Can I Be Honest? Sometimes, I Get Jealous


Dear Stay-at-Home Mom,

Can I be honest? Sometimes, I get jealous of you.

Like, when I picture your mornings, minus the chaos of hustling kids out the door to daycare. I picture breakfasts eaten without staring at the clock, maybe a morning kids’ show, everyone still in PJs. I see you taking the kids to the zoo or the park or the lake mid-morning, snapping selfies with them and texting your husband the funny thing your oldest said. I see you throwing a load of laundry in the dryer when you get home (or whenever you WANT!), playing goofy games with the kids over lunch, eating food you didn’t have to pack at 11 PM the night before.

When the youngest goes down for a nap, I see you getting things done around the house, or working on your in-home business, or bonding with your oldest over a craft project. I see you witnessing every milestone and every funny moment, amassing memories that will make you smile years from now. I see you, glowing and healthy from days spent outside, chatting up the other moms at the park or the library or the gym, wearing whatever the heck you want, never going to boring department meetings, never realizing mid-day that you forgot to put deodorant on and can’t do a thing about it…

It all seems so nice, as I sit in my cramped, sunless office, stressing about the project I’m way over my head in and wondering what my kids are doing right now (that I’m missing).

But don’t worry. I know there’s more to it than that.

I know you also deal with meltdowns, and picky eaters, and fighting over toys (over everything), and long, lonely days where you’re way over-touched and you don’t talk to a single person over the age of 4. I know there are rainy days, snowy days, teething days, and inexplicably-crazy-kids days. I know you go to the same park a bazillion times a week, repeat the same phrases to your kids all day, play the same games over and over, and prepare and clean up SO MUCH food.

I know you’re desperate for alone time and adult time, and I know you feel guilty when you take that out on the kids. I know you think about your education and your pre-kids career, and you wonder if you’re doing the right thing. I know you wish you could contribute more financially. I know you worry that you’re pouring so much of yourself into your kids that you might lose sight of who you are.

I guess I just wanted to let you know that I see you, and I recognize the sacrifices you’re making for your family. It’s easy for me to focus on the highlights of your life—the things I’m personally missing out on—but I know that’s not the full picture.

The truth is, neither of our lives is perfect or easy, but they’re both pretty dang awesome—just in slightly different ways.

I see you, and I support you. Keep it up, girl!

Love,

Working Mom


Dear Working Mom,

Can I be honest? Sometimes, I get jealous of you.

Like, when I picture your mornings, sipping a still-hot latte, alone at your quiet desk. I see you going to important meetings, talking to important people about important things (or at least, talking to adults about adult things). I see you grabbing lunch with your coworkers, gossiping about the office, maybe on an outdoor patio, maybe over some giant salads and still-cold iced teas. I see you giving presentations, in that cute tailored blazer you have, speaking eloquently and confidently to a room of people who respect your ideas.

I see you planning out your days (and having that actually be a useful endeavor), working on projects that interest and challenge you, getting recognized for your hard work from your peers and superiors. I see you traveling for work—sitting on a plane (ALONE!), staying in a nice hotel room, eating dinner on someone else’s dime. I see how proud you are of your career, how good it makes you feel. I see how extra special the time you spend with your kids is—the way you’re eager to pour into them in the evenings and on weekends, the way you treasure every minute…

It all seems so nice, as I sit here eating leftover cold chicken nugget bits off my son’s plate, half-heartedly yelling at the kids to stop tackling each other and preemptively beating myself up for all the TV I know I’m going to let them watch later.

But don’t worry. I know there’s more to it than that.

I know that you still feel guilty sometimes after dropping off your kids, especially when they cling to you and cry. I know you envy the person who gets to spend their days with your children, seeing the funny things they do and hearing the funny things they say. I know you hate being stuck in your office on a beautiful day, wondering what your kids are up to and wishing you could be part of it.

