Being a stay at home mom is one of those experiences that people think they understand — but, much like the act of childbirth, unless you have actually experienced it, you don’t know shit.
I wasn’t always a stay at home mom. In fact, until our second child was born, I had a career in a corporate cubicle with a 401(k) and exactly 45 minutes for lunch. I wanted it all: the family, the job, the house. And you know, I think I could have actually had it all, if I hadn’t almost suffered a nervous breakdown during the pursuit.
When I finally turned my resignation in to my employer, I felt enormously relieved. At last, I could be the wife and mother I’d always wanted to be! I would have the time and energy to devote to my home and family. I would NOT let myself go. I would NOT turn into that frumpy cliché of a mom who trades her heels in for slippers. I would NOT adopt the belief that yoga pants were actual pants. I mean, come on — everyone knows they aren’t.
Nope, I wouldn’t be that kind of stay at home mom. I was going to be different.
I think we all know how this ends, right? I TOTALLY BECAME THAT PERSON. Want to know why? How do highly educated, formerly professional women morph into zombies who shuffle from room to room in bunny slippers? I’ll tell you how it happens.
1. The cares get beat right out of you. I’m a Type-A personality by nature — very uptight, orderly, and restrained. Being a stay at home mom has done something to me on a cellular level. There’s something about cleaning up the same messes over and over and over again that alters the psyche; eventually, you just stop caring. Slowly but surely, my standards have lowered. Now, at six years into this gig, I just sort of ignore the messes. I can’t keep up with it all.
2. Jeans are not meant to be worn by SAHMs. I figured out pretty quickly why SAHMs live in workout gear. Jeans are literally the worst. I can’t bend over, squat down, and run up and down stairs quickly in jeans or fashionable (read: teeter-tottery) shoes. And if no one is even going to see me in my cute outfit, then why waste it on the kids? I know there are decent-looking options for people who don’t really leave the house, but to be honest, I would rather spend my money on something hot for date night.
3. A messy bun covers a multitude of sins. I used to wonder why all SAHMs seemed to have a perma-ponytail. I can now tell you that I have a perma-messy bun, and it’s because I don’t have to do anything to my hair. I can wash it at night, sleep on it wet, and throw it on top of my head. I don’t have to keep up with highlights if it’s in a giant knot up there. I mean, yes, I go to the salon sometimes. Just not as often as I should. That’s another phenomenon of motherhood: nothing ever happens as often as it should.
4. The laundry really is endless. All of the laundry jokes are true, you guys. It literally never, ever ends. Someone is always using towels, spilling drinks, playing in the dirt, or smearing markers on their clothes. Maybe if I wasn’t home all the time, there would be less laundry, but I’m thinking probably not. I just have to stare at it piling up, until I actually deal with it.
5. You’re always on the job. The biggest truth about being a stay at home mom is that I really never get a break from it. Even when my kids are in school, I’m usually prepping for a meal, going shopping for groceries, or running other house-related errands. I’m on call 24/7, which is exhausting, BUT …
6. It’s also a pretty cushy situation. I make my own schedule. I make my own rules. If I want to drag us all to the park or to a pool, I can. If I want to feed us ice cream for lunch, that’ll happen. If I need a break on a school day, I have the luxury of meeting my friends for coffee or going to the gym. Sometimes I take a few hours and do stuff just for myself, and it is GLORIOUS. The good far outweighs the bad, at least for now.