I am going to start with a pretty harsh truth bomb. As a working mom, I judged stay-at-home moms (SAHM’s).
The judgement was completely jealousy-driven.
Let me explain. When I had my first baby, 8 years ago, I made the decision to go back to work full-time. I use the term “decision” in the loosest possible way. In reality, the decision felt already made for me.
I was fresh out of college with an expensive 6-year degree and a mortgage. I suppose my alternative option would have been to defer on my student loans and move in with my parents, but that didn’t feel right either.
Regardless, the first day – No, the first few years – after I returned from my seemingly 2 second long maternity leave felt like a painful blur.
Although I loved my career choice and job, leaving my baby each day felt as unnatural as going work naked. Fully naked. Cellulite bum, leaking boobs, and the rest out for the world to see.
In fact, if given the option, I would have rather went to work in my birthday suit than left my baby.
SAHM’s Must Live the Life
I envied SAHM’s almost instantaneously.
They got to wake up and cuddle their babies, while I had to rush mine out the door and head off to grind the day away at work.
They got to “nap when the baby napped” (though I later learned that was not their reality), while I had to chug coffee and sit through meetings.
They didn’t have the intense mom guilt over missing milestones or regular routines from getting held up at work.
All I could think about was how challenging it was to be a working mom, and how simple my life would be if I didn’t have to work.
When I would meet another mother who was a SAHM, I would instantly think how lucky she was and how unfortunate I was.
Overtime, my three kids got out of the baby stage. I got promoted to a job that I love, and that envy dissipated; however, I always still thought of a SAHM as an “easier” life situation.
Taste of the SAHM Life
I am sure SAHM’s wouldn’t have it any other way. They have the opportunity to focus so much on the most important thing in life, but what they may be hiding under their smiles is how freaking hard it is.
I can’t call myself a SAHM. However, recent world events have required me to work from home full time, with my children home.
In the short time I’ve spent in this temporarily situation, I had a swift slap in the face.
In fact, I want to drop to my knees and Waynes-World-We-Are-Not-Worthy every SAHM I know.
No matter what your life situation is, parenting comes with a host of challenges. Being a SAHM is by no means “easier” than being a working mom.
In fact, there are certain skill-sets that SAHM’s must possess, that I must commend.
How is it Possible?
My recent life changes opened my eyes to these four challenges that SAHM’s seem to overcome on a daily basis.
1) Ability to Manage a Household in a Time-warp
This morning, I woke up at 7am and brushed my teeth. That was the last clear detail I remember.
I think I must have gotten my three kids dressed, fed them breakfast, and brushed their teeth. Then, one needed a blue cup, the other needed their butt wiped.
Suddenly, I looked at the clock and it 11:35 am.
I recall trying to do this dishes, while one child yelled that I wasn’t playing with them enough.
Then, it was 5:15 pm and the chicken nuggets were burning.
No joke. That was my day.
The house is a mess. I feel like I accomplished nothing, and I feel like my kids are mad at me.
2) Can Enjoy Kids in the Chaos
Of course I enjoy my children, but when I am home with them all day, I have a hard time separating out work/housework time from kid-time.
My children want me to play with them, but my mind tells me I first have to do the dishes, then quickly unload the laundry before we play. Then I have an hour-long work call.
Even if a SAHM doesn’t have work-related duties per say, they have their own set of responsibilities that they must balance throughout the day.
I love to play with my kids, but I have a hard time enjoying the time we spend together when my to-do list is shading my vision.
3) The Motivation to Keep it Together
For the first few days of my temporary stay-at-home mom life, I felt like a rock star. We would read and color after lunch. I would have the kids clean their toys while I made dinner. They would be bathed and in bed by 8:30 pm.
Only three days in, my motivation sputtered out in a sad way.
I stopped battling them to clean their toys, because- hey, what’s the point. They were playing hide and seek until 10 pm. I felt like if I unloaded the dishwasher one more time I would collapse.
4) Work Without Breaks
At work, I get a lunch break and two other personal breaks. I can go on a walk with a friend, sit in my car, call my mom, or do just about anything.
At home, my kids wake me up at the crack of dawn. They don’t nap, heck- they don’t ever sit down. Then, I have to force them to bed late at night.
They try to sit on my lap while I am working.
They track me down if I try to leave simply to pee. They sit in the bathroom when I shower.
I never, ever, EVER get a break.
In the end, I wouldn’t change anything about my life. I have a new admiration for SAHM’s and a refreshed view of how much I enjoy my family and my job.
No “type” of parenting is easier or harder . They are all just different, and all deserve praise.
Throughout all of this, if there is one thing I learned above all else, it is that all mothers are masters of adjusting to anything life throws our way.
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