Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stay At Home Sybil

I think we are all aware that I am a Stay At Home Mom now.  I'm not really sure how it happened. 

It first came up in July of 2011 when we were still hopeful that Ainsley would continue to improve and would get to come home.  And with her coming home would come the round-the-clock care requirement that comes with a ventilator dependent child.  The main plan was to cross our fingers that we would get enough nursing care through the state to allow us both to continue working.

But no matter how much you cross your fingers, you can never count on luck.  Especially our luck.  Our luck tends to suck. 

And so in July of 2011 I decided that I would make our lives work without my paycheck.  Just in case I couldn't keep working.  Mark and I made almost equal salaries, so the loss of one would definitely be noticeable.  Better to be prepared.  So I threw all of my paychecks toward paying off our cars and then building up our savings.

Then I got super surprise pregnant.  The optimistic side of me thought: hey.  No biggie.  We can afford a nanny.  I will keep working!

The realist side of me thought: this is the end of my career.  Or the beginning of my sabbatical.  Or, I think  this is piss.

Photo Credit: Click Here

Mourning the possible loss of your career can make you feel like a pretty big dick if your chronically ill child dies.  And then that's what happened.  Ainsley died, and then Adelle was born, and then I decided that I couldn't go back to work.  I just couldn't.

I never aspired to be a Stay at Home Mom.  I liked working.  But something changed after all of that drama and I just felt like I had to be with the girls for a bit.  I think they would have been fine if I went back to work but I don't know if I would have been fine.  And so, being fortunate to have the financial means and an agreeable husband, I quit my pretty decent job to try my hand at being home full time.

The truth is that I'm starting to feel more like a Stay at Home Sybil.

People ask all the time how I like being a Stay at Home Mom.  The acceptable answer goes like this, "I love it!  I am so blessed!  They are only little once!"  Right?  Isn't that what you expect to hear?  And all of that is true sometimes, but sometimes the days are incredibly long and I am exhausted and all I want to do is run down the street and shove my face under the soft serve machine at Dairy Queen until they call the police and have me arrested.

I feel like I have a better chance of getting some sleep in jail than I do at my house.

Today was a challenge.  Adelle is going through a sleepless crab ass phase and is difficult to please.  I spent all morning trying unsuccessfully to make her happy.  I resorted to carrying her around which worked pretty well except when I tried to hold her while I went pee and then bonked her head on the wall.  That did not go over well at all.

When I finally got her to nap, I searched for jobs online.  Contemplated child care.  Ate string cheese.

And then after her nap she was ZOMG HAPPY and super fun, and I felt like a crazy person for wanting to go back to work right now when everything was so perfect!  Sunshine!  Rainbows! Quick - someone ask me if I like being at home with the kids!


Adelle Sophia Knepper
Consistently Inconsistent

For now, I'm staying at home.  I've got two tiny little dictators for bosses, and they are equal parts demanding and cute. 

Some days, I am bad ass at being a Stay at Home Mom. I am showered and dressed, the house is clean, dinner is planned, and my kids are happy all day. 

Some days, I am a stinky unshowered pajama wearing hot ass mess who appears to live in the home of a dirty hoarder and who has maniacal screaming kids and a never ending case of PMS and I'm shoving the baby at Mark as soon as he walks in the door. 

Some days I fluctuate wildly between the two extremes.

Please tell me I am not alone in this.

50 comments:

Mrs. Higrens said...

You are not alone.

I'm "only" SAHMing one and even now that she's in preschool two mornings a week some days I just want to chuck it all and go back to work for some adult conversation which does not include the words pee or mommmmmmy.

Oh and she had Mickey D's for lunch as a bribe to get her through our wal-mart grocery run without embarrassing the hell out of me. I don't need her help to do that, YKWIM?

Jennifer said...

Ha! I have often thought that getting arrested would be the key to a good nights sleep. However, my neighbor happens to be a prison guard and assures me I will not be happy in jail. I still might try!

Jorden and Kristin said...

you are NOT alone! i feel like i kick ass a lot of days, and then my husband comes home and i realize all i did that day was shower and get out of my pajamas into somewhat clean sweats! haha

glad you can stay home with the girls! it may seem awful now but you have plenty of time to work later! I can't WAIT until I can be a full time SAHM!

Jackie Shultz said...

You are never alone!!!!

