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Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom: The Work of Raising Your Children

I wrote this to remind myself...

I wrote this post for myself, to look back on when I’m having a really hard day, to remind myself why I chose to do this.

It’s easy to give up and quit when things get hard, when you feel lonely, have little to no support, and it feels like the world is against you. I feel that.

I remind myself that nothing worth doing comes easy and that diamonds are made under pressure – and that’s what you are. The world can’t see what you do and people might not respect what you do but those aren’t reasons to stop doing the most important JOB you’ve ever had in your entire life.

When my little catchy one liners fail to make me feel better, I turn to this post.

I hope this post makes you feel seen, heard, understood, and supported. I know you’re doing your best and no one can replace you and the hard work that you do every single day for your family.

A reminder:

I’m writing about my experience being a “stay-at-home mom”, full-time for the past 9 months. I repeat: I am writing about my experience as a “stay-at-home mom”, full-time, for the past 9 months.

I have no interest in making anyone feel bad about what they do, or to brag or complain about what I do, or to compare, blame, shame, etc. This is my life and my experience so please read this post from my perspective.

You will see “stay-at-home mom” in quotations throughout this post. You will understand why that is as you read. You might also see SAHM which stands for “stay-at-home mom”.

I made the decision

I really do love being a “stay-at-home mom” aka a mom whose primary job is to take care of her children. It’s not easy and some days I feel like giving up, but I keep doing this despite all the chaos and criticism.

I do not like the title “stay-at-home mom” at all. I’d much rather be called the CEO of the Lacasse Family or something more along those lines. It’s more accurate and it would garner me a lot more respect.

I didn’t know, when I was pregnant with my daughter, that I was going to become a SAHM. I thought about it, and my husband asked if I would want to, but I didn’t really know. How could I know?

No one I knew growing up had a stay-at-home mom.

Society tells women they should return to work as soon as they can and put their children in daycare. We don’t live in a society that values stay-at-home moms and people don’t exactly promote it. It’s not like you can find an ad online or in a google search that is promoting being a stay-at-home mom.

When I returned to work after maternity leave I tried juggling work and watching our daughter for three months while I worked from home. I hated it.

I hired family and friends a few times to watch her when she woke up from naps so I could get work done, but it didn’t feel right to me. I felt torn between my job and my duty as a mother.

I would get on a work call, to just sit and listen to people talk, while I heard my daughter crying in another room.

I couldn’t juggle anymore.

I wanted to be there, and be present for every cry to soothe her, every diaper to change, every moment to hold and feed her and to just be her mom. I had a difficult time imagining working full-time for someone else while someone else watched my daughter.

It wasn’t an easy decision. Society tells moms they are bad for choosing work over their kids and lazy for choosing motherhood over a career. It’s gross and it’s not fair.

Every mother makes the best decision she can for herself and her family. If you are a mom reading this, you get it. You also had to make the same decision as me – daycare or be a “stay-at-home mom”. No matter the choice, every mother is choosing what is best for her family.

Every mother weighs out the same typical factors: finances, cost of daycare, flexibility to work or lack of it, etc. I weighed out those same factors and I chose to become a SAHM.

My husband supports any decision I make and he supported my decision to leave my job. So, I put in my notice and decided to take on motherhood full-time.

TLDR; I love being a stay-at-home mom and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

