Stay-At-Home Moms, I Feel You

I can’t be a stay-at-home-mom. There. I said it. Not because we can’t afford for me to stay home, but because I’m terrible at home. I feel confined and itchy and mean and weepy—the kind of mother I don’t want to be for my child.

I used to think that staying at home with children wasn’t “work.” Now I wish my mid-thirties, toddler-rearing self could go back and smack my younger self right in her smug, wrinkle-free face. Raising a child is work—especially a toddler, with whom I find myself constantly engaged in a battle of wills. And sometimes, if I can’t strong-arm my kid, I have to outsmart him. I felt defeated covertly squirting a syringe of Motrin into his juice yesterday and enticing him to drink it, but after we both ended up on the floor crying and covered in children’s suspension liquid, it was clear to me that there was no other choice.

A better mother, I sometimes tell myself, wouldn’t have these problems. A better mother wouldn’t yell when she’s trying to take a shower and her toddler has just dropped Peek-A Who? in the tub for the fifteenth time and then screamed, “I wan book! I wan book!” She wouldn’t yell when instead of eating the pieces of banana she painstakingly and lovingly chopped, her son throws them on top of the dog. Or when he tries to eat everything in the library’s play area so that all the drool-covered plastic fruits and vegetables have to go in the “To be sanitized” bucket. Or when he screams in gym class because he doesn’t want to return the big foam noodle.

After being thrown in the shower repeatedly, this book is ruined. It's also the cleanest it's ever been.
After being thrown in the shower repeatedly, this book is ruined. It’s also the cleanest it’s ever been.

I don’t know how stay-at-home moms do it. I’m aware that some moms have MORE THAN ONE of these soul-sucking homunculi, which is incomprehensible to me. If I had another kid, what would I do with that one while I was wrestling the first one to get his pants on, because this day has been totally for shit AND BY GOD, WHEN YOUR FATHER GETS HOME, AT LEAST ONE OF US IS GOING TO BE WEARING PANTS!

I’ve been asked how I can be so patient at my job, with other people’s kids. I don’t know exactly. For one, I teach preteens, with whom I can be diplomatic, use logic. They’re not creatures driven (well, not completely) by id. They’re also other people’s kids—not my own, who might be my only shot at any kind of lasting mark on this earth. That’s a hefty burden for a little id-driven monster to carry.

So maybe I should let my kid be a kid. Let it be. This too shall pass. Live for the moments that are actually happy, the moments I feel a twinge of, “I got this. You know, I could actually do this.” The peaceful moments when he’s in my lap, wrapped up in my arms, and I’m saying, “I love you soooooo much.”

Because I do, even though within minutes I’m likely to say, “I can’t believe you came from my womb! What did I do to deserve this?!

7 thoughts on “Stay-At-Home Moms, I Feel You

  1. This is awesome and was a perfect read for my post-kid bedtime guilt. Toddlers are difficult but 5 year old girls trump them! She is a tween in the making and argues with everything. Every night leaves me frustrated and guilty except when I remember those few and far between “I nailed it as a mom” moments. Its freakin hard! I’m a stay at home mom who has a couple odd “at home” work gigs going on too. Just never enough time or patience yet I cry at how fast they are growing. Totally dysfunctional yet beautiful.

    1. I wish someone would have told me before I became a mom how much guilt and frustration were a part of the job.

      “Totally dysfunctional yet beautiful”…that about sums it up! Thanks for commenting.

  2. My Goo isn’t a toddler yet, but at six months old she is still quite the energy-sucker. I’m a stay-at-home-mom, and although I have time to do things like write or keep the house clean, I find myself constantly wiped out. My husband is often repeating the question: “what’s wrong?” And I always respond with, “I’m tired.” And then he responds with, “you’re always tired.” I am soooo so very tired. Because of this, I’m on the opposite end of you. I could NOT be a working mom (I often wonder how you awesome moms do it! I would pass out from exhaustion every hour). I don’t know if I could ever find the energy to do that. Kudos to you for being such a great momma 🙂 Don’t worry, your tot is only that little for a bit, and then the terrible tots wear off and he will become the coolest kid ever! I used to work as a preschool teacher, and I’m extremely ready for that age. Good Luck!

    1. Thanks for the reassurance. I’m sure that some of his behavior is normal. It’s just really hard to see it objectively!

      As for being a working mom, if I didn’t have my husband, I don’t think I could do it. I know many women are forced to, but I think having an equal partner is necessary. Sometimes I do get overwhelmed. I guess there are advantages to both working and staying at home.

      Thanks for the comment, Lina!

  3. The only thing that all mothers have in common, is guilt. We’re never enough. We’re never crafty enough, fun enough, patient enough, or anything enough for these creatures that we love more than anything in the entire world, but who make us want to pull our hair out.

    I tried to stay home with my twins. Within two months, I was working three mornings a week, and I went right back to full-time teaching the next year. I love my children more than anything on this Earth, but it was the best decision for all of us.

    If it helps at all…a good primal scream in the garage does wonders…followed by a beer and some Motrin of your own.

    1. You are absolutely right about the guilt. Where does it come from?? Do dads experience that kind of guilt?

      Thanks for the comment.

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