Ever since AKA was born I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t want someone raising my child, I didn’t want to miss the milestones and so on. Normal thoughts for a working mom. So in early June I got my wish…and I have to say it’s not at all what I expected.
Let me start by saying that the last couple months (or Maternity Leave 2.0 as I call it) have been awesome from a parenting standpoint. I’m so lucky to have this opportunity. I know this situation won’t last forever and I’m trying to make the most my time with Amelia. We are doing everything that I had hoped for- playing, reading, learning, snuggling and getting to know each other on a whole new level. But, as I mentioned in my last post, I wonder if she needs daily interaction with kids her own age. It seems silly to put her in daycare full time since I’m home all day though. Not to mention the cost! Besides, our current daycare facility is pretty blah- no warm and fuzzy feeling, ho-hum staff and a very uninspiring environment. The only other options in our area are very hoity-toity or church-based. Not a good fit for us.
I used to criticize moms who wanted to go back to work after their maternity leave. Or God forbid, the women who shortened their leave because they couldn’t handle being home all day. I get it now. Some women are simply not cut out to be stay-at-home moms and that’s OK! Our kids will turn out fine regardless of the choice we make. If working makes you a better parent then good for you (and your family). Having experienced both sides of the equation now I’m not sure what the ideal situation would be- maybe consistent part-time, full-day work in an office? That sort of job doesn’t exist. Ugh.
So without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned about being a stay-at-home mom. You may feel my views are negative but I’m being brutally honest…
It’s repetitive. Wake up, bottle, breakfast, clean up, exercise for me (if we get around to it), snack, play, lunch, nap, clean up, snack, play, dinner, play, bottle, bath, bed, clean up…every single day. Kids of all ages need a routine- it helps set expectations and gives them a sense of security. I try to vary what I can (typically the play part) with trips to the splash park or playground.
It can be mind-numbing. Most of our playtime is fun and entertaining. But picking up the 20 pieces of her toy every hour? Reading the same book 10x/day (and a sucky book at that)? These repetitive tasks help AKA learn but it’s hard for an adult who’s used to working on big projects. I guess I am learning things too…who would’ve thought that bunnies and kittens could be best friends? Thank you Bunny Friends book for enlightening me. I’m also re-learning nursery rhymes and how jacked up they are…I know some of them are old but Goosey Gander throwing an old man down the stairs for not saying his prayers? W.T.F. That book is going to the donation box.
It can be lonely. While my situation is a little extreme because we don’t know anyone here, I think a lot of moms will agree. If you get wrapped up in the daily routine you only have a couple short opportunities to socialize. I’ve also learned that simply being a mom isn’t enough common ground to form friendships. I tried a couple Meetups and have come to the realization that I’m a total outlier here in the ‘burbs- an “old” mom (first kid at 35? Gasp!) with hobbies that no one else can relate to (outdoor action sports) and different values (non-Christian). My work-at-home setup sounded great but I think it’s only contributing to the problem- work provides social interaction, even if it’s just water cooler chat. Plus it’s virtually impossible to get any work done while AKA is awake. I just updated my LinkedIn profile and have been casually looking for jobs in the area. Time to start networking. I would love to volunteer but our day-to-day schedule isn’t consistent enough.
It can diminish your self-esteem. Again, my situation is unique because I’m also working part time- I kind of feel like I’m contributing. Kind of. But– when I see other moms all dressed up, dropping their kid off at daycare on Wednesdays, I feel like a total bum. I’ve gone so far as to straighten my hair, put on makeup and iron an outfit…just for the daycare drop-off. Ridiculous, huh? I don’t do my hair or wear makeup anymore because we don’t go anywhere. I don’t wear anything nicer than a pair of North Face shorts and bike T-shirt. To quote SNL’s “Mom Jeans” skit- “I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a mom”. Ugh.
You are more than just a mom. I am also the bill payer, housekeeper, laundress, cook, errand-runner, researcher, shopper and planner. It’s my job. Good luck if you’re a perfectionist…something will inevitably fall through the cracks and it will be the end of the world. Yes, Amelia goes to daycare once per week but that’s my day to work and do things that are tough with a toddler (shopping of any kind, making phone calls, cleaning with chemicals, doing anything car- or garage-related and going to personal appointments). I’m also trying to do this without any sort of support structure…
So there you have it- my experience as a stay-at-home mom. I tip my hat to all those who have gone down this road before. It is not an easy journey! I know that one day I’ll be sitting at my desk wishing I was home with Amelia, so maybe we’ll read Bunny Friends 11 times today instead of 10 🙂