Confession: Being A Stay-At-Home-Mom Just Isn’t For Me

I have a confession to make, and some of you might cast immediate judgement—I truly do not like being a stay-at-home mom.  Thinking back, I’m not quite sure what my original plan was, six-and-a-half years ago, when I had Man.  At that time, I was a speech therapist working with the elderly population in nursing homes.  I told them that I would be returning after four months, but in the recesses of my mind I wasn’t convinced.  When Man turned three-months old, I barely knew how to take care of him myself, let alone teach someone else how to do it in my absence.  Therefore, I resigned from my job with the plan of returning to the workforce when he was one.

Surprise!  When he was nine-months old, I became pregnant with Lady.  It seemed unrealistic to go back to work for just six months before leaving so I again delayed my return to work.  I told myself that I would give Lady the same whole year that I gave Man.

Flash forward a bit to Lady’s first birthday and it grew obvious that Man was not like other children.  His then-undiagnosed ADHD and SPD made him VERY dangerous.  You must believe me when I say I literally could not take my eyes off him for fear that he was either in mortal danger or putting his sister in danger.  At that time in his life he was climbing on counters, getting into ovens, running out of the front door of the house daily, and unplugging any wire he could get his hands on.  He was one of those children who defied the laws of babyproofing.  I was his babyproofing.

As the years went on he remained dangerous in many ways and I just didn’t trust someone else to take care of him.  If he pushed some kid down the slide at a park, I, his mother, needed to be there to smooth over the destruction.  I know how overwhelmed I felt taking care of two toddlers, and I felt that there was no way I could ask someone else could do it.  Maybe, in the back of my mind, I was just scared to return to work after three-and-a-half years away, and this provided an adequate excuse.

Man entered Kindergarten last year, and in many ways life became easier. However, I had grown so unhappy over the years that the thought of going back to a job that I didn’t love seemed intolerable.  I had always wanted children.  There was never a doubt in my mind that starting a family was one of my number one goals in life.  So, imagine my surprise when after some soul searching I realized that being a stay-at-home-mother was not for me.  It took me six long years to admit that to myself.  I was under the impression that once you had kids, you were supposed to enjoy taking care of them.  Sure, not every moment of every day, but yes, ultimately child rearing was supposed to be satisfying.  Personally, for me, it did not bring the level of daily satisfaction that I want out of life.

We scrimped to hire a babysitter and for the first time in six years I had a helping hand.  Over the past six months, I have never felt better.  Much of that is due to the fact that I am now able fill my days with something in addition to child rearing.  A few months ago, I made the decision to fulfill a lifelong dream and applied to schools for a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling.  I start school tomorrow and I could not be more excited.

Of course, because the world works this way, my babysitter is on vacation for two weeks while I am beginning school.  Therefore, my mother is coming to help with the kids while I am in class.  We were going over the schedule:

“Are you getting home first or is J (my husband)?” my mom asked.

“No, I won’t be home until about 9:30 in the evening, I have a board meeting at the place where I volunteer right after class.”

“Oh, well… how are the kids handling all of this, Laura?” she questioned in her most “I’m not judging you, but really I am judging you” tone.

“The kids will be fine.  They want me to be happy and being home with them all day did not make me happy.  They have had me all to themselves for six and a half years and now it’s my turn.”

‘Uh huh…” she replied and abruptly changed the conversation.

The change in conversation was her signal to let me know that she didn’t agree at all but wasn’t going to engage me in a debate.  In her eyes, staying at home is most important, and above anything else, my children need me whether I was happy or not.  And P.S.- children are the light of a mother’s life, so why wasn’t I just happy?!

I disagree.  I feel I have been there for them and will continue to be there for them every day of their lives.  I love them so much, that I put my own feelings aside to fulfill the obligation of being their parent.  I thought that that was what was most important.  But, after a few years, I wasn’t being the mom I could be.  I was a shell of myself going through the motions.  I wasn’t present and I certainly was not giving them the mother they deserved.

I don’t like being a-stay-at-home mom and spending my days being at the beck and call of my children and my household.  I hate running them from activity to activity and bringing them to play dates just to sit and watch them play with another child.  I get bored after about five minutes of pretend play; please, PLEASE, do not make me serve fake food to that imaginary family one more time. Pretty please?  I do not want to beg anyone to eat his dinner anymore, standing over him imploring him to eat one single bite after one single bite.  I just can’t do it anymore.  I feel guilt and shame even admitting this because it makes me feel like I’m a horrendous mother, but I want to spend some of my days doing something else that stimulates me differently.  It’s what I need to be a happy person.  And as a happy person I will be a better parent when I am with them.  It’s not as though I don’t love my children and garner great joy from them, of course I do, but that joy is even greater, even more valuable, when I’m doing tasks outside of parenting.

So tomorrow, I turn my family upside down to do something just for me.  I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Well, if you didn’t want to take care of your kids, then why did you have them?” And the truth is, I feel very selfish doing this.  Nevertheless, I also know that I have no chance of being truly happy if I don’t.  I know I am no less dedicated to them as I was when I was staying at home all day; I am still caring for them.  I am showing them that it is never too late to follow a dream, while working towards creating the happiest home I can for them.  In my heart, I know I will still be here for them—I will still be their mom. I will make sure that they feel loved and cared for and if they need me, no matter what I’m doing, I will be there.  But I will no longer be resentful.