Rebecca said...

Being a stay at home mom is kinda like childbirth. It sucks as much as it's amazing. It's as painful as it is giggles and laughter.

You just have to try and speed through the bad parts *epidural/coffee* and coast through the good parts.

mrsyak said...

Not alone!!!! The biggest shocker to me was how much I craved Mondays. At least I can be a hot mess without someone eyeing me and my "momness" all day!

I've got a 3 year old and 2 year old twins. It's a mad house!

Also, I'm not a fan of fear based decisions, but staying at home is one of those for me. When I was pregnant with the twins I couldn't get the thought "what if something happened" to me or the kids....what mattered most? For me the answer was time. Me working provided us with wants not needs, so while budgeting (yay! Dave) is always hard, we have our needs covered. And honestly, it's only a little harder than it would be if I was employed and we spent $800 a (freaking) WEEK on daycare!

Hannah said...

I was so eager to SAH when I got pregnant with my (first and only) baby. I didn't love my job or being employed, and though we are pretty much actually poverty-stricken, it was something I felt strongly about doing. My son is 10 months old now, and I can really say that this is sort of the worst job I've ever had. There are so many days when I have just felt like screaming, when I haven't gotten a shower, when the last thing I want to do is see a baby. On the other hand, when I think about it, I honestly wouldn't trade it and go back to work. There have been many wonderful moments too, and they outweigh the tough ones, though when things are going badly, I can never seem to remember the good parts. Any way, you are not alone.

Unknown said...

So not alone!! Some days I feel like maybe going back to work would give me some sanity, but then those big blue eyes look at me, and I'm glad that I'm able to afford the opportunity to stay home. Plus daycare is ridic expensive!!

rebecca said...

Thank you for posting this!! I can SO relate to what you wrote. I had never planned to be a SAHM either and then we relocated and one thing led to another and now I'm doing the SAHM gig. I have done the exact same thing, looking for a job while baby naps trying to retain my sanity. I'm glad to know I'm not alone!

Megan said...

Oh holy hell. I know the exact feeling. I'm sailing along great, rocking the pre-dinner cranky hour and then the 3-yr-old decides its the perfect time to "help" his sister "walk.". How quickly the day can get flipped on its head.

Meghan1009 said...

I needed to read this today. I've always wanted to be a SAHM and then when we decided that now was the time (my daughter just turned 2) I was all yay! sunshine! roses! laughter! rainbows and unicorns!
I've been home since June. It started off strong...and I feel that I'm starting to lose my mind. Like, it's been a really, really hard week for me. I feel like it doesn't matter what I do: I work my ass off to make it a perfect home, and no one notices. I don't do anything, and the house falls apart and I then spiral into feeling worthless and like I'm "failing" at staying home. And the no money thing sucks too.
It's super super hard, and it's what I always wanted and it's a mix of emotions on a daily (hourly?) basis. I love my kid so much that I feel guilty when it's not great. Thanks for writing this!

Ella said...

ZOMG SO NOT ALONE!!!! I have both those kinds of days too as a SAHM and go back and forth between thinking I am a horrible mother and my kid would be better off with someone else all day and RELISHING my time with her/at home and feeling like this is where she and I need to be. I feel schizo!!

Sara said...

Nope not alone at all. This is the natural ways of SAHMs. At least, for me it is.

Rotten said...

I'm pretty sure every SAHM on the planet, save those that tend to drink a lot and enjoy every second of being a SAHM will agree with you on all points. I love the days when I have all of my shit together including dinner for both kids and then my husband when he gets home not to mention feeding the dog, folding AND putting away the laundry and cleaning up the house as well as the playroom thus allowing myself a moment to enjoy a nice glass of wine with my feet up before my husband gets home. Those days are rare but I soak them up when they happen. Which reminds me, I have a load of forgotten laundry in the washing machine that I must move to the dryer and my husband is bringing home dinner. :) Oh, but I am still drinking my glass of wine.

Caroline said...

Word.

Jill and Rich said...

I often tell my husband that being a SAHM makes me feels like I'm bipolar. One minute I am one more whine away from completely losing it, and LITERALLY the next minute they will do something awesome and I'm all, "Remember this moment! my kids are so adorable I want to cry!" It is wonderful and awful, often at the same time.

