“Mom, you’re silly. Moms don’t work.”
This is what my four year old said to me as we were driving in the car one day. We were having a conversation about why the mother of one of her classmate’s was not at the event they had scheduled at school that day. She asked where her friend’s mom was and I told her that her mother worked.
It was then that those words fell out of her mouth and landed like a bomb in the middle of my car. I felt my heart hammering in my chest and looked in the rearview mirror.
I replied, “Of course moms work and it can be difficult to be away from their children or miss special events because they are helping provide for their family.”
She seemed to accept this answer and moved chattering about this and that while I was questioning everything I had ever taught her.
Was this my fault for choosing to be a stay-at-home mom? Did I not show her enough examples of strong women who worked and took care of their families? Better yet, had I not shown her that staying home is actually work?
The list of questions I was asking myself grew long, and I was reeling by the time we got home. Even though I had chosen to stay at home with her, I worked diligently to teach her that women can do anything. They can accomplish anything they put their minds to. I prided myself on discussing how women are strong and they do so much.
I always thought that when I had kids I would stay home first, and then get a job. I would have to juggle everything and sure it would be hard but I would manage.
Life has a funny way of messing with your plans.
I wasn’t clued into the fact that I would be marrying a military man. I wasn’t aware how much he would be gone with not only work-ups and deployments, but also the day-to-day squadron duties. I had no knowledge my first child would have tremendous breathing problems that would have her waking up all the time, all hours of the night until she turned twenty-six months old. I was not in the loop that by the time I got my feet on solid ground with my first, I would have my second while my husband was deployed.
I loved working
. I loved
feeling satisfaction after a hard day of work. I loved contributing to our household income. I always thought I would be able to get a job and handle everything at the same time. For years, I felt that to some degree I had failed by not doing it all perfectly
. This is always the part where my friends have patted me on the shoulder and said, “You didn’t fail, it’s hard work being a stay-at-hom mom.” I would always look at them, misty eyed, and reply, “I know.”
But here’s a little secret: I didn’t believe myself for the longest time.
It wasn’t until we were given orders to a town where I had previously worked that I began working again. This is when I realized how incredibly tough it is being a stay-at-home mom. I always knew in the back of my head that being a mom was indeed tough, but I usually looked at my friends and would marvel at the amazing jobs they did while their husbands were deployed.
I rarely recognized what I was doing, which was exactly the same thing.
When I began working I was thrown into an arena where I could have adult conversations with (gasp) real adults! No one threw tantrums or fought over toys. I could work an entire shift without having to talk, discipline or explain something one hundred times. I could go to work and concentrate solely on my job. It was then that I realized how extremely difficult and simply amazing being a stay-at-home mother is.
The work of a mother is thankless and relentless. There are no sick days and you can’t call out if you feel like you don’t want to go. Time alone, even inside your own head, is rare. Spills, spit-up and butt wiping are the norm. There are moments where I have no idea what to do next. There are hundreds of questions asked everyday, some (most) I have to Google answers to, and my lack of concentration could win a medal.
In a way, my daughter was right.
From her little point of view she simply didn’t see any “work” being done. Instead, she saw a mom getting down on the floor and playing matching games
, not a teacher helping her build cognitive skills. She saw a woman making delicious cookies for her to devour
, not a baker who was teaching her how to follow a recipe. She saw a mom encouraging her in sports and activities
, not a coach teaching her how to be a team player and a good sport. Stay-at-home mothers do so much for their children, most of the time without realizing it, and all of it matters.
I rarely realized how much my daughter was seeing of the “work” I was doing at home. Although, initially, I was flabbergasted at the thought of her not realizing that women worked outside the home, a huge part of my heart was proud that she saw all the work I did everyday.
The work I did in the home with her and her sister was such a normal thing to her that she simply didn’t realize that work was being done. Although I was initially worried, I realized that I wouldn’t want my kids thinking they were “work” to me anyway.
Did you work before staying at home or do you work part-time or full-time now? How did that affect your perspective of the work choices moms make?
I’d love to hear your story! Share in the comments below.
Heather lives in Florida with her husband, two girls and two pups. She is a lover of most things in life, too many to name here without scaring you, but a few include working out, learning new recipes, Pinterest, organizing (yes, it’s true!), home decor and learning to lead a more minimal and purposeful life.
At the end of 2014, she was feeling unhappy, burnt out and discouraged but couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was making her feel that way. She started Just Becoming Me as a venture to better understand herself and what will lead her towards a more fulfilling life. Her motto is: “We only have one life, and I want to learn to live mine in a way that gets me excited to jump out of bed.”
Fun fact: Heather is a friend of mine in real life-not just in blog land. I lived near her when her husband was deployed for the first time and know as a fellow military spouse all the “work” Heather had to take on as a military wife and stay-at-home mom. She and I, along with our oldest children, had frequent playdates and shared a lot about being a mom and the different choices moms make to care for their children and themselves.
I am thrilled that Heather was willing to share here and she will be sharing more starting this Fall! Her perspective is one that many of you can relate to as being a stay-at-home mom can often feel like it was thrown at you and not really your choice. I think Heather has great insights and advice about balancing that feeling of wanting to balance work and home, and I am eager for her to share more as the months go on.
Thank you so much, Heather for being candid and so insightful about the work moms do each day!
For more stories of motherhood, subscribe to the Survival Guide newsletter to receive weekly updates of snippets of mom motivation and kids activities via email.
Join with me and other moms over on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Looking to connect with other Stay-at-Home Moms for support and connection? Join our private Facebook group.
©2015 The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide All rights reserved.