I’m guilty. For years I’ve associated being a stay-at-home mom with a woman who literally stays home and contributes everything to the household: cleaning, washing dishes, doing laundry, buying groceries, scheduling appointments, attending extracurricular activities, cooking. The list can go on and on. I didn’t believe that there was much else to it. 

My mom was a SAHM for most of my childhood. She kept the household in order and always managed to end the day with a warm dinner on the table. My father worked long hours and would often get home after most of us kids were already in bed. She had his plate waiting and sometimes even packed leftovers for his lunch the next day. And then she’d wake up and do it all over again. 

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I couldn’t see it then—the constant pressure that weighed on her to maintain an entire household and the exhaustion that formed around the belief that she had to do it all. I couldn’t see that staying at home with her children had consumed most of her identity, barely leaving room for her to be anyone outside of a mother and a wife—even though she was so much more.

When I failed to have the entire household together, I felt like I had failed my husband, my child and my duty as a wife.

But now, I see it clearly.

As a SAHM myself, I have spent so much time trying to replicate what I saw my mother doing growing up. I have tried to “do it all” and I have faced the biggest identity crisis along the way. But now, I realize that there is so much more to staying home as a mom—especially when you tack on working from home.                

There’s not just the physical pressure to have the household (and everything surrounding it) intact—there’s the mental pressure to take care of your kids, spend time with your partner and still somehow keep yourself together as well.

Internally, I felt like I needed to be doing it all since my days consisted of being home the majority of the time. This perspective had been ingrained in my mind unconsciously for years, and being a mother now, it's become very evident that this notion was driving a large part of the pressure that I felt around being a SAHM.

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When I failed to have the entire household together, I felt like I had failed my husband, my child and my duty as a wife. I believed that my productivity was measured by how many things I was able to check off my to-do list. 

I often felt like my inability to keep the chaos under control showed a huge lack on my end—and I thought my husband would despise me for it. (Fortunately, he is one of the most gracious and understanding beings that I know—hence one reason why I married him.)

But just because I’m a SAHM doesn’t mean that the entirety of my role as a wife and a mother is to maintain the household. And while I notably spend more time at home, the responsibility of the household does not solely fall on or depend on me. 

Related: I don't know who I am beyond being a SAHM

It takes more than a mother to make a house a home.

My income may not match my husband's, but I still contribute financially. His help around the house doesn’t match how much I do on a daily basis, but he still contributes when he can. And that's how we make things work for us.

It has taken some time to unlearn everything that I thought I knew about being a SAHM. And it continues to take time to give myself grace as I am in this role. Maybe it won't last forever, but for now, I'm turning off my "superpowers." Because I don't have any. I'm just a normal woman trying my best to do what I can do. Some days that looks like maintaining everything effortlessly—other days it looks like letting the messiness run its course and putting everything back together when and how I can.

Mothers who stay home don’t have to do it all. Matter of fact—they shouldn’t. Because as in any partnership, everything is a joint effort. And it takes more than a mother to make a house a home.