Being a stay-at-home mom is one of the toughest jobs in the world. It is constant, never-ending, highly demanding, and frequently thankless. The things stay-at-home moms do are the things that glue a family's lives together. My own mother was a SAHM for most of my life, only working for very brief stints every few years when times got too tight. I know for a fact I did not thank her nearly enough for all the things she did for us. My mom wasn’t the type of SAHM to assign things like chores to the kids, either. She did every single thing herself, even when no one asked her to. I basically grew up watching her clean, cook, and cater to our every need morning, noon, and night, maintaining a generally pleasant demeanor most of the time. I still don’t know how she did it.
Meanwhile, I took on the role of stay-at-home mom for the first year of my child’s life (until I became a work-at-home mom, which is basically just as tough). I knew right away it wasn’t for me and that it wouldn’t last very long. I lack the patience of my mother, not to mention her domestic goddess skills. Having experienced it first hand, though, I know there are plenty of aspects of managing a house and kids that go under-appreciated all the time. And yet, without those tasks being done, many if not all households would fall apart. SAHMs reading this, see if some of these resonate with you:
Killing And Ridding The Home Of Small Vermin
One of my least favorite aspects of being the primary caretaker at home is the occasional fight with a spider, silverfish, or other nasty creepy crawly. I have many friends who are opposed to killing spiders (“They’re harmless!” they tell me), but as I live on the outskirt of the Everglades (aka, a giant swamp), we get way more bugs here in a week than most folks get in their homes in a year. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I frequently had to make sure to cleanse the home of vermin on a weekly basis. It was no fun, but someone had to do it.
Catering To Ouchies Big And Small
Because my baby was still quite small, he didn’t suffer much in the ways of scrapes or cuts. Still, I know that being a SAHM means having to always know exactly where the Neosporin, gauze, Band-Aids, and other first-aid supplies are. It means knowing how to use said supplies, and how to calm a crying child while you apply them to the “ouchie” in question. My mother was the only one to ever care for my wounds as a child, and yet I cringe at the thought of having to someday clean up my son’s scraped knee. This is seriously one of the most heroic SAHM roles I can think of.
Cleaning Those Hard-To-Reach Spots In The House That Everyone Else Pretends Don’t Exist
You know that closet that keeps getting more and more cluttered with junk? Or the guest bathroom toilet that everyone keeps peeing in but no one ever thinks to scrub? SAHMs have a tendency to take on these unpleasant tasks in order to keep their homes fully functional. We do it because, well, we have to, but the next time you notice the goddamn blinds have been dusted and the fridge has been cleaned until it sparkles, please make sure to thank the person that did it. It means a lot.
Plus Laundry Forever And Ever And Ever
Moms are no strangers to laundry. And when you’re a SAHM, the stuff just follows you around like a bad shadow. I seriously have about 5 or 6 hampers in my house and yet dirty clothes still manage to find their way to the floor and clean clothes still manage to end up in plastic bags, waiting to someday return to their homes in the dresser and closet. Honestly, even as a work-at-home mom, I still find myself doing the bulk of the work. This is heroism at its finest. If I finally went on a laundry strike, we’d all end up walking around naked pretty damn soon, and no one needs to see that.
Two Words: Science Projects
For now, I’m the mother of a toddler. But sooner or later, my kid will be in elementary school and those two dreaded words will fly out of his mouth: science project! Ahhh! Confession: My mother basically did my first-grade science project (for which I believe I got at least an honorable mention). She also helped (and by "helped," I mean "she let me help her") with my projects until I finished elementary school. This also included dioramas. I am not prepared for this, but I know many a stay-at-home mom who has found herself glueing and cutting and Sharpie-ing those tri-fold boards until the wee hours of the morn because that’s just the kind of Superwoman sh*t SAHMs do.
Battling The Bed Spreads
This one may not seem like a big deal, but then, have you ever tried putting a new bed spread on a freaking king sized bed? Not as easy as it may seem, especially when you’re only 5’3”. SAHMs often make beds and change sheets so that we don’t all continuously sleep in our own filth for months on end. SAHMs are wise and wonderful badasses.
Playing The Role Of Nurse, Even When We’re Sure We’ve Come Down With The Plague Ourselves
Being sick is never the same after you have kids. Long gone are the days of laying down and dying, allowing yourself to hide under covers and marathon Jessica Jones while sipping on veggie soup and hot tea. No, once you’re a mom, you more than likely have a rugrat or two vying for your attention, completely impervious to your ailments. And it’s much worse if you’re a SAHM — you can’t pretend you’re going to brave going to the office with the flu and then hide in your car all day, away from work and your kids (no shame). You’re pretty much stuck there.
Re-Stocking The Fridge (And Everything Else)
Going grocery shopping for one is wonderful. Going grocery shopping for yourself, your partner, and your kids? Not so fun. For one, you end up putting all the fun stuff back in order to not overspend since your kid needs the organic chicken tenders and your husband and son both need a different type of Lactaid. And then once you’re home, you often end up being the one to play Tetris with the fridge, only to have one inconsiderate family member come to the kitchen and ruin it all. And then, of course, there are things like toilet paper (who but the stay-at-home mom will ever replace the roll?), toothpaste, dish soap, laundry detergent...well, you get the idea.
Chasing Away Imaginary Goblins And Anything Else Hiding Under The Bed
Especially if your spouse or partner works at night, you will likely end up taking over nightly tasks such as making sure the toddler’s room is safe from monsters and boogeymen. This may require crouching down to flash a light under the bed, opening closet doors, and waking up repeatedly throughout the night. And will your kid remember to thank you? Maybe sometimes. Maybe.
Indulging (Over-The-Top, Ridiculous) Custom Meal Orders
Who cuts the crusts off toast, peels apples and oranges, bakes cookies in the shape of stars, knows to only put mayonnaise on the top sandwich bread slice and not the bottom, remembers to only use the green spoons with the orange tray (because god forbid the purple tray gets used), and makes sure the pancakes have sliced strawberry or bananas but never, ever both? Chances are you do, if you’re a SAHM whipping up daily meals for your brood.
...And Finally, Creating Elaborate Routines In Order To Get The Kids To Sleep
The other day, a SAHM friend of mine was commenting how her daughter will only go to sleep if a certain song is playing, if she’s got the right blankie with her, and if the room is completely dark. For my own son, bedtime means we must read at least 1-3 stories, drink a warm bottle of milk, and then snuggle until he passes out. But when I’ve got work to do, or need time off, my husband picks up the slack. But when being SAHM was my full-time job and my husband needed to get to bed early, I was always the one to do the routine. And although your kiddo may fall asleep before they can thank you for it, you know you’re a hero in their little hearts.