The Battle of the Stay-At-Home Mom
By Vanessa Palencia
It isn't easy.
This way of life isn't sleeping in, watching TV all day, hanging out at a posh café, or getting your nails done. For a few, this might be true, but generally speaking, it isn't. At least, in my case it definitely isn't.
And before you judge, let me tell you that despite receiving my degree as a technical writer, I chose to follow my fiancee to the east coast in hopes of starting a new life. I knew that moving to such a small state would lead to difficulties in finding a job in my field. I knew that between the two of us, one would be forced to stay home because there would be no one else to see our son off to school and bring him home. And I knew that isolating myself from family and friends would test my character and strength.
And test it, it did.
The idea of staying home can be glamorous --fuzzy socks, freshly brewed coffee, and the comfort of your couch. It sounds like heaven, but even good things need to be taken in moderation.
You see, being home alone after a while can start getting to you. It starts to feel more like a prison, except most prisoners have jail mates, and you’re left with a child who doesn’t understand your struggles and problems and probably doesn’t want to, nor should they need to. You’ll try to busy yourself with a checklist of things to do, such as cleaning the house, working on a career project, and learning a new trade, but through it all, the lack of socialization and relevancy starts to take its toll.
I’ve been told that I have it easier than other mothers because I don’t have to chase toddlers around or pull siblings apart in a fight over toys, but the battle of the stay-at-home mom is the same all around. You see, we may be stay-at-home moms, but we’re exhausted just like the rest of the working class. We’ve got things to do: errands to run, dreams to catch, kids to feed, a house to clean, a husband to care for, and, if we’re lucky, our own selves to nurture at the end of a long, sticky, tiresome day.
So don’t ask us why we’re tired. We do just as much work as you do at your job, if not more, and all without getting paid. And don’t ask us why we don’t just get a job at the local theater. You don’t know our story, and you especially don’t know half of the mental wars we’ve fought. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laid on the bathroom floor and cried my eyes out.
We may love being there for our kids during important milestones, but the monotony of a daily routine, the impression of irrelevancy in our role, and stagnant progress with our dreams can get overwhelming. I think I speak for all stay-at-home moms when I say that if we could hire somebody to clean the house and watch the kids a few times a week, we would be able to accomplish our dreams and goals, regain our sanity, and uncover extraordinary ways to contribute to the family’s income in the blink of an eye. Instead, we’re doing all of that without that extra help.
So again, don’t ask us why we’re tired, don’t ask us to consider getting a job, and don’t ask us what we do all day because I can assure you that we’re not sitting on our butts. We may be stay-at-home moms but we’re also dreamers, doers, believers, and goal-getters. We identify ourselves as writers, painters, singers, cooks, and leaders. So I ask you to look past the stain of last night’s dinner on this morning’s t-shirt and recognize the hard work we put in on a daily basis, I ask you to consider the psychological strains we go through for the sake of the family, and I ask you to be more considerate with the role we play because it’s just as substantial as yours.