Disclaimer: While I often try to keep things positive around here, this post is an exception. I want you to really get to know me as a mother and that includes the good, the bad and the ugly.
Why does no one really tell you how hard it is to be a stay at home mom? Why does no one recognize that it is actually one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever do? Instead, I find myself feeling guilty when people say, “You’re so lucky you get to stay home with your baby all day!” or “You still aren’t working?”. Or jealous of people who get to focus on something other than their baby for some part of the day. Sometimes I feel lazy when I’m still in bed in the morning when my husband leaves for work or even lazier when he comes home and the house is more of a disaster than when he left. From day 1, I have been struggling with a lot of negative feelings about being home all day.
Being a mother changes your life in such a drastic way. You put the needs of this little life before yours in a heartbeat. Your body is no longer just yours. Your social life is no longer the same. The relationship with your significant other is tested and will probably experience some change. Say bye-bye to uninterrupted sleep and hello to sleep deprivation. Now throw in some isolation and a career loss by choosing to be a stay at home mom. Mix all of that with some crazy postpartum hormones and you’ve got yourself quite a show.
When I was pregnant, a large part of me knew I wanted to stay home with the baby. Another part of me was terrified of that idea. I went back and forth about quitting my job. I felt like I was giving up on everything that I just put so much sweat, tears, and quite frankly, money into, in the form of 2 college degrees. I liked teaching nutrition education, I loved teaching in schools, and I loved meeting new people all of the time.
I looked at different child care options before the baby was born and that was so overwhelming for me. We were looking at around $800 for quality child care a month and with my 45 minute commute to work, what I would be bringing home would not be worth it to me. I wasn’t ready to send my 3 month old baby to daycare and financially, it made the most sense for me to stay home with her. If I had a family member who could look after her, I would have went back to work. Occasionally, I start to apply for a job and half way through the application I chicken out. I think I am just going to have to start my own business. Stay tuned.
Not contributing financially was the first wave of major meltdowns. Going from two incomes to one, with a baby, was quite a change. And then three months in, my husband’s car crapped out and we were left with one car and have been since then. I am notorious for bottling everything up and then having a complete melt down about something stupid, like when I couldn’t find a nice shirt to wear out to dinner (that I could get my boobs out of – a whole other issue), and I didn’t have my own money to buy new clothes. My husband says over and over that it is “our” money, and I know that, but it is just not the same.
My second wave of major melt downs was about being trapped in the house all of the time with an infant that was not content except when she was attached to me. I was hungry a lot of the time because I was trapped on the couch nursing, I couldn’t get anything done around the house and I was exhausted by the end of the day but I hadn’t done “anything”. This has gotten a little better lately – but I am still clueless as to what people do with their infants all day! Besides constantly taking something away she’s not supposed to have, or moving her out from underneath the couch once shes rolled under there, or picking the same toy up off the floor 27 times after she’s dropped it. I’m sure this will get better once stupid winter is over and we can get outside! Plus as she gets older she will be able to do more things, so I am looking forward to that. When people ask what I do all day, I now say “I keep the baby alive.”
The most recent wave of meltdowns has been about never getting a break. I can’t even remember the last time I was away from Evelyn? I also can’t even remember the last time I talked to someone that wasn’t someone in my family. No wonder I’m going crazy. She has been waking up three or four times throughout the night lately and refuses to take a bottle, so I am the one that has to wake up and take care of her. She has also been extremely clingy as of late, so when I walk away, she cries. When Daddy tries to calm her down, she cries. I want to be there for her, but it’s getting to be quite tiring! It’s hard to leave her for an extended period of time because she is still getting most of her nutrition from breast milk and I don’t have much of an extra supply. I think this mommy needs a mommy’s day out and Daddy needs some daddy daughter time soon!
I never anticipated being a stay at home mom would make me such an emotional wreck. But it is hard. Mentally it is hard. But it is also rewarding. I get to spend all of that time with my little girl. I suppose, this is what people are referring to as “the lucky part”. I wouldn’t use the word lucky though, as there is a lot of sacrificing involved and my husband and I have both worked hard to get to where we are, but I am grateful. I’m grateful my husband has a great job that can support us and I’m grateful that he is supportive and understanding even when I’m being a total crazy or having a meltdown because he put the bowl away in the wrong cupboard again for the 5th time. I miss the pay check, but I love those smiles and those giggles and even her cries from the crib when she yells out over and over “Mama, Mama, Mama!” because I am there for it all and I am there for her, for better or for worse.
So if you think being a stay at home mom means cuddles and play dates, binge watching your favorite TV show, an infinite amount of time to get things done around the house, naps and sleeping in, you are surely mistaking. We have our good days and we have our bad. Some days we dance around the house and some days I lock myself in the bathroom with a bag of chocolate. Being a mother is no easy task whether you work full time or you are at home all day. We all just do what is best for our babies and that is really all we can do.
Maybe someday when we reach the other side – I will be able to write one of those blog posts I’ve been reading by other bloggers about how to stay sane as a stay at home mom. Sorry, but unfortunately that won’t be anytime soon!