I know it’s hard at the end of the day, when everyone’s tired and hungry and cranky, and you’re desperately cobbling dinner together before the frantic rush of baths and bedtime, and you SO wish it could be different because those are the only precious hours you get together as a family. I know it sucks to have to cram all the housework and errands into the weekends. I know you get lonely when you travel, and all the nice dinners and hotel rooms in the world can’t compete with those little faces at home that you can’t kiss goodnight. I know you miss your kids, and you wonder if you’re doing the right thing.

I guess I just wanted to let you know that I see you, and I recognize the sacrifices you’re making for your family. It’s easy for me to focus on the highlights of your life—the things I’m personally missing out on—but I know that’s not the full picture.

The truth is, neither of our lives is perfect or easy, but they’re both pretty dang awesome—just in slightly different ways.

I see you, and I support you. Keep it up, girl!

Love,

Stay-at-Home Mom

Note:

This post was written by a woman who’s been a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, and a work-from-home mom. She’s felt the unique joys and challenges of each, and is here to scream from the rooftops: none of them were easy. None were perfect. And definitely, none came without guilt.

There’s always greener grass somewhere, and always will be. Don’t forget to look down at your feet from time to time–the ground you’re standing on right now is actually pretty awesome.

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Kim grew up in Minnesota, but moved to Madison to attend the UW and fell in love with the city’s spirit and culture. She's married with three sweet kiddos - Mason, Joshua, and Leah. When she’s not racing monster trucks across furniture or pretending to be interested in video games, she’s working on freelance writing projects or teaching strength training classes through her small fitness business, Lioness Fitness. Kim's a food allergy mom, which means she can read a food label like nobody’s business. She's also a sucker for good wine, good sushi, a good book, and ANY beach.

112 COMMENTS

  1. I understand the point of this article and it is a very nice message. I do have to say that not all moms have regrets, envy or think the grass is greener on the other side. Not all moms feel like they have to “deal” with their baby acting like a baby or their child acting like a child. I do not live in la la land thinking my child is perfect, but to me..my child is pretty freaking amazing meltdowns and all. I love ALL of the moments we share, the crying the giggles..I love it all. I can’t be the only mom that doesn’t worry about the “what if’s”. I know not everyone is able to figure out a way to spend more that just evenings and weekends with their kids, or maybe they would rather not and that’s okay. I know lots of very loving parents that work outside of the home with 9-5ish mon-fri. jobs and they are amazing parents and amazing people in general. My only point is that not all of us moms wonder if we are making a mistake, working or not working. I know I made the right decision for me and my family because I can feel it in every once of my body. And for all of the working outside the home moms, you do what you feel in your heart and know that no one’s grass is greener than yours if you are truly making the best choice for you and your family.

  2. I agree with The last comment – This was NOT about judging The “other” mom ( Whether you actively made The decision or not- a Lot of Times there Is only one way). I think this article also Applies to one parent Staying at Home And The other one working. we Are all just trying to find Balance in life. This was written by a Mom who has been on Both sides And She describes her experiences- She has Seen good days And Bad days … Like every Single one of us- SO WHY DONT WE STOP judging others For what they are. Why don’t we spread LOVE And SUPPORT, embrace that we Are all different, accept that we make different decisions in our lives.

