The longer I'm a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), the more I realize just how many myths there really are about us. At times they're humorous, but mostly, they're just frustrating and discouraging. As if anyone cares or actually reads my blog besides like 5 people (Hi Michele, Mom, Sarah), okay, so maybe it's only 3. Anyway, as if anyone cares, I'm going to attempt to debunk some of these myths. And thanks to all my fellow SAHM's who voiced in to help me with this post.
Myth #1: That we believe we love our kids more than working moms. This is so untrue. There's so much competitiveness between moms these days. That breastfeeding makes you a better mom. That using cloth diapers gives you a one up on the disposable diaper using moms. Organic versus not. Make your own baby food versus buying it. I hate this. The truth of the matter is that while there could be a lot more SAHM's if people were willing to make the necessary sacrifices there are also some exceptional working moms out there - a lot of which happen to be some of my good friends. Moms who are in a place in life that staying at home simply isn't an option for them and their family. There's no need for a competition. We know you love your kids just as much as we do. We know if circumstances were different that you might be staying at home too. We know you want more hours in the day to spend with your kids. And we know that us being at home doesn't make us any better of a mom. Believe me when I say, there is no competition, at least not among me and the moms I've talked to. There's actually a level of guilt we have - guilt that we're in a place in life where we can do this and there are so many others who aren't who would love to be. We feel your pain. There is no competition.
Myth #2: We come from money. This is not Desperate Housewives or Real Housewives of NJ. Most SAHM's I know sacrifice substantially to be able to stay at home with their children. We live in normal houses and drive normal vehicles - you know, like mini vans. We wear jeans and t-shirts and do normal everyday family stuff.... like clean our own homes, cook, take our kids to the doctor and dentist, and shuffle kids to soccer, speech, volleyball, you name it. Someone actually told Mark one time that I must come from money since I stay at home with the kids. I don't. We've just chosen to live below our income, not acquire debt, and sacrifice so that I can do this. Is it hard? Yes. But it's also well worth it.
Myth #3: That since we're at home we don't mind being asked to watch your kids too. I'm sorry, we do. *insert best friend and emergency clause here - Unless you're my bestie or there's an emergency, it's not okay to assume I will watch your kids*. There have been times that one of my daughter's friends could not come over unless she brought her younger brother (and by younger, I mean like 2 or 3). There was no need for him to be here, no one his age to play with, and when I said no, the mom wouldn't allow her daughter to come play with my daughter. Not fair to either one of them and certainly not fair to expect me to watch her son too just so her daughter could play with mine. I've had my son's friend's parents drive up, drop their son off, and be gone for 2 hours.... people I've never even spoken a word to. And no, I'm not kidding. I'll let you in on a little secret, by days end we're running on empty, people. Empty. On... the... red. We've done good to make it until the kids' bedtime without some catastrophic event or meltdown and you want to add your kid into the mix? Make it a play date. Call ahead. Let's schedule it. We're okay with that. Truth be told, I've long said that I want my house full. I'd much rather my kids' friends be in our home than my kids being in other people's homes. At least here, I control what they see, watch, hear, do, etc. I know they're safe. And I know that's also why people feel comfortable leaving their kids here. It's a compliment of sorts. But if you can give us time to prepare, it really does help. We truly don't mean to be rude or mean about it. It's simply that we're busy working, and if I took my kids to your work and left them there.... well, see what I mean?
Myth #4: That being a SAHM isn't a real job. This kinda goes with that last part of #3. We really are working. We're cooking and cleaning, changing diapers and feeding babies, paying bills, taking the trash out, folding laundry, and picking up 542 Legos for the 83rd time. People don't typically come out and say it's not a real job, but it's always inherent in their questions. Questions like "When your kids get in school are you going to get a job?" Huh? As if the one I have now isn't good enough to qualify as a real job? I always find it amusing that when people drop their kids off at a daycare that everyone there suddenly is working at their job yet when I do the same thing at home, it's suddenly not a job. Or when people hire a housekeeper or a cooking service. All of those people have jobs, so then why when I do it is it not considered a job? The only difference is that those people get to go home and be away from their work (admittedly to do more work of the same sort I'm talking about) and that they get paid to do it. I'm at my job 24/7. I'm on call 24/7. I'm up in the middle of the night feeding the baby. I'm up in the middle of the night cleaning up vomit and changing sheets. I'm up early and to bed late.... working at my job. My job that doesn't pay in monetary rewards. It's the absolute most important job I could have and reaps dividends far exceeding any monetary compensation. It's my job and I love it.
