Ah, the perfect stay-at-home mom. The fictional woman whom we all hold ourselves up to as the standard of motherhood. The mom who has perfectly dressed kids, a clean house and managed to apply mascara. The embodiment of a completely attainable dream, right? *insert sarcasm*
We’re moms at home all day, we should be able to be the perfect moms, right? Well, that’s kinda what I thought for a while.
I thought that I should be able to do it ALL if I could just be home with my kids.
When I was working outside the home, I would day-dream, surely I would be able to (insert fantasy SAHM scenario) if I were home all day!
Boy, was I delusional.
I’ve worked either part or full-time since my now three-year-old was born (with a brief stint as a work from home paralegal somewhere in there). Through it all, I always wanted to be a SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom). I finally got to be SAHM with my second baby boy thanks to the generosity and sacrifice of my long-suffering husband to whom I will be forever grateful.
I have been home two months with my newborn baby. And I love it! Truly and completely. It is absolutely my calling and vocation. But… it’s not at all how I pictured SAHM life would go for me.
As a newly SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) and aspiring WAHM (Work-At-Home-Mom) romance writer, I’m still figuring things out. Like how to open a bottle of water with one hand while breastfeeding. Or how to get the infant car seat straps to tighten without trying it five million times (!!!!!). However, to my credit, I have mastered the 6 minute shower.
Some days I feel like I have it all together. Other days, I feel exhausted and behind. And, despite the undeniably challenging circumstances surrounding being a SAHM mom to an infant and a toddler (including a long stint of c-section recovery), I’m actually surprised at myself when I feel exhausted by my efforts. I’ll even feel guilty for being exhausted. Being at home is supposed to be easy, right?
There is no doubt that I am happier now than I have ever been before. And I’m certainly happier now that I’m not working full-time and leaving my babies with someone else, regardless of how caring the “someone else” is. A couple years back, my loving mother-in-law kept my first baby for me when I had to go back to work. She’s amazing, but that didn’t stop the tears and panic attacks I experienced every work day by leaving my baby for a desk job.
Even though I now have my “dream job” of being SAHM (along with writing my romance novels) there are challenges that I did not fully anticipate in full-time-mommy land.
I did NOT anticipate what I would expect of myself versus what I could feasibly do.
I Expected to Keep a Perfect House
The table was going to be set every night with a home cooked meal and a table cloth. My floors would be spotless and the toys would be put away.
Fast forward to reality…forget a table cloth and insert leftovers for dinner. I’m lucky enough that my husband loves to cook. But, we can’t even eat at the table most nights because my half-folded mountain of laundry is piled on it!
I Expected My Parenting to be Perfect
My kids would sit quietly on the couch and listen as I read Watership Down from a pristine library book. Then we would all go outside where they would help me plant my seasonal garden. My baby would coo happily at me from his place in my hip and stylish baby-wearing wrap.
I’m way too exhausted to fight for a lengthy story time. My infant is crying and my three-year-old kid keeps turning the pages on the picture book I’m trying to read to him. I can’t get out the two whole sentences printed on each page before he turns each page on me. I’m too tired from being awake every thirty minutes the night before with a nursing infant to fight him, but I give it a try. Then, the baby poops. While I change him my toddler wanders off having listened to what amounts to about twelve words of book.
And a keeping a garden? *phbtt*
I can’t keep one pot of flowers from dying much less a garden of vegetables.
I Expected Myself to Have Perfect Time Management
I would be up and ready to go promptly at 6am and get 500 words of writing in before my baby woke to quietly breastfeed as we stared lovingly into each other’s eyes.
6am was when I finally got the baby to go back to sleep. No way was I dragging my sorry butt out of bed. I could make to my 8am appointment it if I slept til 7…right? *snore*
I Expected to be Perfectly Organized
I thought I could leave paperwork behind at my desk job.
I’ve done so much paperwork every day for my kids in addition to regular bill paying, taxes and insurance junk that I’m starting to wonder if I’m their mother or their secretary! I have a huge pile of unsorted various papers piled in boxes waiting to be filed and my desk is always covered with papers associated with a mile long to-do list.
WAHM/SAHM life is not easy. It can seem like you’re spinning your wheels or even spinning out of control.
In the middle of the craziness while listening to both kids screaming at once, I took a breath and remembered something crucial.
Even on the hard days, being a WAHM/SAHM allows me to be there for my kids and my family when they need me most. And I deeply appreciate this gift…
This SAHM/WAHM gig may not be easy, it may be 24/7, and it’s certainly not something I will ever achieve perfection with, but I wouldn’t trade with anyone.
It’s not about perfection. It’s about being there for the people you love the most.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed as a SAHM? Comment below…