Being a stay at home mom is killing me, slowly, deliberately, sucking my soul dry, one snail-paced day at a time. Every morning I hit snooze two or three times until I remind myself (again) that I have to get up and get them ready so my oldest won’t be late for kindergarten and my husband won’t be late for work. I drag myself out of bed, pull on leggings I’ve worn for several days in a row and a t-shirt that’s hopefully semi-clean. Then I head to the kids’ rooms to find clothes that aren’t too scratchy or too snug or too loose in the wrong places, shirts without a hood, with a certain weight and a certain spin and type of cotton. Have you ever dressed a picky four year old? It’s a blast.
Then breakfast, which one kid will probably change his mind about three times, pack the lunches, negotiate about getting ready, remind them twelve times to just put on their fucking shoes and hopefully make it out the door by 7:20 in time to make it to the school two miles down the road because morning traffic is the worst.
Then there’s the car ride to school. Usually, one kid will say something annoying, or maybe just in the wrong tone, to the other and we start our morning fight fest. So I attempt to navigate our very crowded neighborhood, grumpy and sleepy, where there are kids walking to school, while also refereeing, hoping my cherubs don’t start hitting and kicking each other in the back seat. “I’m sorry I hit that pedestrian, officer, my kids were fighting so much I couldn’t pay attention to the road.”
Where are the distracted driving commercials for moms? Can someone come turn down my kids so I can pay attention to the road, please? Texting can definitely wait, but can kids?
I drop my oldest at his school and then three days a week take the youngest to preschool where he clings to me like a baby orangutan. The teacher pulls him off of me and I feel crushing mom guilt every single time.
And then I’m free of kids…to do the super stimulating work of meal planning, grocery shopping, folding laundry, dishes, cleaning. There’s usually some tv thrown in there and maybe an occasional lunch with a friend.
This is the stuff I went to college for by the way. This is what I dreamed of when I won academic awards in school and studied my ass off.
Then around 1:30 I start the afternoon rounds, which consist of my ass glued to my minivan seat. Pick up the youngest, let him nap in the car, head to oldest’s school, sit in carpool for 30 mind-numbing, Instagram scrolling minutes while the youngest usually wakes up and whines, or sometimes outright screams, because he’s stuck in the car for thirty mind-numbing minutes. Yes, we have a DVD player. Then we head home and there’s negotiating about playtime vs tv time, more refereeing, homework, dinner, fighting to get them in bed, collapsing on the couch, trying to entertain myself for a couple of hours before bed with a book or tv show, sleep and repeat again the next day.
I know men are flocking in droves to read my blog, so men, raise your hand if this seems like a satisfying day to you. Anyone? No? You mean you’d like more mental stimulation in your life than folding clothes and planning which meat to buy on sale each week? I cannot imagine why.
I know. I asked for this. When our first was born, I begged my husband and God to find a way for me to stay home with him and I always had some part-time work I could do at home that allowed us to be able to do it and stay afloat. And I don’t wish I’d missed those baby years with either of my boys. Those were really sweet times and I know I’m fortunate to have had the option to be at home with our boys. I would not give them back.
This time has also been really boring for me personally. The majority of the last 6 years my life has revolved around taking care of my husband and kids, making their lives more functional and easier to live. I’ve had very little that was actually mine. My husband has had a growing and thriving career. He works with great people and has grown, progressed and learned more in his field. My only forms of mental stimulation have been from books, Bible studies, tv and social media.
And while I’m so thankful to have women in my life that support, love and carry me on a daily basis, I don’t see other adults outside my family every day or even every week and as an extrovert, that has become its own kind of torture. There’s a reason solitary confinement is used as punishment in prisons. They should throw some toddlers with a stomach virus in there for the really bad guys and I bet it would be more effective.
If we lived centuries or millennia ago in tribal societies, maybe things would be different, but today, being a stay at home mom is lonely and isolating. It is hard, thankless work. It is Cinderella without the cute mice cheering you on. There is no fairy godmother to give you a pretty dress and a pumpkin carriage and there is no Prince Charming coming to rescue you from this life of constant servitude. If you’re really lucky, you have a decent husband who appreciates your hard work and sacrifice and who treats you well, who you also love, who feels like your partner, who really sees you, but that’s not that case for a lot of stay at home moms I know or at least not all of the time.
There are a lot of books and blog posts saying that being a mom is hard, recognizing the work of moms and especially the loneliness of stay at home mothering and then putting a spiritual spin on it that we’re sacrificing for Jesus and that it’s worth it in the end, but what about right now? I completely believe that my kids’ well being is worth any sacrifice I make and I don’t wish I hadn’t been with them these last few years. However, I have reached a limit and
sometimes most of the time, kids are better when their moms are better. And sometimes having a vagina doesn’t mean you’re automatically completely fulfilled by laundry, cleaning, cooking and raising kids. I’m not anymore. Maybe I never have been.
When I briefly went back to work in 2016, before that whole thing blew up, I really enjoyed learning new skills, feeling independent and like a grown-up again. Succeeding at something other than being a wife and mothering felt like waking up a part of me that had been asleep for a long time. I enjoyed being around adults again and having actual conversations that weren’t about letters and colors.
While I was working, I actually missed my kids and then when I was with them, I was present with them instead of counting down the hours until bedtime. I didn’t feel jealous and resentful of my husband’s job. I actually had things to talk to him about like what I’d done at work that day instead of what I’d seen on tv or just read in a book.
And maybe if that hadn’t been taken away in such a frustrating and traumatic way and the rest of this past year hadn’t been so hard, I’d feel a little more hopeful and positive about where we are now, but my positivity and optimism have been used up and now we’re just left with honesty and lots of it.
So I’m saying it out loud. I’m tired of my life as it is now. My need for personal fulfillment has been neglected for too long and I am withering. I am so incredibly bored and grossly under-stimulated. I need more than cooking, cleaning, wiping butts and reading stories. I love my children with every fiber of my being, but taking care of them and our home doesn’t fulfill all of my needs. I want more.
And I don’t think I’m alone.