Frequently, when I tell people I sta at hom, they tell me what a gift I'm giving to my kids, etc, and I always think, really? Because I know a lot of better moms than me who work full time. But I can definitely point to the concrete fact that my kids are together because I am at home. If they were in daycare, the would be in different classes, but here they are (hopefully!) building a relationship every day that will last the rest of their lives. And to me, that's worth my sabbatical for now.

Amy said...

So not alone.

Jennjilla said...

I work from home, and keep the baby home one day a week. That one day is the longest. day. Ever. Love my time, but it's hard to do work and do parenting - at the same time. I don't really recommend it. I wish I was a full time SAHM, because juggling can be exhausting.

Sunny said...

Oh mama, you are so not alone! I have been a SAHM for about four years now. (Holy shit, where does the time go?) I think it's absolutely fantastic that I don't have to work, I love being able to spend time with my boys while they are all home and still think I'm the bestest person in the world. Except on the days where I want to hop into the minivan and high-tail it to Canada. :/

Jacksmom said...

Oh you are SO NOT ALONE! I used to say I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Then I realized that working 3 nightshifts a week and being at home with the kids all day makes me kind of both. The only thing I miss 3 nights a week is putting my boys to bed. I do everything else and then either drop them at my mom's when both hubby and I are working or I leave them with hubby. To be honest there are days that I feel like I run to work to get away from whiny sassy pants 5 year old boy and demanding boobies nonstop 9 month old boy. I always feel guilty for feeling that way but its perfectly normal from what I gather from friends. I freak myself out sometimes that im the only mom who feels like she is bipolar with her feelings about being home with the kids all the time. Hang in there!

Amelia said...

You are NOT alone. Fuck that laundry, vodka has priority.

Losh said...

Absolutely not alone! I am a part time SAHM in that I work 2 days a week. Those 2 days give me a bit of myself back so I can be a better mummy for the rest of the week.

Even so, just like any job there are good days and bad days. Some days I too, feel like I have completely rocked the SAHM gig and feel nicely smug and fulfilled. Other days I feel like a complete failure - house messy, check. Kid whining, check. Sandwiches for dinner, check!

Nothing is perfect.

Milla said...

You are doing a wonderful thing for your girls. That doesn't mean you are not still human - spending every hour of the day with any person on earth would result in some of those hours being torture, even if the person is your baby. So loving it and hating it makes sense. If you were out at paid work you would be thinking the same thing about your job and also the guilt.

You are definitely not alone. I was desperate to leave the house this morning (for work). It's not pretty but it's true. By this afternoon I will be counting down the minutes till I can get back there. x

Superstar said...

You are not alone. I had a horrific day yesterday, what with screaming seven month old boys, poop in the tub, puking 4 yr old, etc etc etc. I haven't slept through the night in damn near a year. Right now, the boys are wide eyed and bushy tailed, crawling around the living room floor at six a.m. Problem is, if I went back to work, I'd hve to deal with slightly less screaming but everything else squeezed into three evening hours. No thanks. This is the hardest job ever. You are on 24/7 with no potty breaks and zero vacation. I love 'em to pieces, but I'm exhausted.

HereWeGoAJen said...

Yeah. Most definitely. It helps to schedule lots of things to do. That's why I kept looking until I found a moms club that worked for me. I try to have an activity at least four days a week. Otherwise Elizabeth is a bored jerk and I am stir crazy for lack of adult conversation.

mjb said...

I have a nanny for my 3 month and 2 year old, and I'm afraid she'll quit after going through her days with 2 screamers! And she's at least getting paid for it!

Samantha said...

I totally relate.

The Lamentings From A Slow and Joyful Descent Into Madness: said...

Thanks for posting this story. I experienced loss early in my livf and then an aggressive rewarding career path that most people would love to have had. When my child was born and complications arose - there was no choice - I wanted nothing more then to stay home. Life is so short and precious and I didn't want to miss it buried behind a computer or on a plane. I strive for balance to have it all and I know for a fact major executives would crack if they had to do this. Some days I just push through waitingfor naptime so I can check my email. I still stand though - it's a prices less experience and gift - and like all things tough we get to come out the other end with so much more then we started. You're doing great and you touch people with your writing on top of it - which makes you awesome.

The Lamentings From A Slow and Joyful Descent Into Madness: said...

Sorry for the typos - iPad and puffy morning fingers :)

thelambentlife said...