  3. Hi All,
    I have had several roles that this article relates to. I’ve been a “SAHM” when I lost my job, a “Nanny” for several families, some with two working parents, some that both parents worked because they couldn’t afford not to both work, some parents that both worked because they wanted to and then one parent who worked because he was widowed and needed to but he also worked because he wanted to. I have also worked for multi million dollar companies and left my child with a care-taker because I couldn’t afford to be a “SAHM.” I truly can relate to most sides. Before being in each role I didn’t have an unbiased opinion. It’s almost impossible not to be judgmental unless you truly experience what each person is going through or has been through. I don’t blame anyone who’s disagreeing with someone else, as most likely they just haven’t had all of the different life experiences to truly understand appreciate where the other person is coming from. As someone who always wanted to stay at home with their child as a “SAHM” that was not an option for me as a single mom. My plan was to stop my career and be a “SAHM” once I gave birth. Being a “SAHM” seemed like the greatest job in the world to me. Well, life doesn’t always work out as planned. The longer you live, the more you will realize that. My now ex-husband who was the primary breadwinner decided to have an affair and leave his wife and 1 month old child to fend for themselves to start a life with his mistress. From my personal experience, it was heart breaking for me to have to leave my child with a care taker and not in my personal opinion “live the dream” and be a “SAHM.” I wanted to be there to solely raise my child and experience everything my child did. I thought that no one else could possibly love my child as much as me and be as good of a caretaker. Well, that’s not true. I don’t like to admit it, but I was wrong. His caretaker was excellent and loved him as if he were her own. I couldn’t afford to be a “SAHM” and felt guilty for leaving him but knew that he was in good hands and I was doing what I had to so I could financially support us. Now I’m not saying it was any easier leaving him and that I didn’t wish I could of have the option to afford to stay with him all day, as I would of loved that. It doesn’t make me a bad mom for not being a “SAHM” as I did what was best for my child. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t jealous of all of my friends who in my opinion had the luxury of be able to afford and chose to stay at home to be the one to see their child every second of the day and experience everything with them, because my personal preference was to be a “SAHM.” Ironically though, some of my friends were jealous of me and said, “It was be so nice to have a break from your child and have such a rewarding, cool career!” I thought those were interesting comments. Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to both sides however it’s nice to have the option to be able to chose. I don’t think anyone could argue that it’s nice to be able to have the option to decide one way or another. A lot of people don’t have that option. It’s also very easy to judge those “SAHM/D’s” who are lucky enough to be able to afford to make the choice to do that if that was their wish. Instead of being jealous of them, I believe that we should be happy for them. Hopefully they are making a positive difference in their child’s life and the child benefits from being around a caretaker who wants to be around them all day. Hopefully everyone is happy. As hard as it may be, let’s be happy for them, even if we are feeling jealous! I know I am! I think that there are two kinds of people that aren’t stay at home Moms/Dads. Some aren’t “SAHM/D’s” out of necessity and some aren’t “SAHM/D’s” because they don’t want to be. There’s nothing wrong with either. Truly! Hear me out…I can see how it can be easy for some to negatively judge those aren’t “SAHM/D’s” because they don’t want to be and work because they enjoy it, even though they may be able to easily afford to be a “SAHM/D.” There’s nothing wrong with that. If they would prefer to work, and think that they are making a positive difference in the world, then they should. If they think that it is in their child’s and in their best interest to not be a “SAHM/D” then they shouldn’t be. It wouldn’t be fair to the child to be around someone who would rather be somewhere else and it’s not fair to the person who would rather be somewhere else to be with their child all of the time. Also, some (not all) parent’s aren’t as good with kids as trained professional caretakers or people that are just naturally good with kids. It’s not those parents faults. Not every parent is born with strong parental instincts or knows what to do with a child all day. Not every parent wants to be with their child all day, has the patience to be with their child all day. Some parents may find it too challenging to be a “SAHM/D.” Some parents are just not that great at caring for their child all day. These are just some examples! Whatever the reason, it’s ok! Whatever the reason, in my opinion, we shouldn’t be so quick to negatively judge others and call each other negative names. The world needs more love and peace. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me and you!
    Some (not all) caretakers are excellent, and some (not all) do a better job raising that child then their parent who may chose or don’t have the option of choosing to not be around them all of the time. It doesn’t make them bad parents, they are actually being unselfish by making the choice that’s best for everyone. I also have had the position as the caretaker for families and I can say that some (not all) parents need a break from their kids for their own sanity and it’s actually in the child’s and parents best interest that the parent wasn’t a “SAHP.” I was able to give the child love and affection that the parent didn’t have the energy, patience or desire to give all of the time. That doesn’t make them bad parents for leaving their child with me. They made the choice that they thought was best for their child and that makes them great parents. I can also say that being with a child all day is exhausting physically and emotionally! Depending on the day being with a child/children all day was a lot harder than when I worked full time, for multi million dollar companies. I can also say that the stress from working for multi million dollar companies was something that was also physically and emotionally exhausting! It’s not easy not being a “SAHM/D” either. For a short period of time I was a “SAHM” when I had lost my job and it was the hardest and most rewarding job I ever had, as there isn’t any breaks, but I was able to be around my child all of the time which personally I enjoy, most of the time. I’m not saying that one job is easier than the other. They both are stressful, exhausting and not fun at times. So kudos to every Mom/Dad whether you are with your child all day or not whether you are a “SAHP” or not. Life is hard. Whether you are getting paid to work or not, you are working and hopefully doing what you think is best for you and your family. One choice isn’t better than the other or more selfish than the other. I applaud all working parents whether you are a “SAHP” or not, no matter what your choice is. Any good parent will chose what works best for their family and shouldn’t be negatively judged or belittled one way or another. Spread peace and love.

