Stay-at-home moms tend to say the same things about the job, probably because there are certain aspects of being a stay-at-home parent that are pretty universal. One of those universal experiences, it turns out, is the seemingly never-ending list of things the partner of a stay-at-home mother just doesn't understand. It's hard to explain to people who have never done it, and the highs and lows can be pretty extreme. I can say with absolute confidence that there are things I wish my partner knew about being a stay-at-home mom, without me having to actually say it out loud.
I've been home with my kids for almost five years. In that five years, I have felt a range of emotions that I didn't even know existed; from blissful love and harmony to full-on rage, right on through to bleak depression. In other words, to say that I've been at the mercy of a gamut of emotions is an understatement. Through it all, my husband has gone to work, come home, eaten dinner, played with the kids, watched TV, and gone to bed. His routine rarely changes, just as my routine rarely changes. However, when he asks me what we did that day, I can't help but hear it as an accusation. When he looks around the house and sees the toys and the dishes and the piles of laundry, I know he's trying to be nice about it, but what he's really saying is, "What the hell do you do all day that I come home and this place? Looking like this?"
He means well, but I can tell by the quirk of his eyebrow that he doesn't quite get what it's like to be home with small kids from the moment the sun rises until the moment the sun sets. So husband, if you're reading this, here are a few things I'd like you to know, that I wish I didn't have to come right out and say.
It's kind of cliché at this point — the lonely stay at home mom who jumps on Facebook or Instagram at every opportunity just to communicate with the outside world — but it's true.
For some of us, a comment on Facebook is the only adult interaction we get in a day, so it's kind of vital.
It's Tedious And Chaotic, All At The Same Time
I know that seems like an oxymoron, but it's true. There is tedium and chaos in every single day. Tedium because we do the same chores, clean up the same messes, go through the same routines day after day after day. The chaos is in the minute-to-minute moments that are impossible to predict. The toddler is running around screaming because he doesn't want a diaper, while the big boy is asking for snacks for the 7th time in an hour. Then the phone rings, and the dogs start barking because the UPS guy just drove into the driveway.
Things like the aforementioned disaster scenario happen multiple times a day. Interspersed with the tedium of the routine, it's enough to make you a little spun out when all is said and done.
So when bedtime rolls around, all we want to do is sit down and rest. We might check Facebook, watch some TV, and find some other way to relax, but we really just want to zone out and not use our brain.
It may seem like it should be "easy" to be home all day and not be a slave to the normal workday grind but, I guarantee you, the opposite is true. Being a stay-at-home mom is physically and emotionally taxing.
It's Something You Should Appreciate
It's so important to me that you understand how hard I work every day. No, the house isn't always spotless and, no, the laundry isn't always put away. However, I spend all day every day caring for our kids, our home, and you. That's worthy of some praise, even if it's minimal.
It's A Real Job
While I may not get a paycheck or punch a time clock, being a stay-at-home mom is a real job. I work. In fact, I work very hard. That work should be recognized and not dismissed as me just playing with the kids or watching TV or looking at my phone all day.
I Need A Break, And I Need You To Understand Why
When you get home and I immediately run off to take a shower or go for a walk, I need you to not give me grief about it. Sometimes, I just need to be alone.
I know that you've been working hard all day and I understand that you don't want to be thrown into childcare as soon as you walk in the door, but you just had time alone in the car on your way home. You had time alone on your way to work this morning. You had time alone at lunch. You were able to work, at your desk, and complete one task after another without interruption. I've had to tend to other people's needs all day long, and now I need to tend to my own.
I Have Major Guilt For Not Contributing Financially...
Before I left my pre-baby job, I got paid. Not a lot, but it was a paycheck and it made a substantial impact on what my family could or could not afford.
Since I've given up that paycheck, every time I check our bank balance I feel the weight of guilt on my shoulders.
...So I Go Without A Lot Of Things
You made fun of me for wearing underwear with holes, but that's just how it is now. I skip replacing things for myself as they wear out or break, because I feel guilty spending money on things that are only for me.
Is it ridiculous? Sure. My friends tell me all the time that I need to get over this particular hangup, but I can't. If me having a hole in my sock helps us buy something cool for the kids, well, that just seems like a no-brainer.
There's A Lot Of Pressure To Have Perfect Kids
Because I stay home, people expect our kids to be either super well-behaved or unsocialized weirdos who run amok whenever they're let loose on the world. Either way, the pressure to have them be "good" is overwhelming.
If the 4-year-old toddler freaks out and has a meltdown at a family gathering, the looks I get are anything but sympathetic. People clutch their pearls and cluck their tongues and wonder what I do all day that contributes to my children's less-than-stellar behavior.
I Miss My Pre-Baby Job
I miss the work I did before we had kids. I was good at my job and I made a difference in people's lives. It was mentally stimulating and it made me feel good about myself. Now, it's easy to get wrapped up in the mundane and my confidence starts to wane. Wiping butts and noses isn't exactly brain work.
Sometimes I Resent That You See People Everyday
You leave in the morning and are around adults all day long. That's crazy to me. I see adults a few times a week, and in spurts. I never have prolonged contact with anyone except children, and I don't think you realize how difficult that is.
I Really Love Being A Stay-At-Home Mom
I love being home and I don't want you to think I don't, even if it's not awesome all day, every day. When I tell you I had a hard day or when I complain, please understand that I need an outlet. It doesn't mean I don't want to be here or that I'm not grateful to you for supporting us financially, so I can stay at home with our children.