I remember the first time someone told me I was lucky to be a stay-at-home mom. At the time, I felt anything but lucky. I became a stay-at-home mom after I had my first child. It wasn’t because it was something that I always dreamed of. Instead, it was the best decision for my family. I worked as a teacher in Washington, DC, and lived about an hour away in Maryland. If I continued working, it would be to pay for childcare, and it just didn’t make sense. I decided to work up until my due date, partially because I loved my job so much. I wasn’t ready to close that chapter of my life. One of my biggest fears of becoming a stay-at-home mom was losing myself in the job and the lack of recognition that the title had.
Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who looked like me that was a SAHM, so I never considered it an option. I got my first job at 14, and I went to college to have a successful career. I had career dreams and goals planned out, but now that my path has changed, they likely won’t happen. Mentally, it took time for me to adjust to my new normal. Here I am 4 years later, and some days I still struggle. Early on, it didn’t make me feel good knowing that I spent years in college and acquired thousands of dollars in student loans to stay home and take care of my children. However, no schooling could’ve prepared me for this job, which is both, the most demanding and rewarding job I have ever had.
There is such a misconception about being a SAHM. You look at the TV shows and movies, and it seems like such a glamourous job. People think you spend all day lounging around, watching TV, shopping, going on lunch dates, or day drinking with other stay-at-home moms, but this is so far from the truth. (OK, a day drink may happen every so often in the summer or during a pandemic, but we deserve it). Instead of a 9-5, my workday starts when I get up and doesn’t end until I go to bed. There is always something to do: clothes need washing, rooms need cleaning, there’s food to be made, and children that need love and support. It never ends, and there are no breaks. There is no overtime pay. There are also no colleagues to chat with. Being a stay-at-home mom can often feel lonely.
I’ve heard people say that being a stay-at-home mom is one of the most overworked, underpaid, and overlooked jobs there is. I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I think more people have gotten a glimpse into what it looks like being a stay-at-home mom or dad. A friend who once asked me (pre-pandemic), “Don’t you get bored staying home?” recently returned and apologized for that question. She is now playing the role of a stay-at-home mom and realizes there is no time for boredom.
Being a stay-at-home mom (or dad) is a sacrifice. It’s a selfless job that will likely not receive instant rewards or gratitude from the little people you work for. I acknowledge that being able to stay home with my children is such a blessing and a privilege. I’m thankful that I get to drop off and pick my kids up from school and volunteer whenever I want. However, it isn’t something I’ve always been excited about. I had to shift my mentality and pivot. While those career goals and dreams that I once had no longer apply, I have implemented new goals and dreams that, at one point, felt unattainable.
Staying home with children is no easy task. But we do it because we either want to, we have to, or choose to. We all ultimately want to do what’s best for ourselves and our families. My thought is that we all work hard, whether it’s in the house with our children or in an office building with other people. As parents, I hope that we will walk away from this unusual time with admiration and appreciation for what we all do for a living, no matter what it is.