I want to preface this post by saying that this was very hard for me to write. I feel so vulnerable sharing these thoughts with you all, but I felt compelled to share them; in hopes that one of you mamas realizes that you are not alone in your thinking, you are not a bad mom and that what you feel is normal.
While I was pregnant with our baby girl, Avary, I knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I was working as a childcare provider at the time, and–while I loved my job–I didn’t want to care for someone else’s child while missing out on my own. I always wanted to be a mom, for as long as I could remember. I fantasized about all the amazing things I would get to do as a stay-at-home mom–dress the baby in the most adorable clothes (that would somehow never get dirty), breastfeed the baby peacefully, clean the house, get a workout in with the baby, take the dog for a walk with the baby, do the laundry, go shopping with the baby; oh, and start all those cute DIY projects I pinned from Pinterest, bake delicious pies and cookies like the Pioneer Woman, and have a scrumptious dinner waiting for my husband when he got home every night. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I truly thought I would be able to accomplish all of these things as a stay-at-home mom because I thought I would have so much “extra time.” Well, and, all those mama Instagram feeds I stalked showed women with their perfectly dressed children playing or sleeping peacefully on their white furniture, while the mom-in full glam makeup and spit-up-less clothes-was knitting, or doing something so gloriously homemaker-ish. Soon after being a SAHM, I realized that all these things were not a reality for me. But what I am beginning to realize is that what I see on Instagram and on blogs is not the reality of someone’s 24/7 life, but just snippets–just a tiny glimpse of their everyday life. Just like a new movie puts out previews–showing all the best scenes–you have to remember that social media is much the same. It is so easy for us moms to get sucked into this vicious cycle of comparisons-whether it be to other SAHM’s, WAHM’s or working moms-vying for the title of whose job is “the hardest” or “the easiest.” Instead of being united in motherhood, united in the understanding that being a mama is one of life’s hardest roles, we feel discontent because we want to be like ‘that mom.’ When the truth is, you are the very best mom your babies need.
Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. And it is a full-time job. Except with this job, you don’t punch in or out, and you don’t get a lunch break. This is a 24/7 job. Don’t get me wrong, I love my baby girl, but I have days where I get burnt out. . . Sometimes I get jealous of working moms who get to leave the house and actually have adult conversations/interactions during the day; because, what no one tells you about being a SAHM is how lonely it can be. It can be so lonely and isolating. Because of my husband’s job, I spend 48-72 hours alone with Avary. On these days, I don’t get a break at all. I feed her, change her, entertain her, play with her, love on her teach her, bathe her, put her to bed. I do it all, and it is exhausting some day. I would feel such a huge sense of mommy-guilt on these days when I would find myself thinking, ‘I just want a break! I just want 5 minutes to myself!’ But the truth is, we all feel that way sometimes! We all need a break sometimes. I never realized how big of an investment motherhood was going to be. I say an investment; because, for (at least) 18 years of your child’s life, your job is to invest in them. Our job, as mothers, is to pour everything ounce of ourselves into our children to nurture them, teach them, motivate them, and raise them to be independent, inspired seekers of truth and followers of God. Wow, what a monumental task! So, when put in perspective, it’s OK to get burnt out. To be able to pour yourself into your children, you have to nurture yourself by filling up on God’s truths, by setting aside alone time, by getting out of the house with the girls so you can adult for a little bit!
When you feel lonely and isolated and the only ‘person’ you have talked to all day is a 6 month old or a toddler, call a friend! Talk on the phone, take a walk, go to the park and talk to another mommy, set up a mommy/baby playdate, go to storytelling at the library, Facetime your mama or your husband, read the Word. . . I’ve found that I have to intentionally create moments that I am engaged with something or someone to combat the loneliness.
When you feel inadequate and “less-than,” when you’re covered in spit-up or your toddler’s lunch, when you still have on the yoga pants and sweatpants you wore to bed, when you’re having a “family potty party” because you have to go but the kids are always in tow, when you don’t think you can sing one more nursery rhyme or listen to “Let It Go” again, when you’re tired of nursing, feeding, changing, wiping, playing, entertaining, and-parenting. . . Remember that to those precious little faces, you are more than enough! To them, you are superwoman!
We all have good days and bad days, that’s life. But try to focus on the good ones. Some days, I feel so tired of nursing and just want my boobs to myself! But usually Avary will look up at me and smile a big grin with milk trickling down her mouth, and I feel so grateful that I even get to feed her! Some days, I feel so discouraged that Avary won’t sleep, but then I feel so lucky that she still wants me to rock her to sleep. Some days, I get jealous and discontent that my house is my “cubicle,” but then I remember the countless women who would give anything to be in my shoes, and I feel blessed.
Don’t let being a SAHM isolate you or depress you or minimize you or discourage you. Your job and role as a mother will have a lasting impact, and it truly matters. My desire is to embrace this season of motherhood to the fullest-with all its flaws and shortcomings; because, it’s just that-a season, that is so fleeting and will be gone before I know it.
No, being a stay-at-home is not at all what I thought it was going to be. It’s long and taxing and tiring, emotionally-draining and physically-exhausting, but oh so very sweet. The truth about being a stay-at-home mom is that you’ll love it, and you’ll hate it. And you won’t want to change a single thing.