For stay-at-home-moms, every day is ‘Labor Day’

By Doug Powers

The end of labor is to gain leisure.

– Aristotle

Ari was obviously never a stay-at-home parent.

The philosopher was correct, however, at least pertaining to some people. At a restaurant, not too long ago, I overheard a conversation among three men. One of the men was asked where his wife was working. With his answer, I would soon find myself in full appreciation of one of the most important and difficult jobs on the planet – a job from which there is no respite, not even on Labor Day: the stay-at-home mom.

The man put down his Budweiser, finished chewing his chili dog smothered in onions, and answered the question of what his wife did with, “She don’t work. Stays home with the kids.”

My ears perked up. Besides horrendous English and breath that could have vaporized a Ft. Knox bank vault, this statement was brazen with a delusional self-importance of epic proportions. This poor guy’s wife is home trying to corral who knows how many kids, getting rid of the baby’s latest nauseating diaper deposit, burning her hand after forgetting that the iron she was pressing his chili-stained work shirts with is still plugged in, mainlining Folgers and trying to get Junior to stop jousting the dog with the toilet plunger.

Meanwhile, her husband sits in a bar, on his third beer at 11:45 in the morning, saying she doesn’t work?

I’ve spent many days in a row alone with my three kids, so I can attest to the fact that full-time parenting is a job that puts you under incredible pressure. The only other things that can possibly relate to being under that amount of constant stress are river dams and the waistband on Michael Moore’s shorts.

Kids also have a way of making you feel horribly uneducated. While in solitary confinement for a week, I was forced to admit an embarrassing fact several times over – I do not know why the sky is blue. They seemed to find humor in my lack of scientific knowledge. Not only do I not know why the sky is blue, but I also learned that I don’t know where God lives or exactly what causes thunder.

I don’t know how to start a fire with two sticks. I don’t know why we hiccup, if there’s life on other planets, or why dogs can’t talk. I also don’t know how to do long division – no kidding. And while we’re at it, I may as well tell you: I don’t know what keeps the sun burning, why, if the theory of evolution is true, there are still monkeys, and how come electricity can’t travel through rubber.

One thing I do know now is that it’s darn near impossible to slit your own wrist with a Daffy Duck Bobblehead.

In addition to the usual stress, some women must suffer the further indignity of listening to their husbands tell others that their wives “don’t work.” Reverse the equation and put a man under that kind of stress, then chastise him by saying he “doesn’t work,” and you’d see the top of every campus clock tower occupied by naked, heavily armed fathers demanding respect.

Most of us have jobs we deem as “important.” Some go off every day and sell widgets to the widgetless, some spend the day making burgers and fries, defending this great nation in the military, driving trucks, or topless dancing in a club to Joe Cocker’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On” while speaking loudly over the music, “Your usual table, Mr. Kennedy?” These are important jobs, but all still pale in comparison to the most important career in the world – trying to make sure the next generation isn’t exceedingly stupid due to lack of parental attention – and that is work!

Our culture has now, unfortunately, belly-flopped into the intellectually and emotionally stagnant waters of day care, latchkey kids and just plain no supervision whatsoever. That “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” tripe becomes even more nonsensical when you take into account the fact that a great deal of “the village” consists of helium-headed, directionless people who had the needle torn from their moral compass as children because their parents were dumb enough to rely on “the village” to raise their kids for them in the first place.

On this Labor Day and all the days surrounding, I salute you stay-at-home moms for bravely taking on a most daunting task – often with nary a “thank you” – and helping kids maintain good posture in what can be a morally invertebrate society.