So I read this article that came up on my Facebook feed earlier today and thought that it was both interesting and unfair.
I’ve been fortunate enough to experience life as both a WORKING MOM and a STAY AT HOME MOM, so I thought I’d give my thoughts on the topic. While I’d never suggest that one mom has it easier than the other, I do think that sometimes we fail to look at their side of things through their eyes.
The author starts off the article saying that no one told her that being a stay at home mom (SAHM) would be this hard, and it continues with how she views her life now as a SAHM including things like not being able to find time to shower or put on make up, lack of sleep, etc. Now for me personally, the whole no shower/no make up thing you can change. It’s called getting up 15 minutes earlier in the morning (ok maybe longer – I never wear makeup, so I don’t know how long it takes to put it on). The lack of sleep thing can be also be changed to a degree – go to bed earlier. Even if it’s only one day a week, or only 30 minutes earlier. You’re not going to be able to change how often your child gets up.
As for the “look” that people give you when you say you’re tired, they probably don’t have children or remember what it was like to have young children. And while they may not want to hear your whole sob story, telling them that “Johnny” was up 4 times last night isn’t unreasonable either – this is your life now. I was fortunate that my second child slept through the night when she was 3 weeks old. Now that she’s 4, she’s making up for it though. It’s not uncommon for her to get up once if not twice each night because she wants snuggles. And some nights she gets them, but most nights she doesn’t and goes back to be by herself. Essentially you need to prioritize – and some days for me that extra bit of sleep is needed more than a shower.
She also eludes the fact of her house being a mess. Yep mine is too. Why? Because I’m choosing to spend time with my children (hence the term SAHM). They will only be little for so long, so there’s only so much time I have to colour with them, play Barbie’s with them, or build Lego with them. The “rule” in our house (even before children) has been, if you show up unexpectedly for a visit then you have to take the house as it is. After all we do LIVE in it. If we have made plans for you to come over for a visit, then my house should be relatively cleaned up – well at least the parts that you will be in. Most people who I’ve met don’t expect you to have an immaculate house when you have a baby. Most people understand that baby takes up a certain amount of time. Now, having said that, that also doesn’t give you a reason to have last week’s diapers falling out of the garbage can. Essentially you need to prioritize. Hmm, I feel like I’ve said that before.
I do think that some Stay-at-home mom’s do experience guilt though. Guilt for not helping to provide financially to their family. Guilt for staying with their children instead of going back to work. Guilt for not having the house looking like the Cleaver’s. Let’s face it – it’s called Mommaguilt for a reason.
Now for the stay at home mom’s who are able to keep their kids happy and healthy, keep the house clean, laundry caught up, and have dinner ready when you significant other gets home – KUDDOS to you!!! My husband will be the first one to tell you that this doesn’t happen at our house. I’ve been known to ask him (on numerous occasions) at 9 or 10 at night if he has clothes for work the next day.
So let’s look at the working mom’s now. These mom’s do probably shower and put make up on every day, but they make time for it in their schedule. They are probably just as tired as stay-at-home moms – as mentioned earlier, you can’t control or predict when you’re little ones are going to get up. They’ve had to change their schedule to fit everything in and decide what takes priority when.
As for the messy house – well mine was still messy – even when I worked full-time. So for me it doesn’t seem to matter if I’m home or working – we just live in a mess. But I seemed to be better at getting laundry done when I worked full-time. And I think it’s because I HAD to have clean clothes for work, I can’t just throw on the same pair of yoga pants I wore yesterday. When I was working, dinner was always a last-minute thing that was thrown together. It wasn’t uncommon for us to not get home until at least 6:30pm, and we always tried to start to get the kids ready for bed by 7. We ate a lot of pasts, and crock pot meals.
I had mommaguilt BIG time when I went back to work. Now, when I went back after my second child, she was 6 months old, BUT she was home with Dad as my husband took parental leave. It didn’t matter that he was home, I still felt guilty because I wasn’t there. Not to mention the length of time I was gone from home. At that point I had a 45 minute commute each way, worked an 8 hour day, and occasionally had meetings in the evening. So there were days where I left before the kids woke up and got home after they were in bed. And there is also the guilt of the momma’s who WANT to stay home with their kids, but can’t for whatever reason.
And one mom that was never touched on (and honestly I’m not sure if I’ve seen many articles at all on), is the single mom. These mom’s deserve some serious KUDOS. They do it all – and sometimes with very little help from anyone else. I know a few single moms, and I honestly wonder some days HOW they do it all. I’ve singled parented a few times while hubby was out-of-town for work, and depending how long he’s gone, can’t wait for him to return.
And why is it that dad’s very rarely get recognition? The stay at home dad’s? The single dad’s? The working dad’s? Most of the time they do just as much as the mom’s do, yet we tend to focus on the mom’s.
So I feel, like I’ve rambled now. So back to the original reason for this post. The author of the article asked why no one told her that being a stay-at-home mom would be hard. If you knew how hard it would be, you might not do it, and then you’d lose out on some of the most fun and joy and frustration and anger a person can have. And it’s not just being a stay-at-home mom that’s hard. It’s being a PARENT that is hard.
If I could do it over again, I would in a heartbeat. Those sleepless nights. The nights spent crying and begging my son to go back to sleep because Mommy had to work in the morning. The crying on my way to work after dropping my babies off at the caregivers. The HUGE smiles and hugs I’d get from them when I returned to pick them up at the end of the day. All those diapers. Cleaning up after they were sick. No. Scratch that. Someone else can clean up after them when they are sick.
Being a parent is the only job that I would go back to over and over again. The only one where I get to laugh each and every day. And the only one that where I’m proud of the “products” each and every day.