It’s been about 10 months since I left my job and decided to stay home with the girls. It was always the plan that I’d work part-time to balance my need to function outside of yoga pants, and the lost corporate salary.
By sharing these truths, I hope to not stand alone for my own sanity, but for the sanity and hope for other moms out there who are either considering or reaffirming the choice for their own family.
Truth 1: Parenting roles get redefined.
Typically, with a two-income household, you have a secondary caregiver during the day, giving you and the hubs equal time and night and on the weekends. You still stand on equal ground with your kids and share the same experiences with them. Once you’re home, that shifts. As the SAHM, you take on a huge role when it comes to keeping the routine and discipline. I have flashbacks to when Liv was a baby and my skin would crawl when Nate would do something (like feed, dress or change her) differently than me. There’s a certain way “we” do things around here, you’re clearly on the outside of that, sir. It’s terribly unfair, and I try really hard not to do it (my success rate is yet to be determined.)
Truth 2: Marriage roles get defined too.
In the same breath as caring for the kids, household duties are also divided. Sure, I’m home and have more time to vacuum and do laundry, but I did not give up my paying job to be a nanny and a maid. I wanted to be a teacher, nurturer, and even, pursue some of my own passions (hello, blog and Etsy.) It may be frustrating for Nate to come home and find things “undone” but anyone who has cared for a child for a 8-10 hour period during daylight can attest, there’s not exactly “down time.” And depending on the true nature of your “staying home” the breadwinner role shifts, opening up the availability for potential overprotection of “my money/your money.” This means you need to talk, constantly. Be honest, constantly. And be open for change, constantly.
Truth 3: The lack of money sucks.
We were not wealthy to begin with, so losing my salary was a definite hit to our reality. Coupons and free-activities become a normal way of life. And that’s OK, but it is a hit to the ego not “keep up with the Jones.” It’s not important to care about what other people have or what they’re doing, but it’s also hard to ignore it. My kids are fed. We have a home and cable. Life is not destitute. But not going on vacations, or buying every little thing – those things are important, but you miss them when they’re gone. The same rules about talking and changing things to find balance needs to be a open topic on the table.
Truth 4: Staying home is lonely.
With that whole “no extra money” thing, it’s a lot of afternoons home, coloring and watching Disney and Pixar movies. Ladies-who-lunch just isn’t a reality. There are a million mom groups out there, but some of those women are downright bitchy. Mom-groups have an air about them, where they are either super welcoming or super clicky. I did not leave high school and gain career success, only to find myself back in the world of drama again. The truth is, I miss my work family. I miss interacting with the same people 5 days a week. I miss some friends that have drifted in the past year. There are certainly more things that I don’t miss that solidify my decision to stay home, but the fact remains that it’s not exactly a social endeavor. Try really hard to find a friend, even if it’s only one. There is another mom out there who is like you, who is lonely like you, who needs a friend, just like you.
Truth 5: Kids are brats, especially when you love them.
A teacher only accepts the peanuts they are paid yearly because they really, really love their job. And they’re good at it – it’s why we trust our children with them. Not everyone is cut out to be with kids full-time all the time, even parents. They are wild and demanding and challenging. They are also loving and smart and funny. The highs and lows are emotionally exhausting. Think to those first few weeks with your little bundle. So much love, so much joy. So many tears, sleepless nights, worries and fears that you were mucking everything up. I’m afraid those highs and lows return once you decide to stay home. Many days will feel like an ultimate failure and the moment dad walks in the door, you tap out to go cry in the bathroom (if you can make it that long.) The good news I have is you were able to survive it once; odds are in your favor you can pull through again.
Truth 6: You don’t get a crown for staying home.
There are no rewards for mom’s that are home with their kids. You don’t get a salary or benefits, but neither do moms who work outside the home either. What I mean to say is staying home is awesome, but it doesn’t make you super special. A mom is a mom. Some want to work. Some have to work. Every single mother HAS to be a mom. Don’t forget that being a mom, in any form, is a blessing and a hardship. It is not for the faint of heart and it will be the best and hardest job you ever have. You will learn to love and sacrifice and laugh and cry like you’ve never imagined possible. The guilt of success or failure escapes none of us, and somehow, our kids miraculous end up unscathed.