“Oh, you’re so lucky to be able to stay home all day!”
“I wish I could stay at home like you so I can sleep in.”
“I’m so jealous that you can just play all day with the kids!”
Do these sound familiar? As a stay-at-home mom of three kids (an 8 year old tween, and 2 under 2) , or a ‘homemaker’ (as some like to call it), I’ve definitely heard my fair share of these comments. When it comes to parenting, everyone has an opinion. And when it comes to stay-at-home mums, everyone NEEDS to give their opinion. Whilst I know most of the time, these comments are meant with the best of intentions, they do make me sad, underappreciated, and misunderstood.
Why is being a stay-at-home mom so hard?
Being a mom who loves my kids is the easy part, but being a stay-at-home mom is the hard part. It is a job that doesn’t require a degree, but you have to act as a doctor, a teacher, a leader, a friend, and a clown (one with a messy bun and clothes that need a change). With all of these roles, it makes me wonder why we don’t get free life insurance for stay-at-home parents.
Let me share some of the things that have been challenging for me as a stay-at-home parent:
Constantly feeling like I am working out
Are you feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck today (or every day)? Yeah, me too. Because this job is some hard work – it’s not just about the emotional roller coasters we go through, it’s also extremely physically demanding. Have you ever tried to chase after a toddler with greasy hands while carrying a screaming baby who needs milk NOW? Trust me, it’s a workout. And don’t even get me started on the never-ending household chores. Cleaning, meal prep, nap time prep (yes, you need to prep them mentally for that stuff), laundry (oh, the laundry – I’m convinced that it can multiply on its own)… it’s a never-ending cycle. Wiping off fingerprints in the window while dancing to “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is another fun workout.
Feeling lonely (while wanting alone time)
Some days, I am silently screaming for adult interaction (I would love to scream out loud too, my kids are screaming all day anyway, right?). Any interaction that doesn’t involve singing “The Wheels on the Bus” or negotiating with a grumpy toddler about why he cannot play with kitchen knives would be appreciated. I want to go out and party with my girlfriends (and pretend that I can still stay awake past midnight). I want to be able to just pack a suitcase and go on a trip to wherever I want, whenever I want.
Comments, opinions, and advice – these are the three things that get on my nerves. I get really sensitive when I get questioned. The most difficult thing is that people don’t acknowledge the things I’m doing, but they judge on things that they think I’m not doing. But there is just so much that they don’t see. They don’t see it when I hold my baby all day just because that is what she needs right now. They don’t see it when I power through the day with only coffee (not your fancy Starbucks kind, but the kind that gets forgotten, and turns cold.). I try my best every day and put my own needs on the back burner. And no, I really don’t get the applause I deserve.
Feeling like I’ve lost my identity
Some days I don’t know who I am anymore (a woman who uses baby wipes for EVERYTHING?). It can be so easy to get caught up in the daily routine of caring for kids and managing the household, and before you know it, months or even years have gone by and you feel like you’ve lost touch with your own interests and passions.
But why I would still choose to be a stay-at-home parent?
Okay, yes, enough about the “not so fancy’ parts of being a homemaker, let’s talk about the benefits of being a stay-at-home parent, and why I actually know I am truly blessed.
Having A LOT of quality time with my kids
I get to be with them all the time. I get to kiss Boo Boos, I get to snuggle with them, I get to read to them, I get to do everything with them (even my own toilet break). Being able to witness my baby’s first laugh, first roll, first steps are the moments in my life that can’t be replaced. I cannot begin to tell you how much joy I feel when I see them grow to be just a bit more closer to independence everyday. I think this reason alone already outweighs all the cons.
Having the luxury of being flexible and spontaneous
I am not a big fan of scheduling, but with little kids in the game, you know you need to at least have some things that are in control (or at least they have the right shoe on the right foot). I love being able to plan my day around the needs of my kids. I can take my kids to appointments, take them to play-dates, explore with them at the park whenever we feel like, and be there for them when they need me (every second of the day).
You can always go back to work, but you can never get this back
I am happy to know that I will always look back on this time and know that I was there for my kids every step of the way. Maybe they won’t remember, but I will remember the times when they secretly picked roses from Auntie Jean’s garden for me. The times when we all snuggled up together and listened to raindrops splashing on our roof. The times when their faces lit up when they took their first steps towards my open arms (and little happy tears welled up in my eyes). I do miss the days when I could invest all my time into building my career, but I realised that the only role that cannot be replaced in this world is being my children’s mummy.
Sometimes I ask myself, are stay-at-home parents happier than working parents? Maybe, and maybe not. This is a question that we can’t answer. Motherhood is different for everyone and there should never be a right or wrong kind of answer. But I know what makes me happy. Being with my children gives me tremendous joy. It is knowing that my kids will grow to know that their mum didn’t take the easy way out. They will know that I didn’t care about anyone else’s opinions of what kind of mum I am. That I only cared about their hearts and that’s how I parented them.
If you ever feel overwhelmed, tired, lonely, touched out, and like you are falling apart, it’s okay. We all feel like that some days. But mamas, know that you are so enough, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Your love is so strong and unconditional, and that is the most powerful part of you, and all your children need.
So, for now, I am a stay-at-home mom, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in this world. As a stay-at-home mom, I am my children’s safety and comfort, their teacher, and most of all, their whole world. While I know this precious time won’t last forever, sometimes I can’t shake that heart-wrenching feeling of thinking about the day when they are ready to not need me to be at home for them anymore. I think it is okay that I don’t enjoy being a stay-at-home mum all the time, because I know I love my kids more than anything. And that is more than enough.
You and I, we are enough.