Dear mama who’s a stay-at-home mom: I see you.
I see the worry in your eyes and the heaviness in your heart. I also see the joy and the contentment too. Because it’s all there. Being a stay-at-home mom is joyful and exhausting, fulfilling and thankless, rewarding and lonely, entertaining and (dare I say) boring all at the same time. And it’s really confusing to feel all these things. Especially when the world tells you things like "enjoy it; it goes so fast" and "I don't know how you do it" and "you sure have got your hands full."
So you second-guess yourself. You worry about money and wonder if you’ll ever get an hour to yourself again. You are grateful to have the privilege to be able to choose this motherhood path, but you also feel so unappreciated and isolated sometimes. Does anyone even see you?
I see you.
Because I’ve been you.
If I could rewind the clock, there are a few things I wish I could tell my new-stay-at-home-mom-self. But of course, I can’t. So instead I’ll say them to you.
Resist the urge to say “just” when talking about your role as stay-at-home mom.
You aren’t “just” a stay-at-home mom. You are a stay-at-home mom. And an amazing one at that. Don’t pressure yourself to do more or be more.
Stay-at-home mom isn’t synonymous with being a martyr.
Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t require an endless supply of self-sacrifice and martyrdom. Your needs matter too. In fact, meeting your needs are essential to being able to meet the needs of your little one.
Try not to worry about what others think.
When I was a stay-at-home mom, I spent way too much time worrying about what others thought about my choice. Would they think I was eating bon-bons all day, as the cliché goes? Would they think I “wasted” my education? Would they judge me for making this choice? Or would they judge me if I had made a different choice?
Truth be told, people are typically too busy worrying about their own choices to spend a lot of time thinking about yours. But even if they are, none of those potential judgments or opinions matter. The only thing that matters is whether this is the right choice for you and your family. Being a SAHM may not be the right choice for other moms, and that’s okay. In the wise words of Amy Poehler, “Good for you, not for me.” This is true whether you are a work-outside-the-home mom, stay-at-home mom, work-from-home mom, or some combination of all of this. Motherhood doesn’t look the same for everyone, and neither does the way we spend our days.
It's OK if you don’t like being a stay-at-home mom sometimes.
There are many days when you might downright hate being a stay-at-home mom. That’s okay. You might second-guess your choice. That’s okay too. Usually these feelings come when the baby has spit up on you for the third time in an hour, the toddler refuses to take a nap, the dishwasher is on the fritz again, and you haven’t talked to another adult for 36 hours. It’s okay to not like being a SAHM all the time. It’s hard work, after all. You tend to the needs of little humans – who are incapable of telling you how much they love and appreciate you. But know that you are loved and appreciated. And on those spit-up, no-nap, broken-dishwasher, no-adult-conversation days, remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day.
You might change your mind and decide you don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom.
If you realize that being a stay-at-home mom is not working for you or your family, that’s okay. Needs and circumstances change, and you'll change with them. You will continue being an amazing mom to your little one.
Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t require perfection.
Just because you are a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean your house needs to be immaculate or that you need to do all of the latest enrichment activities with your baby. Your house will often be a mess. (Little humans are messy.) You will be too exhausted to make crafts with your preschooler, so you’ll snuggle while watching a movie instead. That’s great. No one is asking you to be perfect. Perfection is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; it seems innocent enough but, believe me, it will destroy you.
Reminder: Some days good enough is downright fantastic.
Children thrive when their mamas thrive.
Children don’t need a perfect mom; they need a happy one. Maybe you fill your days with play dates with other parents, or you spend cozy mornings at home in your pajamas, or you have a structured routine, or you have regular babysitter so you can go to Moms’ Nights Out with your friends and run errands alone. Whatever works for you and your family, lean in to that. Your children with thrive if you are thriving.