Shortly after having my daughter, I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom. Now, there were several things that contributed to this decision. The biggest being the fact that I had my daughter right at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and believed the best way to keep her safe was to be home with her. There were other contributing factors like my job where before I left, I had some seniority and felt like a part of the team. However, upon my return from maternity leave it was if I had never been a part of the team and my seniority was dissolved during my 13 weeks of maternity leave. You layered that with the struggle to pump with a demanding job and I felt as though I was going to have to make the choice between my job and continuing to breast feed. Childcare was another contributing factor. We had childcare figured out before I was even pregnant, but because the household had someone working as an essential employee in the medical field, we could not continue to risk potential exposure to my daughter. We could not afford outside childcare and knew the right choice was for me to stay home.
Just like that, Stay-At-Home mom (SAHM) became my new title. I am blessed to be able to be home with my daughter and watch her grow but I think there is so much about the SAHM world that can be underappreciated and so much harder than it seems from the outside. I feel like the SAHM title gained another layer of difficulty when Covid hit. When I heard the term “Stay-at-home mom” before I had my daughter, I envisioned a woman that was home all day with her kids doing fun activities, having fun playdates, doing some cooking and cleaning, but also having some time to herself. I can honestly say that I thought for sure that being a SAHM was easier than working before I became a mom. A big part of the problem is until you are a mom and are actually in the thick of it , appreciating the hard work that goes into being a stay-at-home mom is difficult. This is the thing, when you decide to stay home the vision you have in your head for how thing are going to be and how they really are , are vastly different. So of course, I went into this naively thinking that it would not only solve the previously mentioned factors but would also give me more time to get things done and it would all be easier. I mean it did solve the problems we were facing but I was now working for my daughter- this was a whole new level of employment for me.
The year 2020 was deemed “the year that everyone stayed home” and that could not be any truer for moms. This meant no play dates, no activities like story time at the library, no coffee dates with other moms while your kids play, or just going wherever we wanted without restrictions or worries. This for me meant I rarely left my house at all except for weekly grocery pickups and occasional visits to my mom’s. I had all these ideas during my pregnancy about all the thing I would do with my daughter, and just like, I was not going to be able to do them. This left me feeling like I had been robbed of the experiences. I never imagined I would feel as isolated as I did, especially as a new mom. Granted covid made it worse but even now I feel it. Most days a majority of my conversations are had with a one-year-old. While she is cute, her incoherent babbling doesn’t add a lot to conversation; It becomes very easy to get stuck in your own head talking to yourself. I find myself jumping at the opportunity to have an adult conversation when I get the chance. I honestly think this can be the hardest part about being a SAHM not having anyone one to talk to or relate to throughout the day, especially when you are having a tough day.
In general, when you work outside the home you get to come home and be away from your job until the next workday. When you are a SAHM this does not happen. My coworker is still here at 5 o’clock – I never leave work. I have made this choice to be home with my daughter, but it can be difficult to have to always “be on” and in mommy mode. I don’t get to go out into the career world and switch modes into whatever profession for 8 hours and be my own person. I am my daughter’s world 24/7. I love being there for my daughter but there are days when the fussiness and neediness can make you want to clock out of being a mom for even just an hour.
I recently decided to start working on top of staying home with my daughter. For whatever reason I have convinced myself that it would be good for me, and it would be a great example to show my daughter what a rockstar her mom was. Staying home with her, doing activities, cooking all her meals, and working. It has been great because it has given me a purpose other than being a mommy. A lot of SAHM make the same decision and many more moms had to work from home when covid hit. Remote work became the go to and the ultimate test to every mother’s sanity who had to do it. I personally love the flexibility to work from home on my own time. However, trying to work while being a SAHM is strenuous. I am going to give a shout out to all you moms that do 8+ hour workdays at home, while trying to manage your kids at the same time. YOU ROCK!!!…and you deserve a raise. I literally do not know how I would do it. I have had to figure out how to do my work when and where I can. You know the old saying “when your baby sleeps, you sleep”? Well, when my baby sleeps, I work. I find it next to impossible and the most pointless activity to try to work when my daughter is in the same room. She has no problem contently playing alone until I pull out my laptop to work and suddenly, she is drawn in as if my laptop was calling her name. If it’s not that it is the literal CONSTANT interruptions that make it impossible to maintain a train of thought that lasts more than 5 minutes. Essentially, when you work on top of being a SAHM it’s like having 2 jobs at once and it is a struggle over who to give attention to. If you give your child attention you are not working hard enough and if you give your work all the attention you feel like you are neglecting your child. It’s a scenario where neither one wins 100% of the time.
Being a Stay-at-Home mom is not an all-inclusive vacation spent eating bon-bons on the couch with endless free time. It is making memories in the chaos, juggling more than you ever thought possible, and trying to maintain your identity while being a mom 24/7. It’s getting to enjoy every single moment with your kid while wanting to hide in your closet and have peace for two minutes. Mainly it is finding our strength as women and realizing just how much we are capable of. It is income free hard work and now that I am in it, I appreciate it so much more.