  4. This is an interesting article, and all the comments (read them all, whew!)
    I’ve gone through wanting a child and unable to have one (6 years of infertility, it took a major surgery and the loss of an ovary due to tumors to make it so I could have children), to a stay at home mom (was lucky to be able to stay/work at home until my son was 1), and then a working mom. My husband has been here the whole time and works but I’ve primarily be the bread winner in our family. It was a relief to go back to work after my son turned 1. And it was a stroke of luck that we were able to find a home daycare down the street from us that was amazing and reasonably priced.
    Now 7 years later, and one more child, my daughter is about to start kindergarten and my son 4th grade. I feel they are well adjusted for going to daycare, my daughter from the time she was 4 months old, they have met different people, done lots of things (zoo trips, activities from various educational programs, even vision screens from the shriners!), had a lot of amazing experiences, and this whole family loves them as a part of their family. My babysitter was in tears when I asked if she could do after school care for my daughter.
    As for me, my sanity is intact because of being able to get out of the house. There are times when I wish I didn’t HAVE to work, but it’s short lived. I really do like my job and helping people (I’m a social worker) is amazing and fulfilling on a level I’ve never known before. And the HAVE to work part? Well, with 2 incomes, well above minimum wage, after all the bills (just bills,: mortgage, electricity, water, garbage, phone, internet, insurance on the car, life insurance, car payment, daycare) are paid we have $700/month left over.
    $700/month sounds pretty good, right?
    Well, take $200/month off of that for gas and that leaves $500/month for food. That’s feeding 4 people on roughly $16 a day. It’s hard.
    I appreciate that there are some people who can afford to stay home and it’s amazing that they can.
    Not all people can.
    Am I jealous of stay at home parents, kind of, but mostly because they have the financial security that makes it an actual option.
    I work to provide my children a stable home, one where they can run around in the back yard and help me with the garden and the chickens, a place where they can ride their scooters and be kids. That makes it worth it to me. Otherwise we’d be in a cramped apartment in some ghetto worrying about all of our safety because that’s all we could afford. Or we’d be living with our parents. We DON’T want to go back to that.
    And bonus: I like my job. Some days I even love it. And I have friends at work. Honestly, if I wasn’t working I wouldn’t have any friends. My mental health is important too.

  5. This article is wonderful. For me I love being a stay at home mom. However i don’t always feel worthy of it or feel like people appreciate stay at home moms. I grew up in a household with parents who said education and jobs were the most important thing to have and do. I don’t compare myself to other moms but more of just what I’m providing to my family. I don’t feel like I’m contributing a lot to my family because I don’t bring in money. My husband luckily appreciates me even if I don’t have it in myself. My husband is the breadwinner in our family and he has way more experience and a better chance of getting a good salary than I will. I would be more than happy to work however at this time it is not feasible for me to work when my job would only cover the costs of daycare and nothing more hence why I’m a stay at home mom. My husbands salary covers our bills and that’s it so we don’t go out very much or do anything extravagant. It’s all about everyone’s situation and that life is unique for each of us. I don’t worry about others but I do put a lot of stress on myself. I love being a mommy and that is what is important in all of this. I wish on job applications that putting stay at home mom was considered something as well.

  6. This is a wonderful piece. Yet, in some of the comments, I still see women seeking to tear down other women. I see women seeking to put down others in order to feel elevated themselves. Let’s not do this to one another. Let us unite and edify.

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