Truth – Being a stay-at-home mom/parent is not the hardest job.
Being a parent is the hardest job.
But compared to a full-time job outside the home, my current gig is pretty sweet. I’m feeling some guilt over having the privilege of being able to stay at home for the moment.
I know some of you are thinking I’m crazy. I never pictured myself staying at home with babies either. When I was younger I always envisioned I would be a high-profile career woman striding down the hallways of a big office in heels and a pencil skirt. If I had children they would be in daycare and I would perfectly balance every aspect of my life.
That is not how my life turned out, and I’m okay with it!
Not every day is smiles and rainbows when staying home with a baby; especially when your baby is the fussiest baby on the planet. But there are no unhappy clients (or at least I can’t be fired) and no annoying co-workers. No dwelling all day and all night over a work-related problem. I don’t have to wake up early to commute over snow and ice covered roads. No important meetings, conference calls, or technology issues. I no longer get stress migraines. I don’t have to wear heels and nylons!!
The Grass is Sometimes Greener
Staying at home is not for everyone. In fact, I often miss working. I don’t ever have a kick-butt day anymore. Selfishly, I miss getting praise from colleagues or bosses for a job well done. Before I moved back to Wisconsin I had the perfect work situation. I worked part-time and nanny-shared with my boss. Unfortunately, I am not going to find that arrangement again anytime soon. Instead, I am going to remind myself of all the advantages I get to enjoy while staying at home.
– I sometimes don’t get dressed (even though I feel better when I do).
– I can eat whenever I want.
– I can also go to the bathroom whenever I want (this never happened when I was a teacher!).
– I get to read for pleasure.
– If I feel sick, I can slack – no substitute plans!
– I can schedule appointments (doctor, dentist, hair, etc) for whenever I want.
– I can take our daughter to fun activities during the day.
– I get to see our daughter grow and learn every day.
Because of these advantages I feel guilty. I am not bringing in any income, a very strange feeling for me. If I worked outside the home, our family could be taking more vacations and we wouldn’t have to think about every single purchase we make. We could be saving more money for our future. So many families don’t have the option to have a parent stay at home. I get that! I’m not sure how long we’ll be able to manage on one income.
I feel guilty our daughter isn’t getting more socialization or learning opportunities. If she were in daycare, our daughter might be learning more than she currently is just staying home with me. I try to get her out of the house for playgroups and storytimes, but we don’t have a structured schedule. On the other hand, Cora has only had one cold this first year of her life. ONE COLD – that’s it! With this year’s flu season I’m grateful she isn’t around germ-infested kids every single day.
I might be a better wife if I worked outside the home. When my husband arrives after work I switch to “off-the-clock” mode. It is his turn to play with our daughter because I was with her all day. But if I were working, Cora’s nighttime routine would be more of a shared responsibility. My husband might get more of a break on weekends to relax because I’d be so excited for mommy/daughter time. Some days I think my day was rougher than my husband’s, in fact I know it was, but is it fair that he picks up all the parenting slack at night and on weekends because I am a stay-at-home parent?
Lastly, I feel guilty I am not better at this job. My house is rarely clean. I don’t exercise any more than I used to when I was working full-time. My meals haven’t gotten any healthier. Dinner is never ready when my husband walks in the door. I am not creating super fun and educational activities for my daughter every day. In fact, Daniel Tiger makes an almost daily appearance. Sometimes I don’t feel as if I accomplish enough each day to make staying at home justifiable.
But I am happy.
All this guilt has provided me with an excellent reminder to enjoy this time staying at home while it lasts.