Disclaimer: This article’s original intent is a grandiose amount of hyperbole, please interpret as such
Being a stay-at-home parent is the hardest job ever, I mean ever. I taught English for a decade in two different states (Florida and Arizona) and I used to think that teachers had the most difficult job on the planet. Now don’t get me wrong, I still think teachers work a ridiculously stupid amount of hours for a ridiculously stupid amount of pay. If I wasn’t writing curriculum, then I was attending professional development, or lesson planning, or grading, or dealing with some administrator’s (who was entirely out of touch with the actual classroom) bullshit.
However, being a stay-at-home Mommy? Hardest. Job. Ever. It isn’t just the long hours and underappreciation, it is the misconception that it is easy that drives me up the wall. This isn’t easy. It is tedious, monotonous, and soul-crushing. It is really, really, really, difficult to create structure out of thin air. We all take for granted the structure that working a job builds into our lives, until it isn’t there anymore. Every minute seems to take ten years, and in some sort of crazy, ironic, paradoxical universe there aren’t nearly enough hours in the day. I feel like Chicken Little (albeit a stained, messy-haired, un-showered version) running around all day trying to accomplish so. many. tasks.
Being a SAHM means your work is never finished and unlike those 7th graders I could partially tune out, I have a HUGE investment in being 100% focused on this feral wild child lest she run off and join the circus or smack some unwitting person across the face. Before I had a child, I would have thought smugly “my child will never do that.” Yes the fuck she will, they all do. Despite, your best intentions and the totality of all of the emotions you squeeeeeeze out of yourself everyday (every.last.drop).
The best part about being a SAHM (or parent) is when someone assumes/is absolutely positive that you are lazy and/or your “work” is less important. This is usually also accompanied by this ideal that you have so much more time to do fun things, or things by yourself. Sometimes I feel like screaming “I am trying to create a kind, useful member of society that will help effect future generations, wtf did you do today?
I never thought I would envy my husband getting to utilize his intelligence and have conversations that aren’t about Doc McStuffins or farting, but I do. I stare at him with unabashed envy when he comes home, like he is a new, shiny, adult toy. He has been out in the world! With people! With adults! He has learned new things and solved problems. People think he is smart and not, oh let’s say, insane.
I’ve always had a penchant for telling strangers or acquaintances way too much about my life. But now? I will tell anyone, anything just to have an adult, human connection. “Did I mention that I almost died?” (lifts shirt and shows long jagged scar going down the entirety of my stomach). This sort of stuff happens. A lot. I am great at dinner parties and social events, kind of like an awkward clown.
Being a stay-at-home parent almost always comes with a financial strain, and in the case of my family, this is true. We miss out on activities and trips and shopping and movies and brand-new things because this was more important to me. Is it more important every second of every day? No, there are some days I want really expensive make-up, or a haircut at somewhere other than Great Clips.
Why stay home then? If it is difficult and arduous and is slowly stealing your identity, why do it? Because I love my kid. I love my kid so much that I want to be with her. I just gave birth to her yesterday and then I turned my back for a second and she is nearly 3. I want to be with her even though she peed on the floor yesterday, while the potty was inches away from her tiny tuckus. I want to be with her even though she embarrassed me in a restaurant today and made me look like an idiot by refusing to listen to, or follow, any of my instructions. I want to be with her even though she refuses to kiss me, and looks at me with such disdain because I made some invisible affront to her tiny self. I want to be with her and hear each new word she says, when she says it. I want to be with her and watch her laugh and giggle and love me with every ounce she can muster.
I want to be with her because I know that someday way too soon, I will be letting her go to school and I will be standing like an emotionally stunted adult sobbing my fool heart out. I want to be with her because she is the single most important thing I have ever done in my entire life. I want to be with her because I love her. I stay at home every day because I love her even more than myself.