Do you like being a stay at home mom?
I’ve gotten that question a lot since I made the decision over a year ago to stay at home with our two kids and I’ve never quite mastered a succinct and genuine response. What I really want to say is so word vomit-y that the person asking would probably start to back away slowly from the crazy lady before breaking into a dead sprint. And if I’m being honest, the answer varies depending on the mood you catch me in or rather, the type of day I’m having/had with my kids.
Staying at home has been so many things:
It is going from never needing to drink coffee to having a morning AND an afternoon coffee most days.
It is counting down the hours, the minutes, the seconds until bedtime. Then feeling a nagging gnawing guilt as you close their bedroom doors that you didn’t love them enough. Weren’t patient enough. You were too mean. You yelled a lot. You did nothing of educational value with them today. Your toddler’s main source of nutrition was Cheez-its and fruit snacks.
It is saying tomorrow you’ll have more patience. You’ll try harder. But then someone wakes up one, two, three times at night. Your battery did not fully recharge as you sigh loudly and make the all too familiar walk in the dark to room #1 or room #2.
It is retreating into yourself, numb to the noise of the two children sobbing hysterically on your lap for reasons unbeknownst to you until you feel like you may join them at their unGodly decibel.
It is sitting in the basement with the monitor turned all the way down because the naps you fought so hard to get them to take were not long enough and all you need is five more minutes to yourself.
It is an exercise in repetitive madness as you literally clean up the exact same mess day after day making it impossible to clean anything else.
It is closing your eyes and taking a deep breath when your toddler hits the hardwood floor with a dramatic wail over the fact that you turned off the faucet when OF COURSE YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT HE WANTED TO DO IT, MOM!
It is asking yourself “is this baby ever happy?” because you’re pretty sure all she did for 90% of her waking hours is cling to you and cry if you dare put her down to do one of the million things that fall to the wayside every day.
It is being blasted with articles on child-rearing daily and realizing that you aren’t the mother you thought you would be and life is becoming a series of compromises with yourself because you don’t have the energy to parent any other way but survival mode.
It is constant self-doubt as you wonder whether this is the right choice. The best choice. For the kids. For your husband. For you.
It is all of this always. Literally 24-7. Because even on the weekends most times only mommy will do.
Being a SAHM is a daily roller coaster of emotion (mine and the kids) that I admittedly don’t handle as well as I think I should. I see / hear other moms: they love this job. There is nothing else that they would rather be doing. Staying at home with their children is so rewarding. They reply enthusiastically, without pause, they “yes, they love it!” when asked whether they like staying a home.
Ugh. That isn’t me. Mothering two small children doesn’t feel very rewarding. It often feels thankless and draining. Sometimes I picture myself as Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada only my kids are much cuter than Meryl Streep’s Miranda. Also, I don’t have any designer labels in my closet. Every day all day is an exercise in going to ridiculous lengths to abandon my needs and general well-being to fulfill those of my children. It can crush you some days.
My kids get my best. They also get my worst and everything else in between. My husband gets the little that is left after a long day. And me? Well, I get a 10-minute shower most mornings where the roar of the water and exhaust fan are loud enough to drown out any other noise. Unless someone pulls back the shower curtain to say “Mommy, what you DOING?”
Being the mom, the chef, the diaper changer, the butt wiper, the entertainer, the grocery shopper, the toddler negotiator, the disciplinarian, the housekeeper, the builder of the train tracks, the singer of the songs, the holder/pick me upper, the bath giver, the tooth brusher, the bedtime story reader, the meeting of all the demands ALL THE TIME is exhausting. And relentless. And it’s hard. So hard. The hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But you should feel so grateful for this time with your children. Not many people are in your position.
Yes. I know. Add it onto my pile of ever-growing guilt. Even on my bad days, the days where I say I’m going to start looking for a job again because it doesn’t feel good for me, for the kids, or our household for me to continue staying home. When the monotony and the loneliness overwhlems you and you wonder if you’re the only one feeling this way, I am still grateful. I am grateful to have a husband that works as hard as he does and gives me this time. This fleeting, exhausting, wonderful, and trying time.
For staying at home is also the best. There are easy days. The rare ones. Where everything is clicking and you feel like you’re totally nailing this mom thing. The kids play nicely together and – gasp – entertain themselves for a while. The naps are long and easy, meals are eaten with relatively little coaxing, bedtime is full of sweet snuggles and kisses. Maybe there’s a nice activity where their behavior is as perfect as the weather. These are the days where it feels like the best job in the world and your heart is literally bursting with love and gratitude at being able to stay home with them.
For sleep or no sleep, I’ve had an amazing opportunity to watch our daughter grow day by day and witness her conquering milestone after milestone. AJR is a nut and most days, despite the baggage that comes with raising a toddler, I love it. I love being his best friend while it’s not creepy or weird. I love being able to dole out kisses and cuddles whenever I want. I love being the keeper of my children’s stories and telling them with flourish to my husband during a dinner that maybe I had time to make or more than likely he picked up on his way home. I take photos throughout the day because they are turds but man, they are super cute turds. It also serves as a reminder to myself to keep a little perspective. One day the fact that both kids screamed the entire way to the farm will completely fade and I’ll only remember their apple cider donut-smeared smiles as they took a ride on the bumpy tractor.
Okay, so after this word vomit-y post that you potentially stopped reading, do I actually like staying at home?
The answer isn’t yes or no, it’s I wouldn’t change it. Not only because I’m holding out for when both kids are in school, because believe me I fantasize about that almost daily. But because I love my children. Fiercely. Unconditionally. Completely. That never wavers even if my patience does. That is in no way saying that moms that work don’t love their kids, because why would anyone ever think something so utterly ridiculous? It’s simply to say that for me, it’s my love for them and being around them that fuels me to mom another day. I’ve been both a working mom and a SAHM, but now that I’ve experienced this, it’s hard to picture going back. That doesn’t mean I won’t be frustrated, that I won’t complain, or that I won’t continue to write about how motherhood is well, a mother. It just means that for better or for worse, for giggles or for tantrums, I am here to stay.