Dear Stay-at-Home Mom,
We need to have a talk. I need to confess something to you, and I hope you’ll hear me out.
I didn’t appreciate you. I didn’t understand you. I underestimated what your day-to-day job meant. Using the word “job” there was on purpose. It’s a job without status, without pay, and with little recognition.
I didn’t think you were the stereotype of eating bon-bons and watching soap operas, nor did I think you were the Pinterest prodigy with an everything-is-handmade-and-crafted home and gourmet packed lunches. I think you fell somewhere in between, leaning more toward Pinterest prodigy with ample time to become a Betty Crocker/Martha Stewart mutant of perfection someday. And when you weren’t, I scoffed a little because “she is at home all day!”
Little did I know, and little does everyone else know, that you have been going 63 days straight with no more than a four hour stretch of sleep. And those four hours come few and far between.
Little did I know, or does anyone know, that you frequently look at the clock and realize that you haven’t eaten in ten hours and the cup of coffee you poured at 8 a.m. remains untouched at 3 p.m.
Little did I know that you’re doing this mom thing on your own. You don’t have family nearby to help and your husband works more than 60 hours a week.
Little did I know that you’ve cried in the shower (the first one you got in four days) because your postpartum body is one you don’t recognize. You’re so tired you can barely even focus on rinse, lather, repeat, and now your baby is crying through the monitor even though you just laid him down ten minutes ago.
Little did I know that you have missed out on events you were really looking forward to because your baby has done nothing but cry for the last three weeks. You’re stressed out and she is exhausted. It was too much to venture out. So you stayed home and hoped that people wouldn’t be mad at you, but you knew some would be.
Little did I know that you compromised your professional life to be a mother because with the cost of childcare, the cost of diapers, and the cost of formula, you were paying someone else to mother your children. So now, you stay at home to breastfeed, cloth diaper, and take care of your children “for free.”
Little did I know that you haven’t spoken to another adult in over a week on the phone or in person. You haven’t left your house in over a month. You feel more like a dairy cow and a rocking chair than a human being.
Little did I know that you feel estranged from your friends who don’t have children because it feels like their lives have gone on while yours has stopped. What do you have to talk about besides the feed, change, rock cycle? You don’t feel like you have anything to talk about or concentrate on. You miss them terribly.
Little did I know that you are struggling to find the balance between the old you without kids and the new you who is a mother. You miss the person you were before but wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything. You miss free weekends and the ability to come and go as you please. You miss time with your partner. You miss doing things for yourself. But when you look at your children, you soak it in because they won’t be little for long.
I need to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry to say that the only reason I can say I’m sorry is that I am now walking in your shoes. I now walk in your sleep-deprived, cold coffee, crying in the shower, lonely shoes. And I realize that being a SAHM isn’t for everyone.
It’s for the toughest of the tough.
It’s for those who can endure caring for children, something we value and pay for, all day and all night with no break.
It’s for those who can rise above the opinions of those who think you’re a sellout for staying home or those who judge everything you haven’t done because “you stay home all day.”
It’s for those who can continue to cook, clean, organize, and care for things that go unnoticed but keep the house and the family running.
It’s for those who can live selflessly and live with less.
I get it now. And it’s hard as hell.
Your fellow mother in the trenches
About the Author
Tiffany is a former teacher with a PhD who is now a SAHM to a beautiful boy and a gigantic German Shepherd. Nestled among the cornfields of the midwest, she can be found enjoying craft beer, listening to vinyls, planning trips to escape the corn, and writing daily.