Myth #5: That we have all the time in the world. This usually comes in the form of "Don't you get bored? What do you do all day to stay busy?" We rarely have down time. Most of us get up before our kids do to start our day. It's not uncommon for me to have dishes and laundry going before the kids are even off to school. By the time I make lunches, fix hair, check folders, take the older 2 to school, and come home, it's time to feed the baby. And by the time I'm done with that, then I'm cleaning up spit-up, or in my case, more like vomit every time we feed her. Then I'm changing diapers. There are mornings I don't even make it to go pee before 9:00. We're trying to fit it time for our own breakfast while swapping out loads of laundry and unloading the dishwasher. We're trying to teach toddlers shapes and numbers, their letters and colors. We're sweeping the kitchen floor 3 times a day because of all the food that can't seem to stay on plates and highchairs. We're feeding babies again and changing more diapers. We're in the floor playing peek-a-boo and reading "I Love You This Much" for the 127th time. We're cleaning up cat puke and vacuuming up all the mud that we let dry in the carpet so it'd be easier to just scrape off and vacuum. We're spraying the carpet with cleaner to get out all the spit up spots. We're cleaning toilets where little boys have bad aim and cleaning up a water trail from one end of the house to the other because someone thought it'd be a good idea to put the cat in the bathtub. Ahem. We're running to the grocery store, and to the pharmacy, and to wellness visits. We're trying to make it in time to have lunch with the other 2 at school. We're feeding the baby again and changing another diaper. We're cooking with a baby on our hip. We're rocking, walking, bouncing, singing to the baby to soothe her to sleep. And then we're trying to catch up on emails and maybe sneak in 10 minutes of a good book, or you know, a shower. We're busy because our job dictates that we must be. Truth is we don't have enough hours in the day to do all we need to do and we're certainly never bored.
Myth #6: Our houses should be impeccably clean since we have all the time in the world to clean them. See #5 above. And we live in our houses 24/7. Our houses do not get an 8-10 hr. break. No further explanation needed.
Myth #7: That we have it all together and never need a break. Let me just say, I never have it all together. I might be coordinated enough to make it appear like that, but rarely ever is that genuinely the case. As much as I love being a SAHM, it isn't without effect. It gets hard to watch the same movie over and over. It's exhausting to be on 5 1/2 months of broken sleep, particularly after the older 2 sleeping through the night at 10 and 8 weeks. This one, not so much, but we're getting there. It's hard to change diaper after diaper and be thrown up on virtually every single day, multiple times a day from a baby with severe acid reflux. It's hard to get the kids to school on time, take care of the baby, remember appointments, work part time (yes, I'm a SAHM and have an incredibly part time job too), get one to speech and OT, the other to volleyball or soccer, have dinner on time, do reading and homework, work on spelling and sight words, and find time to actually talk to my husband. It's not without effect. It's hard to not be able to go to the bathroom in peace or take a shower without someone intruding or yelling from outside the door about some life ending emergency like "Eli got chocolate out of the pantry! Can I have some too?! Why?? He got some, why can't I have any?" It's hard for one to want you to play Legos and the other Barbies - so we often build - wait for it - ..... Lego barbie houses or play Barbies and Tractors. It's hard to hear "Mom" hundreds of times each day and to be so highly in demand. It's hard to do it day in and day out, year after year. We need breaks, yet have no vacation or sick days. Some of us have husbands with odd work schedules, rendering even less help.... less breaks. Are we blessed? Absolutely. But we need breaks just like everyone else, only we rarely get them.
We have the most valuable job of all (as do all moms, not just SAHMs) but often feel insignificant and undervalued. We wonder if it'd just be better to send them to school and daycare than to keep feeling like we're drudging along day in and day out. We've become great pretenders. We're worn down, weary, and bone tired. Yet we try to put a smile on our face and go through the day doing the best we can, at times sneaking away to cry in the closet or shower because we feel like we're failing. We're afraid to say it's been a hard day because the truth is we know it's been a hard day for our husbands and friends too, yet we've been with our kids all day.... such a privilege and we know this. Yet we feel there's often no outlet to just be, to rest, to not be needed for a moment and certainly not to say we have it hard. Because there are so many who want to be where we are that uttering even the smallest complaint seems ungrateful and in some way wrong. But why should we have to act like every day is gloriously grand? We all know kids can be trying and testing, push our buttons and test their limits. But because of this inward guilt and desire not to seem like we're not appreciative of getting to stay at home with our kids, we shrink back and keep it in, desperately hoping for a much needed break to come soon, or you know, like right now. Seriously, like right now, pack our bags and head out in the morning, right now. But that day rarely comes and we pull out our Bibles and dig deep searching for refreshment and the strength to make it through another day.
And He always provides. He is faithful, friends.
He's faithful to the stay at home moms. He's faithful to all the moms out there working who wish they could be at home. He's faithful to the husbands out there working to provide for their families. Faithful friends. He's so faithful.
I'll say it again. This is not a competition. Working or not, we all love our kids and want the best for them. This is just the view from the inside of a SAHM. It's not as easy as it looks. I know I'm super fly like that and make it appear smooth as the icing on a cake, but it's really not.
Let's all just give each other a break.... try to be more understanding of where we're each coming from. Because we're all just moms (maybe I should say parents, in the event a male other than my husband happens across my blog and bumps my tally to 4) doing the best we can.
And I'm outta here. The 2am feeding will be upon me before I know it.
Good night, friends.