After being home for 3 years, I still go through this same cycle weekly. I never planned on being a SAHM and when I did leave my (fantastic, challenging, wonderful, bill-paying) job, it was only supposed to be temporary and until we got settled after our move south. And then, baby number 2 happened and I realized I couldn't really afford to put two kids in daycare and still make a decent buck.

I have to get out of the house. I joined a meet up group for moms forced myself to meet other people. A lot of them were crazy. But a few were golden.

mamab said...

I'm pretty sure you aren't alone. While I'm one of those working mom's that's totally jealous of you, I have nights (a whole 3 hours) where I'm so glad I can take my kids to the sitter in the morning.

Katie said...

Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for writing this. I thought that I was alone in this. I have a 2 year old and 7 week old twins. We are trying a new "routine" to get them to sleep and it is driving me bonkers. They do not do anything that the book says that they will. I love the consistently inconsistent because I have 2 of those monsters.

Heather said...

Anyone who thinks SAHM's eat bon-bons all day would be dead wrong except when they're partially right and you are shoving leftover (er, we wouldn't steal from our kids candy bucket!) Halloween candy in your face because you think it just might save you from mental breakdown while your child is screaming over something undetermined or stupid and you haven't shaved your legs or seen anything adult on television for 3 years. Yes, it has it's rewards, but it is often the most difficult job in the world, and no one is paying you for it. Except in drool, giggles, and toddler-nekkid-dancing-to-the-Curious-George-TV-show-theme. Which is nice but not helpful in paying bills or buying groceries. You go, Mama. At least some stranger isn't enjoying your children's charming moods and they'll call you Mom instead of some lady at Daycare. :-)

Sara said...

I was a stay at home mom for a year and a half. I went back one day a week and that was nice. Now I am two days a week and three days at home. Sometimes I'm like "I love it. Best of both worlds. Work and kids. Building up my savings, and still basically being a SAHM!" then other days I'm like "I hate being a SAHM, they hate me and I can't do anything right. Our house would be clean if we weren't in it all the time, and they would be way smarter if someone qualifies was teaching them!" Lately its been "I HATE my job so bad I want to burn it down (its a hospital, whoopsie) and all I want to do is stay home all the time and mold young minds and snuggle and make birdfeeders with peanut butter and pinecones." You nailed the Sybil bit. Nailed it. I'm three in one. Its hard to feel like you can't do anything right, and the gratification of getting your job done, ever, is awesome. I feel so good at work when all my paperwork is done, all my patients go home. I ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING!!!! I never accomplish anything at home. Ever. But I have two really cute kids that love me so freakin much and it is true, they are only young once. Sybil Sybil Sybil.....

Inara Jones said...

I've been a SAHM for 3 years. Yeah, totally feel the same way. That's all I can say.

Melissa said...

I could have written this post, that's how not alone you are.

allthesunforyou said...

You describe it perfectly! Until you are a SAHM, you have no idea what it's like. I thought that I would have fantastic dinners ready every night, activities planned every day, and that I'd look like a wife my husband was proud of - every day. Instead, I struggle to get dinner done because my child loves "helping" in the kitchen (burns), we have activities planned only 3 days a week, and I sport the ponytail most days because my son won't settle long enough for me to get my hair done.

REALITY.

It is a great thing to do if you have the desire, and the means, to do it. But holy hell, it's hard.

Mary said...

Don't worry you are not alone! I tell my friends I hope to witness a murder so I'll be put into witness protection and hidden somewhere....where I can sleep, eat, pee all by myself. Of course it's a joke....but there are some days (probably at least once a day!) that I feel I can't do this another day, but I do. Whatever you decide isn't wrong or right....it's about staying in the game.

Melissa said...

I'm always jealous of those who are able to chuck their paycheck and stay at home. I'm all, "I guess their husband makes a shit ton of money so whatever", but it's nice to her that you guys make about the same and can make it work. I've gone over it a million times this past year and I just couldn't figure it out. I guess we just don't make enough. Oh well, we all have our mom battles on what we should do and in the end it works out how it works out. I really enjoy your honesty on your blog. Sunshine blogs make me want to puke.

Amy and Rick said...

