Halfway into my maternity leave I was beginning to doubt my abilities of being a good stay at home mom. Now, as I prepare to return to work tomorrow, I’m almost certain I’d make a terrible stay at home mom.
I’ve been noticing differences in my daily routine working vs not working, while keeping in mind that I only had one kid before (not two) and I’ve been treating FMLA leave more like a vacation than a permanent situation (and I’ve been giving myself a bit of a break because hey, I just had a baby). That said, there are some things I love and some things I loathe.
There’s nothing as heavenly as sleeping in with my family. Since being home my daughter has started sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night. She wanders down the hall and into our room, then squeezes between my husband and I. By morning my son is snuggling with the three of us as well. I’m going to miss that this Saturday when I’m already sitting at my desk at 4:30am.
I love having the freedom to make the plans to do things whenever, and not having to work around my work schedule. I love being able to meet up with friends, stay up late, and not have to worry about waking up early for work the next day.
I love spending more time with my kids. My son is literally growing before my eyes, and he’s getting more expressive every day. He’s such an easy baby. Seriously perfect. And watching my daughter learn new things before my eyes is amazing. She is picking up so much and is like a little genius. I can’t get enough of them. No wait… I take that back I CAN.
You know how the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”? Well when you’re never absent, you can’t grow much fonder.
Being with kids all day every day from sunup to sundown is freaking exhausting. I like to think of myself as an extremely patient person but I’ve found my patience is wearing extremely thin these last few weeks.
As a working mother, when I’d hear stay at home moms say “I never get a break!” I wondered what in the world they meant. How hard can it be? And it’s not like I got a break. At work I was working and the moment I picked my kid up I was giving her 110% and doing the house stuff once I got home. Now that I’ve been home for a few months I can break it down.
When moms say “I don’t get a break” they mean “a break from my kids” and everyone needs a break from their kids. A break from constant questions, and requests, and demands, and meltdowns, and meal-making.
I had dreams of my time as a temporary stay at home mom being spent sewing my daughter dresses while she napped, or making delicious new meals together. But my daughter NEVER napped. So that sewing? Didn’t happen. Unless it was between the hours of 11pm and 2am. But by then I was more afraid of waking her up again, so I instead watched marathon shows on Netflix. Not glamorous, but it was something to do alone in relative peace and quiet.
And those meals? They’d happen occasionally but it didn’t put a pause to the constant requests for other things. If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I’m hungry.” I wouldn’t have to go back to work.
When stay at home moms claim working moms get time to themselves, what they mean is time away from the kids. Time where you’re not making another snack, or cleaning up another mess.
That’s another thing. The messes. I can’t stand cleaning. I thought it would be easier to stay on top of it if I had more time at home. No. It just makes me more aggravated every time my daughter throws something on the floor moments after we straightened up. When I’m working I can justify hiring a helper but when I’m not, I feel guilty and like I should be doing it. And it doesn’t help that every stay-at-home mom’s house I go to seems to always be clean. I don’t understand how you can keep on top of it and keep your sanity.
That work–All the cleaning and cooking that kind of comes with being a housewife is exactly what I hate. Being with my kids? Love it (though I could use an occasional break from them). All the domestic chores? Lothe.
Clean when the kids are in bed? Sure. But who wants to do that when you’re finally getting a quiet moment alone? Not me. Clean throughout the day? Yea, I guess, but it’s doing that between the requests, demands and meltdowns.
I wish there was a way I could work half as much but make the same amount and see my kids more, but not too much.
I enjoy working, and I enjoy my kids.
Moms aren’t cut out from a batch of dough into perfect little cookie-cutter shapes. We all have different experiences, passions, skills. Part of me feels like working makes me an even better mom. When I’m at work, it’s on. And I’m focused on the task at hand. At home, I’m in mommy mode, and ready to commit all of my attention.
I thought I must have been missing so much during the day, while I was at work but I didn’t realize how much of the day was spent doing damage control, meal time, and napping (for the baby, not my toddler–though she would nap at school).
It seems to me that I need some kind of happy medium.
Some of my fellow working-mom friends having their second child kept their firstborn in preschool this summer. “It’s better for both of us.” I’ve been told. But here’s where I’m torn on that. If you ask my daughter if she’d rather go to school or stay home with me, she’d choose me. Every single time. I’m her mom, I’d expect as much. But if I gave her the choice between cucumbers and cookies, she’d choose cookies every single time. Sometimes they don’t know what’s good for them. Granted, I’m pretty awesome (despite my lack of housewife skills) and hard to beat, but a little time apart, a few hours a day I think would hit the spot for us both. A few hours and nine hours is a big difference. And that’s where I’m hitting a roadblock.
I couldn’t justify paying for her full-time preschool when I would be home and available for her anyway during my leave. But I didn’t have anywhere to take her when I needed to write, or read, or have a couple hours to myself. A couple hours. That’s not a lot to ask. To go from too-much time away from the kids to NO time away was quite a drastic shift, that at moments, had me on the verge of losing my sanity. And then feeling horrible for feeling on the verge of losing my sanity because really, my kids are awesome, it’s not them, it’s me…And a little bit of them.
If I ever am a stay at home mom again part-time preschool will be a must. Then I can spread my wings, still do my business things, and give them 110% after I miss them a little bit. And my them I mean her, I can handle the baby. Until he’s a crazy toddler too that is.
So now here I am wondering how I’m going to get back into the swing of things after having 12 weeks off. I haven’t been away from them for more than a couple hours once or twice. And I’m sure after eight I’ll be ready to fall apart. Or awoken to my new-found freedom. One of the two.