Justice

One Woman's Letter to Stay-At-Home Moms

Ryshell Castleberry, a Florida-based tattoo artist, penned an emotional tribute to stay-at-home mothers via Facebook, which now has more than 300,000 shares and 637,000 likes.

Castleberry opened the post with an imagined conversation between a psychologist and a husband complaining about how his "wife does not work," only to end up listing all the many tasks that kept his wife — and stay-at-home moms around the world — busy throughout the day.

My wife does not workMy wife doesn't work!!!Conversation between a husband (H) and a psychologist (P):Q: what do you...

Posted by Ryshell Castleberry on Thursday, March 3, 2016

These tasks included waking up early to change diapers and clothes, breastfeeding, preparing food and meals, washing dishes, cleaning the house, taking the kids to school, going grocery shopping, helping the kids with homework — and then repeating this throughout the week and weekends.

"This is the daily routine of many women all over the world, it starts in the morning and continues until the wee hours of the night," Castleberry wrote. "This is called 'doesn't work'?! Being a housewife has no diplomas, but has a key role in family life! Enjoy and appreciate your wife, mother, grandma, aunt, sister, daughter... Because their sacrifice is priceless."

While Castleberry sharply criticized common attitudes about stay-at-home moms, not everyone found the post empowering. Those who took issue perceived the post as an insult to working mothers. One commenter complained working moms completed the same tasks at stay-at-home mothers, but with "8 hours less a day to do it all," said mom Gina Welker Palmateer.

Similarly, another mother named Debbie Saradin McKinney commented, "And there's those of us who do all that AND work."

Castleberry went on to defend her post by writing that anyone, whether a working mom or working dad, should be able to "read the message and replace the words with words that fit [their] situation." To Castleberry, the post was largely about recognizing the effort of people who are too often under appreciated.

Castleberry's post was made roughly a month following one Australian working mother's viral open letter to an Internet troll who told her to quit her job as a reporter if she missed her daughter. Susan Keogh defended her decision to work by dropping some knowledge.

"I got your message. The one you pointed out that if I miss my 4-year-old [sic] girl so much while I'm at work, then I should just give up my job. Or quit posting pictures of her, at the very least. How had I not though of that? So helpful. I work for many reasons. I like my job. It's really important to me. Not saving lives important, I get that, but it's important to me. I enjoy it. It makes me happy and content. As as a result, a better mom."

Mothers often have to make tough choices.

Keogh and Castleberry's social media posts highlight the contradictory standards society has for mothers, labeling working mothers as selfish and less dedicated but also shaming stay-at-home mothers as lazy. Now more than ever, all women face contradictory societal standards, encouraged to "have it all" — a career, a social life, a family — but also criticized for both devoting themselves to one single sphere or balancing the three. There are a many stereotypes about working moms, including misconceptions that they are unreliable, don't pay attention to their families, and look down on moms who decide to stay home with their children. Although stay-at-home dads are certainly a minority, they face the same stigma that stay-at-home moms do, and with added, negative societal constructs about masculinity and being the traditional "breadwinner."

One 2013 infographic by Salary.com found that stay-at-home moms, who work 94 hours per week — if you account for things like household chores, driving, homework — instead of the traditional 40 hour work week, would earn a $113, 586 annual salary if an hourly wage were assigned to all of the tasks they complete on a daily basis. While the point of Castleberry's post was hardly to argue for a wage for stay-at-home moms, she certainly wouldn't be the first to make the case.