27 thoughts on “Confession: Being A Stay-At-Home-Mom Just Isn’t For Me

  1. I get what you are saying. I stayed at for three years and was not all sunshine and roses. Both my kids were special needs but I was getting burnt out and wanted adult conversation. I do understand and am glad you are honest with yourself. Yep there will be haters but when you are personally happy then you in turn will be a better Mom to your kids. Well all right that is my honest opinion at least.

  2. I totally understand it! my mom only spent like 5 years babysit me, and when she figured out that was not her wanted, she compromised and started back her business. You should never feel selfish of doing what makes you feel good. ❤

  3. I left my job after we adopted our daughter. I didnt have a great career since i dropped out of graduate school because of a seizure & memory loss, so i was an administrative assistant for a law firm. I am not in love with staying home. I’ve been on the search for meaningful volunteer work for quite a while now. So, I’ve joined clubs & groups, but do i miss a pay check? Heck yeah. Good luck with school!

    • I have done a lot of volunteer work recently as well. It does give me some satisfaction but I’m excited to be pursuing something I’m passionate about. And yes, that will eventually provide a paycheck!

  4. I feel the same way. I just started school yesterday to reenter the work force. My kids were very excited to hear about my day at school. I’m not ready to go full time yet but admire your courage to jump all in!

  5. I nominated you for the Mystery Blogger Award. No pressure, just fun. So if you don’t do awards that’s okay : ) I wanted to share your blog with others since I enjoy reading it! Best wishes!

  6. That’s a struggle that I think about everyday. I’ve had to sacrifice my career to facilitate my husband’s and take care of our son; I thought I would eventually grow into the role and love doing it but I still find myself yearning for outside the home. I finally have the opportunity to go back to work later this year but I feel guilty sometimes for wanting to.

  7. I absolutely LOVE your honesty! Not just for your readers, but for yourself. It is such a huge and enormous relief to be able to recognize when something isn’t working in your life, and then actually being able to do something about it. I completely understand where you are coming from, too. Being a SAHM has changed who I am (some ways for better, some for worse). I have lost myself. I don’t know who I am anymore. Next year all three of my children will be in school, so I’m looking forward to when I can rediscover my place in the world. 🙂

  8. Good luck with the school it may even give you more insight into your son. I think the ideal would be if you worked at a job you loved and came home fulfilled and with more energy to help your kids, then the babysitter & teachers might get immense satisfaction & a feeling of fulfillment from working with your children. Then lots of people would be happy. This is what I think many people miss; while you torture yourself feeding a pretend family because you think you should there is someone out there that gets a giant kick out of playing pretend. Everyone is different and if you can get the right person for the job, good for you. 🙂

  9. I completely understand! I’ve been a SAHM for 2 years now and I’m craving for things to keep me distracted ! Since my daughter is so communication delayed with her ASD she was able to get in head start for social interaction with peers and since then I’ve founded me an at home business and I thank God for it. It’s like therapy and keeps my mind off of other things and gives me an opportunity to love what I do! So follow what makes you happy and comfortable!

  10. I dropped out of college two courses away from my degree because… lots of loaded reasons that to this day I still don’t fully understand. I think a large part of it is because at the time I was suffering from postpartum psychosis that wasn’t diagnosed until almost 5 or 6 years later. Turns out it’s because I’m Bipolar and I’m struggling with recovery.

    We are more than just being a parent. We are a sibling. We are son. We are a daughter. We are a spouse too. We are so many things. We are our own individual person. We are a 3D entity.

    When we allow ourselves to become that one dimensional being (whether it’s just a parent or just an employee or just a caregiver) we lose a HUGE sense of self. It creates a hole in our lives. The people who are truly happy being stay at home parents are the ones that still have that sense of three dimensions in their being. They have found that balance that works for them that meets their needs. And that’s great. But not everyone can do that as a stay at home parent. That doesn’t make it wrong. It should never make it wrong.

    We are not cookies. We are people with different needs that must be met. And we need to remember that. And if our needs as parents are not being met, then we are not at our best. And if we are not at our best, then how can we meet the needs of our children?

    You do you. Get your needs met. Take care of yourself. In the long run it will be what’s best for your children.

  11. The age old “stay home/career mom” debate. It’s as time as the bottlefeed/breastfeed debate. Or screentime/no screentime debate. You do what you feel is right. Good for you to go back to school for your Masters.

  12. First of all, congratulations on going back to school! You’re very brave and strong. I love the fact that, for the first time in 6 years, you’re giving yourself something. You deserve every bit of it. I will be rooting for you! I’m sure you’re an amazing mother and that doesn’t mean you have to be happy being a stay at home mom. Some women love it and some don’t, and that’s okay. Your mother is probably judging you because she’s from a different generation and cannot understand the fact that a mom needs something else other than her children. They will be fine. And you will be better. You will still be mom, but a happy, fulfilled mom. You made the right choice and I (a stranger from the internet) support you 100%. Would love to read updates about how school is going. xo

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