I worked for the entire first year of big brother’s life. A few weeks before his first birthday my husband and I did the math and realized that childcare for two children was going to cost more than my non-profit job was bringing in (I was a few months pregnant with little brother at the time). My husband happened to get a raise around the same time, and everything fell into place for me to finally be home with my kid- something I’d never imagined I’d want to do until I became a mom. (I mean, how did women not go crazy just sitting at home watching their babies play all day?!)
Being a working mom was nearly impossible for me. My husband and I were both exhausted all the time. All we did was work, come home, and sleep. It felt like we were always playing catch-up (with each other, on errands, on home projects, on breathing). There weren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. If we were responsible about cleaning and cooking, it felt like we were missing out on valuable time with our kid. If we took the time to take care of ourselves, we were either missing out on valueable time with our kid or we were missing out on SLEEP. I know that so many families thrive when both parents are working, but I was miserable. I loved my job, but I desperately wanted to experience being a stay at home mom (the grass is always greener!).
I remember my last day of work, the last day I had to miss my kid, the last day I had to read about his day on a sheet of paper or see pictures of his new developmental milestone. (He went to a fantastic daycare, but nothing quite replaces experiencing your child’s firsts.)
I thought that staying home would fix everything. I was mistaken- big time! It did, however, fix the biggest thing, my outlook on our situation. Staying home with big brother didn’t make everything easier (what?!). It didn’t magically make the days more productive, or give me more time to focus on my marriage or our home.
What it did was teach me that I was always a victim of whatever situation I was in. I’d chosen not to be happy at work (even though I loved my job, and I was really good at it), and I had slowly begun to chose not to be happy with staying home. I loved seeing my kid grow! I loved teaching him and playing with him. I loved going to places like the museum and the grocery store, but I felt so inadequate! I felt like a quitter who had given up. Why could so many other moms have successful careers and be well-rounded moms?
When I was working I felt like I didn’t do enough at home, and when I was home I felt like I didn’t work hard enough. The house was still never clean (and it still isn’t!). Errands we’re still never done. Home projects never seemed completed. And I’d go long stretches without remembering to take a deep breath.
I was just as exhausted as a stay at home mom as I’d been when I was working full time. I grew to resent the fact that my husband had regular conversations with people who didn’t spit up on him.
I remember waking up one morning after a particularly difficult teething day and thinking, ‘ugh! This kid is the worst! I wish I could just give him to someone for the day!’ I immediately felt guilty and burst into tears. I think it was probably the first time that I told my husband how exhausted and lonely I felt at home.
After that I realized that I had to make some changes. My environment didn’t need to change- I did! I was unhappy because I’d forgotten to be grateful. I was unhappy because I couldn’t see past the guilt and exhaustion. I couldn’t see the things that I did have because I was so focused on what I didn’t have. When the newness of staying home wore off I got bored.
Everyday I worry that I don’t do enough. I don’t make money. I don’t cook enough. I can clean all day and the house still looks like a tornado hit it. I still haven’t folded the ever growing pile of laundry.
So what do I do all day? I play. I teach. I rejoice with my boys. I cry with them. I discipline. I run earrands (Wich is no easy task with two little boys). And if they nap (big ‘if’ these days) I take a much needed break so that I can repeat it all when they wake up.
There are definitely moms who do it all, and they do it all well! I know my limits, and I am not one of those moms. Not yet anyway.
Big brother and little brother will have a sister in a couple of months. We will have had three kids in less than four years. My husband and I have given in to the fact that our home will be a mess for the next few years, and I’m choosing to be okay with it.
Being a stay at home mom has given me the space to learn about myself. It has taught me so much about patience. It has allowed me to give myself grace. It has equipped me with valueable skills like resilience, persistence, and gratitude.
Staying at home or not staying at home says nothing about a person’s character or even what they value. Any mom can do either and still be miserable. I think that most moms love their children unwaveringly, whether they’re home all day with them, or working to provide for them.
I wish I had some new, significant lesson to share with you, but you’ve all heard this a million times…
Being a present parent is hard, no matter how you do it. Loving someone, letting them depend on you, and trusting yourself to be up to the task is draining and exhausting! Don’t add to it by caring about other people’s expectations.
Do what is best for you and your family! If you’re a momma (or daddy) who is happier and healthier when working, then work! If you have to work to afford to pay your bills, then work! If you’re desperately unhappy in your situation, Im so sorry, and I can relate. We we’re fortunate that our situation changed, but the change didn’t fix everything. Being home isn’t what I thought it would be, but I’m so glad that it’s my reality for now.
Babbling over. You do you, boo 😆