So normal. So so normal. I thought you would never hear someone call you normal. : )

Staying home is THE HARDEST JOB YOU WILL EVER HAVE...and when you think it can't get harder it will. And then it will get easier. And then harder. And then you'll eat sring cheese and open a bottle of wine and all will be right with the world.

kharris said...

You are not alone in that >:)

Whitney said...

You. Are. Not. Alone. Not at all! I live for the days where I'm Stepford Mom-esque and the crock pot roast smells delicious at 5:00PM as the Mr. walks in the door and the little one still has a bow in her hair. But most days? Struggles from the moment I open my eyes in the morning. It is THE hardest job in the world. But you're present and *that* is going to make all of the difference as the girls grow up. You're doing a great job!

B. Wilson said...

As if the 42 comments before me didn't spell it out.

We all hear ya loud and clear. And we're all part of the party.

There have been some days (mostly when the tike was a weeee little one and not the big boy he is at 8 months) where I would've PAID to work.

aftertheyhatch said...

I really just wrote a post about this. And I use the F word a lot in it. http://aftertheyhatch.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/i-have-a-secret/

starcrossedmommy said...

Nope. Not alone. It's ok to feel overwhelmed. It's ok to wonder how much therapy your kids are gonna need after a craptastic day-- or if you should be in therapy for even thinking it was a good idea.

And it's ok to veer from that to feeling so happy you get to see the smiles, that you Did Something They Will Always Cherish, that this was indeed a good idea, this whole staying at home thing.

It's ok. It's ok. It's ok.

Mina said...

Let's just start a club, why don't we? International Women of Leisure - because that is what everyone thinks of us.
I've got two tiny incompetent bosses to please as well. They are having my lame fat bottom for breakfast, lunch and tea. Except when the toddler actually eats something (else than sweets) and the baby is still boobie dependent. Otherwise, yeah, I am blogging about the same thing now. All those years and hard work studying in Uni do not pay off now, when I am barely able to care for two children.
Long way of saying just what the other 40+ comments say: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

The Oddest Prime said...

"People ask all the time how I like being a Stay at Home Mom. The acceptable answer goes like this, "I love it! I am so blessed! They are only little once!" Right? Isn't that what you expect to hear? And all of that is true sometimes, but sometimes the days are incredibly long and I am exhausted and all I want to do is run down the street and shove my face under the soft serve machine at Dairy Queen until they call the police and have me arrested.

I feel like I have a better chance of getting some sleep in jail than I do at my house."

I want to quote this because it is the truth. May I at some point when I'm less exhausted and have time to be humorous again on my own blog?

Rebecca said...

I think that part of what contributes to the ambivalence is the lack of a paycheck. Seriously - if we have been working and give that up, I think it is so easy to feel like we aren't contributing enough because society values *making good money* SO much more than *doing good work*. So we tend to downplay all of our accomplishments with our children. As for me, my husband and I had the same job (except he had tenure, so if one of us was going to quit it was a no brainer that it would be me). By the time my first was born I lasted one semester before I got pregnant with number two, which we wanted anyway but THANK GOD because I could not handle the stress of working while I had a small child, let alone two, and as an untenured faculty member there was no financial incentive for day care. I would have lost over half my salary. (Maybe it is easier when they are older, I don't know. My oldest is five.)

That was four years ago. More. I am happy at home, mostly, although it is exhausting and I don't even have a newborn! And I don't really miss my work that much, the job sucked and was full of yucky politics, but I do sometimes feel like what I do isnt valued. I guess I miss using my brain the way I did when I had four years of undergrad and five years of grad school to establish my career! It is hard to derive the same type of feelings of self worth from this as from career. It is wrong that that is the case, but there it is.

So, no. Not alone.

robyncalgary said...

A-freaking-men Dairy Queen comment!

Wiz said...

Oh, thank you for writing this! Being a SAHM was one of those things I said I would NEVER do. I loved working and knew I would be terrible at it. Then my husband got offered a dream job, in another state, which required us to move when we conveniently had a three week old. With the demands of his new job, a new baby and my getting accidently knocked up again, well, I am now staying home for the long haul. Who would of thought a CPA's job could sound so appealing sometimes. Because I am dramatic, everytime I have a bad day, my husband hears about it and comes to the conclusion that I hate my life (which maybe I have said.) But then there are good days and days that I am good at this! I am pretty sure he is scared to come home because he doesnt know which Heather he is coming home too!