If my time as a mother has taught me anything, it's that worrying is par for the parenting course. In fact, I think it's safe to say that all parents worry about damn near everything, to a certain degree. Working moms worry about that so-called "work/life balance," first-time moms worry about getting motherhood "right" the first time around, and toddler moms worry about pee. All the pee. So, of course there are things you're going to freak out about as a stay-at-home mom, too. While us moms are all different with different children and different life circumstances, the constant state of worry we all live in definitely brings us together.
While I’m more of a work-from-home mom now, I was mainly a stay-at-home mom for the first year of my son’s life. I was working as an editor prior to his birth but, due to some issues with my pregnancy, was let go before I could take advantage of my maternity leave (yes, that was as sh*tty as it sounds). I thought I would start applying for jobs when I was three or four months postpartum, but I didn’t. My son was born sick, so I didn’t get to take him home until he was 2 months old. I decided then and there that I’d rather stay close by and watch him grow in those early, pivotal years than go back to work (because, well, I can always go back to work, right?).
Still, even now and as a work-from-home mom, I worry about some of the same things I stressed over when I wasn’t working. Most of my fears have to do with others’ perceptions of my life choices, and with my career goals, though I know that I really shouldn’t worry about what other people think. So mamas, if you’re stressing about any of the following, don’t, because you’re doing the right thing for your family right now.
Never Being Able To Find A Paying Job Again
This was my main concern from the moment I left my last in-office job. How would future employers feel about a gap in my employment history? While I have yet to return to on-site employment, when speaking with numerous moms who returned to work I've realized that so long as I am able to present myself as a qualified employee, there’s an excellent chance of being hired on.
People Thinking You “Just Sit Around Watching TV” All Day
Sometimes I'm on the receiving end of a few snide remarks from folks who work outside the home, thinking that I must not do much since I am home all the time. Some folks will never understand how much hard work is put into raising a child and maintaining a home. It’s exhausting, both physically and mentally, so to all the haters I say: “Back off.”
Not Being Taken Seriously By Other Working Moms
As a stay-at-home mom, there were more than a few times when I really envied the working moms I knew. They all seemed so well put together (probably because leaving the home usually requires regular showers and wearing something other than your pajamas). I worried they might see me as less of an “adult” for staying home. Thankfully, I got over that pretty quickly.
Losing Your Non-Stay-At-Home Mom Friends
Moms that work outside the home are usually involved in retreats and happy hours and holiday parties; you know, things stay-at-home moms just don't get to do on a regular basis. So I worried I wouldn’t have as much to talk about with my non-stay-at-home mom friends, or that we would just never have time for each other.
The joke's on me, though, because no mom has time for anything, period.
Having Their Significant Others Take Them For Granted...
This is an on-going struggle for any parent who stays home. Our significant others will sometimes forget that while they’re at work, we’re here picking the laundry up off the floor, or vacuuming the rooms, or making sure the cable bill gets paid. They forget all the things we do because, when they come home, they're already done. So it's easy for them to take us for granted.
I have learned a way to pull back the curtain and show your partner all that you do, though. Tell them about everything you did in a given day. I mean really run down the list, and don't skip over any details (regardless of how small or minor you think they are). Or, you can just stop doing certain things altogether. I guarantee you, your partner will quickly remember how hard you work when there's suddenly no soap in the bathtub, the bed isn't made, and dinner doesn't magically appear on the table.
... Or Being Accused Of Taking Advantage Of Their Significant Other
There will always be haters. One brand is the type that thinks, because your partner works and you don’t, you must be lazy and maybe even a “gold digger.” This is applicable even if your partner doesn’t make much money. Ignore those people. Don't talk to those people. Seriously, erase those people from your life.
Being Judged For A Messy House
Some folks think that because you’re home all day, you must have time to dust and mop and sweep and tidy up your house every second of every day. Yeah, all those tasks take a significant amount of time. Sometimes we do them, but sometimes we don't. Sometimes our kid is sick. Sometimes we’re just tired. Sometimes playing with our kid is more important than dirty dishes.
Losing The “Real You”
I think it's safe to say that any woman, regardless of her employment status, worries about losing herself to motherhood. But when you choose (and/or have to be) a stay-at-home mom, I think this particular fear intensifies. What will you talk about other than your child or your home?
Plenty, actually. Just because I’ve been a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean I’ve lost my ability to have interests outside the home.
This is totally legit. Staying at home means there’s less income in your family, which can be a strain. However, child care being ridiculously overpriced these days means that staying at home might actually make more financial sense. Face it, kids are expensive and we’re damned either way. Might as well be damned and have the ability to eat brunch daily in our sweats if we like, right?
Feeling Empty Once Your Kids Are Old Enough Not To “Need” You
I always feared that devoting most of my time to my child and my home might eventually backfire once my baby isn't a baby anymore. But you know, they’re going to grow up either way. So whether I stay home or eventually go back to an office, the only thing I know for sure is I’ll never regret those extra morning snuggles or those impromptu dance parties or letting my kid help me with the cooking.