I recently ran into an old coworker at the grocery store. The last time I'd seen her I was six months pregnant and she was leaving our organization after having landed some version of her dream job. Now my thirteen-month-old peered up at her from behind my legs.
"Is this your daughter?" she asked.
"It sure is," I said.
She gave the requisite compliments. I asked about her job and she gave me a brief summary of its pros and cons.
"Where are you working now?" she asked.
"I'm still home with this one," I said.
"Wow," she said. "That must be nice."
If you ever want to watch me struggle against my temper, say something to this effect. A common variation:
"You are so lucky to be able to stay home with your baby!"
In fact, my partner and I have made and continue to make a number of very large sacrifices - financial, professional, artistic, and emotional - so that one of us can always be with our daughter. It's a constant struggle that we've prioritized from the beginning. As well as being the best thing I've ever done, it's by far the hardest for a million different reasons.
Let's just say it's a lot of things, but it's certainly not nice. And although I realize there are many people who can't stay home with their small children no matter how much they want to and no matter which way they rearrange their lives, these are never the folks who call me lucky. Luck has a part to play in everyone's life, yes, but I promise you that's an entirely different conversation than the one being rudely, wrongly, and self-servingly assumed in these instances.