andrea and indi

The Labor of Love

While it might not always be glamorous or recognized by the world, the impact “stay-at-home moms” have on the family is immeasurable. Society often underestimates the work involved to be a “stay-at-home mom” often associating the words “stay-at-home” with “hangs out at home”, “does nothing all day” and “does not work”. I’m leaving out the worst of the worst, because far worse things are said about SAHMs on the internet and many of us have heard them in person and I don’t need to repeat them here. There is in fact work involved for SAHMs. People pay maids to clean their homes, landscapers to mow their lawns, daycares to watch their children, meal services and restaurants to prepare their meals, dry cleaners to do their laundry, and schools to teach their kids. I do all of those things. Those are all my jobs except I don’t get paid to do any of it. My job is childcare. My job is house keeping. My job is planning. My job is around the clock. I love my job with all of its challenges and triumphs. Even if you outsource none of those things it’s a lot for one person to do and it’s all work. It doesn’t matter if you get paid to do all of those things or none of those things. If I told people I ran a non-profit daycare I’d get more respect than I get when I say I’m a “stay-at-home mom”. So, I might start telling people I run a non-profit daycare just to shield myself from the all too common ignorant comments about how lucky I am that I don’t have to work. It’s doesn’t matter if you don’t consider those household duties work or not because they are in fact work. Food isn’t made and laundry doesn’t get put away when you’re sleeping. Someone has to do it and they have to expense time and energy to make it happen. Anything that requires your mental energy and physical energy for some sort of output is WORK. Remember that. Going to the gym is work and no one pays you to do it. Pay is not a measure of your work. You only have so much energy in your body during any given day before you need a meal, a break, a nap, or to just go to bed and start fresh the next day (if you can even sleep) because you are exhausted from all the work you’ve done. Raising a child 24/7 is work 24/7. No federal mandated lunch breaks, no hard lines to clock in at 9 and clock out at 5, no bonuses for working overtime, no bathroom breaks and sometimes you don’t shower, drink water, or eat for hours because there is just too much to do and if you don’t wash the dishes and clean the kitchen you can’t make lunch. Oh, and your child is screaming and crying in their playpen in the other room, they might need a diaper and they spilled milk all over the rug so you better clean that ASAP because spilled milk smells so bad and you don’t want to have to throw out the rug and buy a new one with the paycheck you don’t have. You get it. When you have a child it’s you AND them. Everything changes. Your time is not yours anymore. It’s not just about you anymore. It’s about you AND your children. It’s amazing and very difficult to try and balance it all and keep your cool. It is what it is and it involves work, focus, and all of your energy to do it. It’s not a luxury and it’s not easy being a SAHM and I don’t need sympathy from anyone, but when strangers show me empathy and share encouraging words it helps so much. Being a SAHM is a labor of love. The love I have for my family keeps me going on days when I’m running on empty, need a nap, and would really like to just be alone for a couple of minutes in peace.

The Art of Multitasking

Multi-tasking is a skill that every SAHM will become a master at regardless of her skill level before becoming a mom. You have no choice. Childcare, household chores, personal pursuits and whatever else you have going on are all happening in tandem. You’re only one person, but you have to do it all. You can and will find a way to do it all and you will fail to do it all. It’s rough. You might have dishes in the sink but you have dinner on the table. You might have clothes pouring out of your hamper, but you have a load in the washer and a dryer full of clothes ready to fold. You might be pumping, while burning dinner, while having a babbling and incoherent conversation with your child. It’s a lot for your brain and body, but this is your life now. At first, it’s very stressful. It feels impossible. You get overwhelmed and it wouldn’t be out of line if you cracked and had a melt down here or there. Crying and screaming are very normal and I’m not talking about from the baby. I’m talking about you. You will be crying and screaming. You’re doing a lot and all at once and it’s honestly impressive, even if you feel like you’re drowning and you can’t keep up. Most people would just give up but, you’re a mom and you’re doing this for your family so you find a way to keep going.

Embracing Challenges & Celebrating Triumphs

Being SAHM has been the ultimate pressure cooker and I haven’t always managed to keep the lid on. That being said, you find out what you’re capable of with little sleep, little food, and total chaos because what’s driving you to do what you do is your love of your family – the ultimate fuel.

The relentless demands of your “job” are just that – relentless. Also, thankless. A little encouragement from your child who cannot speak would probably go a long way but they can’t talk to you and even if they did, you’re the adult – you should be able to handle all of this. Right?

Lonliness and self-doubt creep around you day in and day out. You forget how to talk to adults, you forget what you enjoy doing, and you don’t know what you want to eat but you know you’re starving.

You wonder if your child even likes you. After you skipped going to the bathroom in order to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal for them, they throw it on the floor. You want to tell them how much work you put into that meal but it doesn’t matter – they don’t understand.

Despite all of that, witnessing your child take their first steps, speak new words, and emote and respond to you all make this “job” worth it. One day, you’ll make them that same meal and they will eat it and you’ll forget all the times they threw it on the ground.

Making Memories

The best part of being a SAHM is that I am there for every moment. As exhausting as some of these moments can be I’m watching my daughter learn and grow. It’s amazing.

When your child isn’t screaming and crying and pushing you to your limits, they are smiling, laughing, and doing funny and cute things that make all of those challenging moments fade.

Enough people have told me, “they grow up so fast” and “the first four years fly by” that I knew I wasn’t going to waste my time in an office or sitting at the computer checking my email when I could be watching my daughter learn to roll over, crawl, walk, and now talk to me (it’s mostly babbling but I know what she’s trying to say most of the time).

On the hardest days, I remind myself that I’ll look back and miss all of this. I’ll miss poopy diapers, somehow, and I’ll miss when my daughter was so small I had to carry her everywhere. I’ll miss our naps together and I’ll miss her throwing food on the floor.

So, I’m here, and I’m home for all of it.

about the author:

Picture of Andrea

Andrea

Andrea is the voice behind Living Like Lacasse. She is a mom, designer, and all-around creative who loves good food, good company, and good design.

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