Before having children, I only dreamt of being able to stay home with my kiddos, being able to be apart of their growing development. I honestly never dreamed I’d ever have the opportunity to do so. Then, God blessed our family and as of now I am able to watch after my son while expecting another one on the way. Although there are so many wonderful things that you get to experience while staying at home with your child, there are so many challenges that come with being a stay at home parent. I am not here to complain, I know I am very lucky to be able to take care of my child but there is so much that people just don’t understand about how much it takes out of a person.
I used to work a full time, career path job. I was a project coordinator for a promotional products company in the San Fernando Valley located in California. I have always held a steady, full time job since I was 18. Being able to fully depend on myself financially is something very empowering and gave me a sense of security. The challenge from this transition is the guilt I feel when I’m not able to help out my family financially. On the months that we have struggled financially, I have really felt the blow of being a burden and just have had the feeling of being a useless asset to our family. Yes, I know I am at home – cleaning, feeding the baby, cooking dinner, washing and folding the laundry, constantly going. But for some reason, it just never feels like its enough.
When my son was old enough, I started my own Etsy shop. Thankfully, it was quite a success but then I struggled with time management and I was often left with not enough hours in the day to get everything finished. I would work until 2 in the morning to finish up orders only to come in to the next room and see it in shambles. The dishes needed washing, the trash needed to be taken out, my son would wake up every hour if I wasn’t sleeping or cuddling next to him and my husband would come home to no meal cooked. I felt like a failure.
Although I was able to make a decent profit and help pay for some bills, something was always suffering. I felt I was neglecting my son’s needs and often just left him to cry so I could finish what I needed to do. This left me feeling so guilty, because he still needed me. I often snapped at him because I was exhausted trying to keep up with so many things – I had to finally close my shop because I realized that I was a wife and mother first.
The guilt never really seems to go away because the grass always seems greener on whichever side you’re not currently on. Women who work bring home money but don’t get to see their children grow up. And stay at home mothers get to watch their children grown up but then are left with years of non work experience and are deemed unemployable because of their lack of “in field” experience. There’s the misconception that we just stay at home and do “nothing” all day – but let me tell you, some days I feel like I haven’t stopped. Being a stay at home parent can be very lonely, especially because you don’t get any interaction with other adults unless its John from Citi Bank trying to collect on your bill. The feeling of neglect is overwhelming sometimes but I often don’t say anything about it to anyone because I truly appreciate my husband for what he does for us and I love my son. I know that its neither of their intentions to have me feel unappreciated.
There is usually no one else to talk to about our struggles so there is no venting allowed. If you do open your mouth, you are often faced with the judgements and criticisms of others telling you “well, you’re lucky that you can even stay home,” or “they will only be young and rebellious for so long until they want to leave with their friends (regarding your kids),” or “girl, you’re so lucky – you don’t have to go to work,” etc. I often just keep my mouth shut because no one will truly understand unless they are in a similar situation.
At the end of the day, yes I do feel so very blessed that I get to be watching over my son and taking care of our home. It is an indescribable feeling to be able to watch him grow and learn and just to continue to grow that bond with him. Although it is very challenging, I would not change it for the world. But it will be a constant struggle and adjustment because there are some days when you need time to yourself. To recharge your batteries, to go out and actually be able to indulge in the soup and salad combo at Panera Bread without feeling guilty for it because the amount you spent there could have been split for a meal for you and your kiddo.
I guess what I am trying to say is that, the guilt might not ever truly fade. You just have to keep reminding yourself that you are an irreplaceable part of your family dynamic. Your family depends on you to take care of the things that they don’t see and take for granted because someone else (you) is getting them done. You are feeding, nurturing, comforting, and loving your family and that itself does not have a price tag my dear. Your “office” will always be dirty, filled with soiled diapers and sippy cups that need to be cleaned but your heart will always be full. One day, all the chaos will settle and you will miss the pile of dirty laundry on the floor with a side of Tonka trucks by the side of the kitchen. Give yourself the time that you need, make your husband stay at home while you take a long drive to 7-ll and get yourself that slurpee. Blast the radio and let your hair dance in the air in its full mom bun glory. And if you see a fellow stay at home mother, salute her, encourage her. Let her know that she is appreciated.
So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.
1 Timothy 5:14