WORKING MOMMY CONFESSION: I FAILED AS A SAHM
I failed at being a stay-at-home mom: I learned that being a SAHM isn’t for me.
First, and foremost, let me get out of the way any misconceptions. I do not believe that being a stay at home mother is a secondary calling. It is not a copping out, it is not easy, and it is certainly not something to be put into an “other” category. It’s a job…a really hard 24/7 job that includes pee, poop, and vomit on the daily. So, don’t tell me that I believe myself to be superior to full-time Stay At Home Mothers.
Instead, I see stay-at-home motherhood in much the same way as I see camping. It isn’t that I haven’t tried it…it’s that I tried it, and I didn’t like it.
Stay at home mothers have some secret skill that I thought I had, but it only took me a few months to figure out that I didn’t have it. In fact, I believe, my husband knew I didn’t have it even sooner than I did. I guess that’s my stubbornness!
TRYING TO BE A SAHM
I am an attorney, and after struggling for many years to build my resume up to qualify to go to law school, then spending 3 years eating and breathing law, then spending countless hours per week trying to earn some respect in my first law job, I was spent.
I distinctly remember the day that I attempted to walk out of my office at around 6 after being there since 8. My boss asked me where I was going. I replied: “home.” He asked me if I had finished all of my work to which I responded “as much as I can get done today.”
His response was “why are you leaving? You don’t have a family to go home to.” I was stunned. The only reason that I would leave after a 10 hour workday would be to go home to kids?
Basically, that job had to go. About a year later, I did have a family to go home to, and I quit. Vowing never to return to the law, my husband received a huge promotion, and I turned to our home.
GIVING SAHM LIFE A TRY
I spent day in and day out with my child. He and I went to parks, made crafts, planned birthday parties, met for playdates, went to kid cafes, biked, ran, played, built, cooked, baked, ………….. it goes on. I did ALL the things.
I felt a little like Rapunzel in Tangled doing all of the things before 9:00 am.
Further, I cleaned, organized, decorated, and then rearranged again, every square inch of our house. I spent hours upon hours per day cleaning a house occupied by only 3 people. Then, when my husband would come home, I would tell him about how hard I had worked all day to clean (a house that was already clean) and then would be exasperated with him when he would leave a dish out of place and not want to go out to dinner.
I mean, I had been at home all day slaving away with a toddler, and I couldn’t understand why the first thing that he wanted to do was sit on the couch instead of go out. It was getting out of control; I was out of control!
After a few months, we knew that this wasn’t going to work. I was far too Type A, far too goal-oriented, and far too controlling to let a few things go and be a full-time stay at home mom.
A few months after that our second child was born, and about a month after that, I returned to law practice part-time.
MY NEW BALANCE
The day I interviewed for my job was very difficult for me.
My poor interviewer. I had heard about the job through the grapevine. I was pregnant when I sent my resume, and I had recently recovered from a prolonged pregnancy-related hospitalization. (Read about it here.)
It was a phone interview, and, like I said, I had only recently sworn off law practice. So, I was more than a little antagonistic.
I started the conversation with: “I know you can’t ask me, so I will just tell you that I am 38 weeks pregnant and have no interest in starting work until after a maternity leave.” The poor man!!!
I then proceeded to tell him that I had no interest in full-time work, that I would always prioritize my family, and that I would not work 60 hours a week no matter how much he paid me.
I was brutal!
Undeterred, my unprepared interviewer, and my now boss, was gracious in his response. He replied that his wife does the same thing. He confessed that his wife was a better mom because she works part-time. And, because she was able to have her own part-time work, she was also a better employee.
WORKING OUT OF THE HOME MAKES ME A BETTER MOMMY
By George, he has it! That was exactly my issue. I needed something that was mine, but also something that distracted me from micromanaging every facet of my child’s, my husband’s, my household’s day.
Now, part-time work in an area that I truly enjoy with people with whom I truly enjoy working has made me a better mother.
Sure, the house is always dirty…I’m still working on that.
No, I don’t have my children’s rooms all decorated.
Yes, I have skipped more than my fair share of playdates recently.
However, after discovering that I didn’t have the special Stay-At-Home-Mom Stuff, I learned that a balance was necessary in my life.
Maybe you need it too. Perhaps your office would surprise you. Maybe, it’s not all or nothing. More and more offices are accommodating families.
If you are a mommy struggling with the guilt of working outside the home, talk to your boss; he might surprise you like mine did. Maybe you will be far more productive, happy, and loyal if you know that you can devote a few extra hours each week or day to your family.
I FAILED AT BEING A SAHM, BUT THAT DIDN’T MAKE ME A BAD MOM
Contrastingly, if you are a mommy struggling with the mental exhaustion of micromanaging your own home, perhaps some time out of the house will make you a better, more present mother. I know it did for me.
Working outside of the home made me just a little bit more aware and appreciative of the time that I get with my family. Being able to devote days at a time to crafts, tickle fights, and playdates alleviates my ever-present mom guilt.
Don’t you dare assume that I am anti-Stay At Home Mom. Those women are saints and have skills that I don’t have. I know…I tried! Further, don’t even think that I am critical of women who work full-time. I don’t know how they do it! They are amazing!
I simply want to let you know that I have failed at least one thing in my life: being a stay at home mom. And, working part-time has been both my restitution and my privilege. Maybe it would work for you too.
Need to kick some more mom guilt out of your life? Check this out.