“You’re so lucky you get to be at home with your kids,” is a comment I hear often. In response, I nod like a bobble head and say, “Yes, it’s a privilege. I feel so blessed.” Although my response might sound canned, it’s heartfelt. I know being a SAHM is not a choice every woman gets to make. At one time in my mommy-hood, staying at home with my kids was not an option for me either. In fact, being a SAHM, only became a choice about a year and half ago when my family and I picked up and moved across the country for my husband to pursue a new job. While leaving NY also meant leaving all our friends and family behind, we knew moving to FL would give us additional options as a family both in finances and time.
When I first became a SAHM, I was beyond grateful that I would have more time and energy than I’ve ever had to give my kids. And I loved the idea of getting to spend my days cultivating a life at home that would help us all thrive. But while I count being a SAHM a privilege, I’ll be honest that my intro is only a disclaimer to say this:
I don’t want to be a SAHM anymore.
There, I said it! My confession comes with rush of guilt, relief, and memories…memories of my own childhood at home with my mom. I see her standing at the stove cooking a homemade meal while my sister and I sit at the kitchen table, rolling out the homemade playdough we made earlier in the day. A thousand more pictures like that one flood my brain. If I told you each one, I’d essentially be describing the ideal childhood. I absolutely want to give my two girls the same. But I’m coming to the realization that my path through motherhood, to be a good one, doesn’t necessarily have to look like my mother’s. Or any other woman’s for that matter.
While I have a long list of reasons of why I think going back to work might make sense for our family right now, one reason stands out among the rest. For me, the way being a SAHM turns a relationship into a job is horrifying! The line between the two feels so blurry. I love my children. I love being a mom. I love the connection I have with my children as their mom. But tasks associated with my role as a SAHM – folding endless mountains of laundry, prepping snacks, wiping snotty noses all days – make some days feel so monotonous. My biggest fear, as a SAHM, is that I’ll somehow confuse some part of momhood that is really quite special with being mundane.
I can’t help but notice that as the working parent, my husband’s experience is so much different from mine. He walks through the door and my 3-yr old shrieks like a wild woman while charging at his knees. She smiles bigger and becomes more animated than I’ve seen her the entire day. What happens when he gets home is magic. Honestly, I wish I had more moments like that with my family. I think my girls deserve more moments like that with their mommy too. Even though I’m the one who’s home with the kids the whole day, sometimes I feel like the parent who is missing out. It’s all very ironic…
As a SAHM, I get lots of time with my kids . . . so much time that, honestly, I often take it for granted. I can’t help but think a break from routines and taking on some projects outside the home would help me focus on making the time I spend with my kids count more. I’m often reminded by friends, and even strangers in the grocery store with nostalgia in their eyes, to enjoy this time with my children because “they grow up so quickly.” I believe them . . . it’s my joy to watch my girls turn into their own little people, with thoughts and ideas that are uniquely theirs. But then sometimes between the tantrums, potty-training, and sleepless nights, time doesn’t feel like it’s moving very much at all. I feel like I need to step outside SAHM-hood to gain some objectivity and to see the bigger picture.
Will some time away from the house mean more quality moments with my girls? Not necessarily. Work outside the home will also mean a busier and more tired mommy. It will be up to me to find balance and to build in moments of quality time together. What I do know for certain is that if I go back to work, I’ll never regret my past choice to be a SAHM. My role served the needs of our family for that season of our lives. Our family feels settled, my kids are thriving, and I’ve learned more than I could’ve ever anticipated from the experience. Mostly, I’ve learned a lot about what’s really important to me as a mom. And for me, that’s time well spent!