Stay at Home Mom Guilt, and How I Fight it Daily
When we found out that we were going to have a baby, my husband and I both agreed that I would stay at home to raise him or her until preschool. I had this fairy tale of an idea in my head that I'd have more time to cook, clean, work on projects around the house, and go food shopping — all while caring for our little nugget.
That's not what it's like at all.
Most days I have to choose between cleaning myself or the bathroom (both being in desperate need of a good scrubbing). At the end of my day, when I look around at all the toys, sippy cups, crumbs, and the pile of laundry I didn't get to fold, I feel disappointed in myself. I'm under so much pressure to get EVERYTHING done all in one day that I just end up feeling defeated. This pressure isn't coming from anyone but myself. I'm sure he isn't thrilled to come home to a house that looks like it's straight out of a scene in the movie Twister, but my husband gets that things get overwhelming here.
Before having my son, I worked Monday through Friday, so on Sunday, I'd put on my sexy, elbow-length rubber gloves and knock the entire house out in one afternoon, which was very satisfying for me. The house was messy and then after a few hours, it was clean again. Nothing at all like the way it is now. These days, the house gets cleaned one room and one day at a time and gets done as quickly as possible before my son wakes up from his nap. By the time the last room is cleaned, the first one I had done in the beginning of the week is dirty again. It's a never-ending battle.
So, here's where my issue lies: Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to do so much? After taking a step back and analyzing this, I’ve realized that we feel we need to prove our worth since we don't contribute financially anymore. We have this guilt deep down inside because we’re at home and not paying the bills, even though, on some levels, we’re working harder than we ever have in our entire lives. It’s a BIG adjustment going from career to SAHM, but we shouldn't feel guilty because we’re am here, day in and day out, at all hours of the night, taking no sick days or overtime pay and no lunch breaks or vacation time, so that we can teach and care for our children, right?
Well, wait a minute. Is this really what’s best for them, or is staying home with them taking away the socialization and independence the kids who are in daycare are getting? What if this whole time we thought we were sacrificing ourselves for their benefit, we’re actually hurting them? I’m sure if I worked, I’d feel guilty for not spending enough time with my son. The mom-guilt is never ending no matter what we do, so how are we supposed to know if we are doing the right thing as parents?
The other day, I took my son to our local library where they have a huge play space with tons of books and toys. There were a lot of other kids there as it was one of those dreary, rainy afternoons. My son tends to go off on his own, away from the other kids, which makes me question my not putting him in some sort of daycare. On this day he chose to play at a small table off to the side, lining up a bunch of dinosaur figures on top of it when another boy, I'd say about 3ish, walked up to him and snatched a dinosaur right out of his hands, yelling "MINE!". His mother ran over, mortified, as most are when their children do something mean.
"We DO NOT take toys from anyone. Give the toy back to the little boy". The mother said. The boy refused to do so, stomping his feet and clutching the dinosaur even closer to his chest.
I sat and watched my son the entire time. He just stood there, observing the little boy having a mini tantrum, and I could tell he was trying to make sense of it. My sweet, kind little boy took another dinosaur from the table and gave it to the boy in an attempt to make him feel better, despite the fact that a toy had just been ripped out of his own hands. The other mother looked at me, mouth hanging open, not believing what she just witnessed. I felt so proud of my little guy, that I leaned over and kissed the top of his head.
That one little act of kindness was all the affirmation I needed. My house may be messy AF, dinner may not always be Zagat-worthy, and my son may not be on as regimented a schedule as daycare kids are, but he is the sweetest, kindest, most generous little boy, so I've got to be doing something right.
We’ve got to find the signs that our best is working anywhere we can. That’s how we fight the guilt.