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I was recently having a conversation with a very successful, childless friend about what it was like as a working new mom. And she made a comment about how she felt it was lazy to be a stay at home mom. Lazy. One more time for the people in the back, L-A-Z-Y. Now to be fair, she has no idea what it’s really like. And she was making a judgement from her own perceptions and under the assumption that moms who don’t work live the easy life at home. After I picked up my jaw off the floor, I managed to deliver a somewhat poised response. I calmly told her “In my humble, but experienced opinion, I think staying at home is almost harder than going to work.”
I think there is a huge misconception about what it’s like to be a stay at home parent. And with that it has to also be incredibly difficult to work full-time and be a full-time mom every second you’re out of the office. That’s a huge life balance right there. But lets not discount how challenging it is to stay home every. single. day. And think about the difficult decision they had to make. Pre-baby they may have had a full-time career that they worked really hard to get (and keep). And once that beautiful bundle of joy arrived they had to decide to abandon their day job to stay home and make sure their baby was well taken care. It’s a wonderful decision to be able to make, but hard nonetheless.
I’m not a stay at home mom, but I also don’t work full-time. I’m a part-time teacher so I can tell you what it’s like to be a stay at home mom because that’s exactly what I am during the summer months. And I do genuinely love being with my little Bean all day. Our morning is pretty routine. Bean wakes up, and he sips milk in between shouting and squealing at the golfers on tv because the day can not start for him until the Golf channel has been turned on (I can’t even begin tell you how happy this makes my husband). MC is always home when Bean wakes up so they get to cuddle and play for a bit before he leaves for the day. Once MC does take off, it’s the saddest part of our day and it’s my realization that I’m on my own for the next 8-10 hours. Me and the Bean. I try to fill our morning with some sort of outing because sitting in the house all day can be mind-numbing. But with that decision, also comes the struggle of getting myself dressed and presentable enough to be seen in public and squeezing Bean into the cleanest outfit in his closet. I try to do all this while making sure Bean isn’t trying to spray Windex in his mouth or “washing” his hands in the guest toilet. So what took 20 minutes pre-Bean, now takes 45 minutes (at least) before our feet touch the outside world. For instance, Monday we took a trip to the mall. We were there for literally 15 minutes because, alas, I forgot my wallet at home in the midst of the chaos. In total our trip there and back again took 90 minutes. 90 minutes! For a 15 minute trip to the mall.
After a morning outing, I cook lunch for Bean (not me). If he’s having an off day, that means he cries until I pick up him to let him see everything I’m doing. So try cooking, with one hand, while balancing a 28 pound toddler on your hip who wants to grab everything in sight. Then we play while I wait for his second poop of the morning before getting him ready for his one nap of the day. Once I snuggle and kiss him to sleep I pray his nap lasts more than an hour so I can just have a little me time. But then I walk downstairs and see the state of our kitchen and living room and the guilt floods in. I know while Bean sleeps I should take the time to clean up, but that is literally the last thing I want to do. So instead I live with the guilt, turn the tv on and write a new blog post (but only after I cruise Instagram and add 10 things to my Amazon shopping cart without checking out). Once Bean wakes up we play and eat everything in the pantry. Then the countdown begins until MC is home. That’s when I rip around our living room and kitchen trying to clean up the tsunami that hit every surface of our home. And put dishes in the dishwasher while simultaneously grabbing every knife out of Bean’s hands that he’s pulled from the flatware basket. But it doesn’t end there. When MC arrives home, it only gives me an opportunity to figure out what I’m going to make for dinner for the three of us, which usually consists of three separate, completely different meals. Then it’s more playing, some milk, more golf, bath and bed.
I know I’ll look back and be thankful for every second I got to spend with Bean, but it is no easy feat to keep a baby happy and entertained all day. And all the while trying to keep your own sanity in tact.
And just like I’ve had a taste of being a stay at home mom, I also have experience being a working mom. I’ve experienced the heavy guilt of letting others take care of my baby all day. All the while I can’t stop worrying if he’s being watched every second, if he’s getting enough food, if he’s being read to like I do, if he’s being cuddled and loved before his nap like I do. Is his tush being wiped properly? Is his diaper being changed often enough? Does he know we haven’t left him forever? Is he happy? It’s all I can think about all day. But at the same time, when I do go to work, I get to finish my cup of coffee while it’s still hot. I don’t have to put it in the microwave three times and inevitably forget that it’s in there. And if I want to run out for lunch, I can do that in under thirty minutes while only having myself to worry about. I also get to have full conversations with people who can actually respond, although I do love a good Bean convo because he just says “yeah” to everything I ask him. The hardest part, for me, is getting home fast enough so I can spend every possible minute with Bean before he goes to sleep. But I’m also infinitely more exhausted on those days. So when I finally do get home, I’m secretly looking at the clock to see how much longer until I can put Bean to bed and turn my brain off. And the guilt I carry when I have those thoughts is excruciating, but I’m here to be honest. And when he finally does go to bed, all I do is miss him and hurt from not being with him all day.
I’m so incredibly thankful that I have the choice to stay home part-time. I don’t think I could bare to work full-time because I don’t think I would have the energy to spend genuine time with my Bean at the end of each day. Can you imagine? Every day would be hustling from 9-5 (ha, but seriously probably 8-6) while someone else, a grandparent or daycare worker, raises your child. And then after putting in the hours at some mind-numbing job, you rush home to cook dinner, pack lunch, maybe even breakfast, for the following day, put your baby to sleep and then maybe, just maybe, you can pour yourself a deep glass of wine. Kudos to you full-timers.
And to all you full-time stay at homes. You’re so lucky. You get to spend every waking second with your babies. You get to play with them, eat with them, kiss them, all day, anytime you want. How amazing is that? I guarantee no one looks back and regrets staying home just like no one looks back and wishes they would have worked more. And don’t let anyone make you feel like what you do is “lazy” because holy sh*t. You have the toughest job. You are responsible for raising kind, selfless, empathetic humans who will, one day, run this world. And you also have to keep them entertained every day, and that, my friend, is a job in itself.
Love to all you full time mommies and full time working mommies. You are ALL the most amazing humans.
About Sasha Croswell
Sasha Croswell is an Elementary Teaching Coach and contributing writer to Little Guide Detroit. She also writes for her own mom-centered blog, Family Bean. Sasha lives in Bloomfield with her husband Matt and son Charlie. They love exploring the city of Detroit or they’re content spending their days outside walking around the city, running around a park or enjoying a cold cocktail on a patio.