Two weeks ago My Guy gave me the greatest gift ever and stayed home with our two crazy kids while a friend and I jetted to California for my best friend’s wedding. For five glorious days I was in charge of only me (and perhaps a few things for the bride). I got to pee in peace. I only read books that interested me. I didn’t prepare a single chicken nugget or PB&J sandwich.
Girl, I spoke in complete sentences. None of this, “the reason I called you—dude, keep your hands off your sister!—is that I wanted to know if—I mean it. Leave her alone.—what was I saying?”
Don’t get me wrong. I missed my man and kiddos. I talked about them to anyone who would listen. I shared an inappropriate number of family photos. And by the end of those five days, I was ready to snuggle my people.
I returned to the East Coast to find a man suffering from cabin fever who gladly opened a vein and signed a contract agreeing to unlimited solo coffee breaks at Starbucks for Mommy. And I’m pretty darn sure he’s decided against becoming a stay-at-home-dad. He said—and I quote—“Your job is way harder than mine.”
Can I get an amen?
Let’s be honest here
You want to know one thing that made me crazy in the early years of marriage and motherhood? The lack of honest information. It didn’t seem like women were sharing the nitty-gritty-down-and-dirty truth about these stages of life. I was downright angry about the sugar-coating many women seemed to apply to the glimpses of life they shared.
I’m not about to do that with you. Especially if you’re considering life as a work-at-home-mom (WAHM)—and for the record, most stay-at-home moms fall into this category—this is a realistic list of some things you can expect.
So here’s what I’ve learned in my four-plus years of being a WAHM. Your take might be totally different, especially if your kids are older or you work outside the home. I’m not saying one lifestyle is better than the other. This is just my life—the only life I can really talk about.
Being a WAHM is often boring
This, my friend, was quite a shock. And at first, I thought maybe it was just me. I mean, come on. How can I possibly be bored when I have more on my plate than ever before? Not only do I have a house and a career to maintain, but now I’ve got this little life that’s 100% dependent upon me.
Here’s the ugly truth: while it looks great on your Instagram feed, preparing bottles, playing preschool games, and building Lego creations gets old fast. I’m not a patient woman, and I want to do what I want to do.
That’s why this quote comforted me. This boredom I often feel is normal. It doesn’t mean I’m doing anything wrong. It just is.
“Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow too. Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own.” -Marguerite Kelly
Being a WAHM can feel unproductive
Seriously. Before we had kids, I could clean and straighten the house and it pretty much stayed that way. I could leave unfinished work on my desk to return to at a later hour, and no one messed with it. I could pour a cup of coffee and drink it before it cooled.
These days? I feel like I’m doing good if the living room doesn’t make me scream when I walk in there. There are messes where I had no clue messes could live.
Some days, as I sit at my “desk” (aka the kitchen table) and attempt to focus on work, my attention is called away every other minute. Tasks that once took a few minutes now require most of the day, simply because interruptions are a fact of life.
These are the times I need to review my priorities. Yes, providing for my family financially is important, as is honoring my deep-seated drive to be engaged in meaningful work beyond the reaches of my family. But my list really needs to begin with meeting the needs of My Guy and kids. Even when it feels like that means getting nothing else done.
The WAHM life can get lonely
When you work at home, loneliness is a real thing. Sometimes I just need to pack the littles up and run to Safeway for the sake of my sanity. I need to see tall people.
While I do have strategies for combating the loneliness, such as text chats, weekday classes for us all, and regular outings, the loneliness is also something I must embrace. It’ll be years—if ever—before I can focus on my socialization rather than that of my children. This is why working on my own emotional wellbeing is a huge necessity during this stage of my life.
I’m a WAHM, and I chose this gig
Being a WAHM is a choice. Our family could live on one income. It wouldn’t be very much fun, but it’s doable. Or we could have our kids in daycare and I could get a job outside the house without the
distraction benefit of my little companions. But I’ve known my entire life that I wanted to stay home with my kids. So as crazy as I often feel—as bored, overwhelmed, unproductive, and lonely as I get—this is the life I chose.
Yes, there are painful truths about life as a work-at-home mom, but there’s also a lot of good. I have to continually choose to acknowledge the hard parts while really focusing on the goodness. God has blessed me with two precious souls who love me and depend upon me. It doesn’t get much better than that.