Ever wonder why I became a stay at home mom? I never wanted to. Never. I was a nanny and loved it, but I knew the challenges of being with kids all day. I always admired their moms. They were like superheroes – able to balance work, home, kids, school, dinner, cleaning, playtime. To name a few. I heard a lot of moms over the years that I met on the job say, “What a pity your boss isn’t able to take care of her own kids.” I bristled every time at that. Not only did my boss take care of her own kids, she made sure that whoever she entrusted with them cared for them the exact same way. So part of the day she wasn’t able to be at home – but in my mind it was quality, not quantity, that made the difference. When the mom came home that I worked for, her evenings, mornings and weekends were spent 100% with her family. She was a good mother who loved both her job and her family.
Once becoming a teacher, I decided I would continue to teach after having kids. I might take a few months off, but I wasn’t going to make it a life change. I didn’t even like summer break; sitting around the house for 3 months wasn’t my deal. I liked to be busy, to be organized, to have a purpose, and to bring home a paycheck.
When I got pregnant, it was a little over halfway though the school year. I knew I would have to take time off once Bella was born, but the plan was to have a sub and then for me to come back. At 2-3 months, Bella would go to an infant daycare center near where I worked.
When 14 weeks (the promised “You won’t be sick anymore!” time) came and went, and I still was throwing up every single morning, afternoon and evening, I began to wonder if I would be able to start a whole other year like this. I taught kindergarten, so it wasn’t easy to explain to the kids why I had to run out of the room constantly to throw up in the small potty. I spent the last few weeks of the school year hunched over my desk wanting to die. I have little notes I saved from one of my students who worried I was dying that says, “Mrs. – I so sorry for you” with an unhappy face next to it. One little girl told me her dad drank the same stuff I did (ginger ale) only just at night and she wasn’t allowed to have any. I explained that we were having two entirely different drinks.
During the summer I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarium – in other words – morning sickness forever. Or until I went into labor. Knowing that, I made a decision not to return to school. I just couldn’t imagine being that sick, driving 60 miles round trip, and working 8-10 hours a day. There were times I would have to pull over, jump out of the car, and barf into the weeds on the side of the road. In my head I imagined a mother driving past, pointing me out to her kids and saying, “Look children, the evils of alcohol at work right there. And it’s only Tuesday morning. Shameful.”
After resigning, I wondered how on earth I was going to pass the time until December when Bella was due. I began to question if I had done the right thing, after all, now we had no income on my end, and with Zofran I could somewhat function, even if I wasn’t 100%. I looked around for a part time job. However, at 30 weeks I went into preterm labor and was placed on modified bedrest. At 34 weeks I was placed on strict bedrest because my contractions wouldn’t stop. I laid on the couch, or in bed, and became further convinced there was no way I would be happy being a SAHM. I was dead certain that I couldn’t be stuck in my house all day. I didn’t want to. I had to think of something once she was born. After calling the infant daycare center to get weekly pricing, I found out that almost any job in my town would pay just enough for me to put her into daycare. With a little left over for gas. I was horrified.
At 37 weeks I went into labor. At that point they didn’t try to stop it, she was healthy enough to be born. Sam and I were home 2 days later and began to adjust to life with a newborn. I’ll admit, for the first month or two I thought I was going to lose my mind. I had nothing to do, she was too little to take out, my parents had moved, and it was winter. To top it off, we sold our second car. Besides financial reasons, it was a 2 door Mercedes. Her car seat was almost as big as the car. So I really was stuck at home after that.
I missed getting ready for work, having a reason to take a shower and wear makeup, dealing with a boss that neither pooped nor vomited on me during the day, and feeling a sense of pride in that paycheck. I felt a little worthless staying at home all day.
There was a point after that we thought I might have to go back to work – soon. Surprisingly, I started to panic. I realized how much I loved my days at home with Bella. I got a kick out of doing the laundry with her watching, of planning my day around her naps, and keeping the house clean without the exhaustion of a full days work. I was looking forward to summer and getting out with her, taking her on trips to the park and the duck pond. I liked being able to tell Sam all the things she had learned how to do during the day when he was at work. Besides that, I was really, really tired by the end of the day. I couldn’t imagine the stress of trying to get her up and ready in the morning, along with me, and then come home and start all over again. With a dirty house and laundry waiting.
It was then my entire perspective on being a SAHM changed. I had always admired both types of moms, but for different reasons. I began to think about how tough I had always thought staying at home with an infant would be – and I was right, it was. In a different way than I had pictured though. The rewards were far greater than I could have imagined. In a small way, I felt pride that I was able to handle being with a crying, barfing infant all day. I never thought I would be able to do that.
I also gained an even greater respect for working moms. I’ll give you props – most of you ladies I know are always the first to admit -“I don’t know how you SAH moms do it.” But you know what? I honestly don’t know how you do it – how you get up every day and go to work, tired or not. How you manage to keep it all together, to find time to help out at school, to make lunches, to be up all night with a sick child with the knowledge that in 3 hours you’ll have to get ready for another day. Whether you choose to work because you love it, or because you have to, you’re still an amazing person in my book.
I love what I do, and I am always thankful that for at least right now, I don’t have to work. My days can be long, sometimes I think back to times when my conversations consisted of more than, “We don’t eat our barf”, “That’s a great poo!”, or singing the $5 dollar foot long song to make Bella smile. My days also didn’t have a child gazing at me adoringly from her jumperoo, or making me laugh at the way her head wobbles when she gets excited over something shiny. Maybe I wasn’t a SAHM by choice, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world now.