As a stay-at – home parent, there have been days in my years when I have felt so overwhelmed that the room starts spinning and I start trembling. Perhaps the kids are cranky, incessantly complaining about food. One will not get out of the car, one will not get inside. It’s just one of those days we ‘re running late and at the same time everyone has to poop. The smallest things can sometimes cause me.
Here are the stuff that can break a mom
It’s usually a day I didn’t sleep enough (which is pretty much everyday). Or a day when I’m stressed out about something beyond my life as a mum and I can’t help but bring it to the table. Very often, on the days I lose it really, it’s a mixture of stuff, days after days of stress that crashes down on me. It’s the isolation of it too — the fact that I’m the only one in charge of these tiny humans every day for 12 hours and at least half of the night for some weeks. In short, being a SAHM mum is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, hands down.
The toughest thing is not to be allowed to demonstrate how challenging it is
But do you know what is one of the stressiest things about it? I feel like I can’t complain — that I’m not able to show any of the anxiety and tension and fear with which I live on a daily basis. I think anyone who’s been a SAHM, particularly one with so little outside support, would tell you it’s more gruelling, and more physically and emotionally exhausting than they would expect. Indeed, a 2012 Gallup poll found that SAHMs are more likely than working moms to experience stress and frustration.
The thing is, the rest of the world doesn’t really realise how rough our lives are — many won’t even remember that. Capable of staying home with your kids these days is seen as something that only a fortunate few can really afford to do. And, even if that means cutting coupons and living in a tiny house while your children are young, it’s certainly seen as something that only someone with certain wealth can do.
You ‘re not in an office after all-you ‘re home all day. You probably don’t pull in any money. Most of the work you do is invisible: until it’s filthy, no one sees an unclean kitchen, no one knows just how many meals we prepare for our babies, or how many messes we clean up from them. The thing is, a SAHM ‘s experience is always drastically different from that. It is work, just like any other job. Think about it: If you weren’t living with them at home, you would have to pay someone else for it.
Not all of that’s sunshine and roses. Kids grate on their nerves. Their needs are constant. And that’s it. Not. Not. Finish. Not even when the pillow is finally falling down your back. But, if most people see a SAHM ‘s life as an exalted place for someone to be in, one they will most likely prefer for themselves, and one that is not really really called “work,” then how are we supposed to feel like we should wind up somehow about how bad our days are sometimes?
Start understanding how hard SAHMs work
It’s dumb to equate a mother’s work to the other jobs people are doing in the world, but for some of us, it’s as physically and mentally demanding as any other job you can name. We never get breaks, not even for meals. And we have every damn right by God to complain. To sob. Often we are made to think about how stressed, frustrated and all flipping exhausted being a SAHM. All that doesn’t mean we love our children any less. And none of this means that we don’t know for a second how lucky we are to be with them for so much of their infancy.
It simply means we ‘re human, and truthful. What we SAHMs need in our lives is more honesty. We need to open up to our friends, our families, ourselves and each other, about our hardships. We don’t have to put on a happy face all the time, or say we’ve worked it all out. We need to be able to ask for assistance and suggest ways to make this whole thing easier for ourselves. I know that if I have opened up to my fellow mom friends about my challenges as a SAHM, what I have always earned is grace, not judgement. And, having sincerely shared these challenges with my wife, what I got back is not an eye roll, but compassion.
Most of all, when I was completely frank with myself as to how much I suffered, I was actually able to think more about how I could lessen my burden a little and make a better life for myself and my children. That’s the thing: it almost always burns out a mother who is exhausted to “just take it,” without voicing her needs. A mom who gives and gives without getting anything back in return will finally no longer be able to give anything to anyone. So it’s important that we SAHMs take care of ourselves, and that begins with owning up to the fact that what we are doing is real work. We deserve the same respect, appreciation and affirmation that everybody else has.