Any stay-at-home parent can tell you that taking care of kids all day, every day (and night), is a never-ending, exhausting, thankless task.

It may seem mysterious to others (even our spouse) as to what we actually do, and everyone seems to think they can voice their opinion about it.

Here are a few of my “favorite” phrases that are fair game to get the eyeroll of death. Spare us the agitation and just don’t, okie dokie?

1. What do you do all day?

Ah, the classic question! What do YOU think I do all day? Sip coffee while I sit on the porch and read a book? Okay, that one may be true in a single fleeting moment. But it’s in the context of frantically guzzling much-needed caffeine at the crack of dawn with an up-too-early toddler who demands to hear Little Red Tractor for the 200th time.

Then it’s a day full of butt-wiping, mess-cleaning, food-making, tantrum-tolerating, head-spinning madness that I can’t even explain to you in words. And that’s all before 9 a.m. After that I can’t even remember, but believe me, I don’t get any breaks – not even to pee alone.

2. I wish we could afford to do that.

Well, think about it. For a lot of people it actually costs more to have an outside job, considering the cost of daycare (which averages $972 per month per child in the U.S.). You could be working just to pay for childcare. Add in taxes and transportation costs and your net income might zero out or even be in the negative. And don’t forget about the many days you have to take off while kids are home sick – double whammy since you still have to pay for the day but likely don’t get paid yourself for missing work. Oh, and whoa, the stress of it!

So do the math. Is it even worth it? In my case, definitely not.

3. What’s your favorite daytime show?

Um…Paw Patrol?

Where does this idea that moms watch soap operas all day come from? I don’t even know what those are! The only TV time I get is snippets of cartoons on PBS and Nick Jr. I’ll have you know there’s like 20 hours of *my* shows yet to be watched on the DVR. As if I’ll ever get to them. I miss you, The Walking Dead. As my real-life role of mombie (mom + zombie) plays out.

4. What else do you do?

Uh, let’s see…hide in the chocolate to eat closet…er…hide in the CLOSET to eat CHOCOLATE. See, I can’t even think straight. Darn you, mommy brain!

Being at home doesn’t automatically mean you have time for hobbies or chosen pursuits. I don’t know what “free time” is anymore. I don’t even get a commute time to myself. If I do anything (like write this article), it’s at 5:30 a.m., for which the stars have to perfectly align, kids still be asleep, and the coffee go straight to my brain cells.

5. You’re so lucky.

Okay, I totally respect that another perspective would love to spend more time with their kids. But when you’re constantly up to your elbows in scattered toys, spilled food, whining, screaming, and poo, you kind of slowly go insane. Yes, I appreciate this time with my minions and I’m thankful, but I’m not going to guilt myself into enjoying every moment. Because most of the time, this is hard…SO hard!

I don’t get to take sick days when I desperately need them. I don’t have weekends off. I don’t get “me time.” I don’t know what a real conversation with an adult is like. I’m terrified of phone calls (cue for kids to have a yelling contest or cause an epic disaster). I understand some may enjoy having “company” at all times, but this is exhausting and ironically isolating.

6. It must be nice to not work.

Yep, I’m living the dream here. I feel fantastic about not putting my degree to good use. I especially enjoy not bringing home actual regular bill-paying money.

And you’re right, I don’t have “a job.” My 24/7 schedule is like…50 jobs. And I get paid in complaining and whining and tantrums and sleep deprivation. But look at all the money I’m saving us (see #2). That counts for something!

I guess I do get “paid” in hugs and kisses and random joyful moments (like when the kids are fast asleep). There are times that’ll give you all the feel-goods, I’ll admit. But it’s not long before those same innocent little arms are elbow deep in who knows what mess!

Whether you are a stay-at-home-mom, working mom, or not even a mom – respect the other side. Nobody has it easy! We all have to choose what’s best for our family.

Carry on, mommas!

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