The transition from full-time, working (outside the home) mom to stay-at-home mom has not been a seamless one for this girl. As I’ve written before, I knew staying home would be a world away from going to work each day, but nothing could have prepared me for just how different it would be. Over the last three months, I’ve made some observations about my new position (Operations Manager, I like to call it), and life. Here’s what:
My hands are always wet.
Between chopping fruits and veggies, wiping up spills, and washing the 8000 parts that comprise my toddler’s sippy cups, you can count on my hands being pruny at any given point in the day.
The house runs more smoothly when someone is home during the day.
Prior to our move, and my temporary stint at home, we had a massive dirty laundry pile in our basement. While I can say our laundry is never “done” now, the pile is much less massive. There’s also no more “laundry couch” (where we used to throw all the clean laundry, but never fold and put away). We’re also eating better meals and almost zero take-out.
I love my toddler more than ever.
She also makes me question my sanity (on a daily basis). Having to complete seven psychological reports in a week, working with challenging co-workers, participating in multiple-hour, emotional IEP meetings…none of that holds a candle to (trying to) calm an irrational, overtired, two-year-old.
There are no words to describe how bothered I am by not bringing in a paycheck for my family.
Intellectually, I know I’m providing for my family by staying home, but I still feel an overwhelming need to bring home the bacon (not the kind from the grocery store). I’ve thought about looking for a part-time weekend job, to allay some of these feelings, but alas, at seven months pregnant, employers aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to hire me.
Since I can’t make money, I’ve been doing my best to save money, which coincidentally, is driving my husband crazy. Hey, unplugging the television, coffee pot, toaster, microwave, cell phone chargers, baby monitor, and fans save money, all right?
I very much enjoy sharing a muffin or donut with my toddler, in our PJs, in the morning.
When she’s not in the throes of a sunrise tantrum, it’s nice to be able to eat at a normal pace, and take in the morning, without rushing around to find an un-crusty, wrinkle-free pair of work pants.
I don’t know where I fit in.
Even though I’m temporarily at home, I don’t necessarily feel like a stay-at-home-mom; I also don’t feel like I’m a “working mom.”
By 4:00 p.m. each day, I begin eyeing the clock, waiting for my husband to get home.
After dinner, he takes on toddler duty—taking P for walks, playing with her in the backyard, etc., so I can regain any sanity that’s been lost during the day.
I’m scared to hang out with other moms.
Some days, I crave adult interaction and think about going to a mom meetup. Sadly, I’ve never mustered the courage. Maybe it’s because I don’t know where I fit in, maybe it’s the judge-y, bitterness I’ve witnessed on online “mom boards,” or maybe it’s my own insecurities (probably)..who knows? I guess the point is, I miss adult interaction during the day.
I have always known, and respected that being a stay-at-home-mom is a full-time job.
Now, I know it from experience. When I hear someone talk about how staying home with children is not a job, I feel an extra need to kick them in the crotch (the word crotch was used because I can’t recall ever hearing a woman saying being a SAHM isn’t a full-time job).
I feel guilty for wanting to work outside the home, but know it’s something I have to do, not just financially, but for me.
There are many women I’ve spoken with who are happy to stay home with their children, and want nothing more than to do so. I am just not one of those women. It’s not that I don’t enjoy time with my daughter, or “love her enough to stay home” (something I’ve heard), it’s that in order to be a happy, well-adjusted person, I need to contribute outside the home in some way. I know my daughter and son (it’s weird typing that, but T-minus 10 weeks…) will be better off with a working mom, because if I’m happy, there’s a greater chance they will be too.
I think one of the reasons enrolling my daughter in daycare (at six weeks of age) wasn’t terribly traumatic for me was because I didn’t have much time to bond with her after she was born (I was denied maternity leave and returned to work when she was 17 old). When I return to work in a few months (fingers crossed!), I think I may have trouble keeping it together at daycare drop-off.
Being a stay-at-home-mom, even a temporary one, is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done.
My days are punctuated by blissfully joyful moments, and soul-sucking, public tantrums. When I return to work, I know there will be days I yearn to be back home, so I’m taking the tantrums in stride, remembering to smile, and contemplating taking up meditation.