my life, and so has my husband. Neither of us was born with money, whatever we've got is through hard work, sacrifice and saving. Nobody is stopping other people following our example. This usually shuts them up and gives them some thinking to do. I'm fed up of apologising for having the common sense to save so I don't have to work all my life

Jinsei Fri 28-Jun-13 16:01:12

Hmm, well I had to go back to work because I'm the main breadwinner and we couldn't have paid our mortgage if I hadn't done so. However, I'm a relatively high earner, and so we are able to afford some nice holidays as well.

As it happens, I wanted to go back anyway but I can understand how it's possible to feel that you have no choice while simultaneously being able to afford nice things.

DH could have SAH if he had wanted to (and did for a year or so) but it wasn't really an option for me.

WhatWillSantaBring Fri 28-Jun-13 16:03:06

The flip side of this is: Don't say to a woman who has "chosen" to go back to work how lucky they are to be able to afford (for example) holidays or moan about how they cannot.

I have been wildly jealous of the women I know who I feel "had" a choice to stay at home, but then someone recently (on MN? In the papers?) pointed out that each and everyone of us who is working out of the home had that choice about whether to stay at home. We could (if we wanted to) choose not to live in a home that we own, and choose to live teetering on the brink of (or in) poverty but we have chosen not to. That really made me think. The reason I "had" to go back to work is because I have been lucky enough to choose to buy a house with a mortgage that means I have to work. Its a choice I made freely and willingly, so I try really hard not to feel jealous of my SAHM or part time mum friends.

But three of my SAHM friends bleat on constantly about how they can't afford a holiday this year, when I know what they could be earning if they worked full time, so I know its affordable (v child care costs) so I have very little time for those complaints.

MeMyHusbandAndTheRoofer Fri 28-Jun-13 16:03:54

Do you not realise OP that you are lucky?

I am 7 months pregnant and have no choice but to go back to work as my husband's salary does not cover our bills, food and petrol. I already make sure we have the cheapest utilities etc so cannot cut back our bills.

The only things you could possibly consider luxuries within our bills are virgin TV (although a low package) with internet and our dog! And frankly, I'm not getting rid of him, what he gives me in cuddles is priceless. grin

In order to get the additional money to cover the outgoings I will have to work - we will therefore have to pay childcare so in order to have enough money to cover the outgoings and the childcare, I will have to work full time. Yes, this will give us a bit of spare money so we may have a little to spend but that doesn't mean I have any option but to go back to work. In fact, as I'm self employed I'm going to be going back a lot sooner than I would like sad

To be honest, I don't think I want to be a full time SAHM, (would prefer part time) although who knows how I will feel once baby arrives, I would just like to have the option and can't help but be a bit envious of those who do have that choice.

If you have the option then you are lucky.

Marcheline Fri 28-Jun-13 16:04:47

Have you ever thought that maybe the other women don't really give a shit about whether you work or not, they are just trying to have a conversation?

I find it really difficult trying to get past 'small talk' with other mums, because we see each other for an hour or so a week at a bloody group where all we have to start with is the fact that we have children of similar ages. The sales lines get trotted out over and over again, while we try to work out whether we hve other things in common while trying not to offend anyone. It's bloody hard, but it has to be done. We moved to a new place soon after DD1 was born and I just want to has a few friends.

I would hate to think that something I said while just trying to make friendly conversation, had offended some

FasterStronger Fri 28-Jun-13 16:06:44

marcheline - your post says it all.

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