We have all seen them, the hilarious “stay at home” vs. “working mom” memes. I never really put too much thought into it as I figured to each their own, but I have always known I wanted a career. Then, 2020 came along bringing with it lots of change, and just like that “it” happened: I switched sides. I went from walking through life with Dolly Parton’s “9 To 5” playing, proudly rocking my business casual get-up, helping college students, to abruptly switching the soundtrack of my life to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” while being home 24/7, trying to entertain two energetic littles, hanging on to any remnant of sanity I have left.
#Quarantine2020 robbed me of the freedom to choose whether I wanted to be a “stay-at-home” mom, forcing me to be one; and let me be the first to say, it is not for the faint at heart.
Have you ever tried to clean your home with a toddler present? It really is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos. What about having to entertain a toddler and baby all day, every day, for ALL of the days? Keep in mind you’re doing this while the outside world is a complete horror movie, and you’re trying your best to stay sane. It’s harder than my day job for sure. This is why, for as long as I can remember, I knew I did not want to be a SAHM. Let me first state the obvious: I absolutely, unequivocally, more than life itself love the little people God entrusted to me, but I would be lying through my caffeine stained teeth if I said I did not enjoy time away from them from time to time. I genuinely enjoy filling that time with a career, one I take pride in and genuinely enjoy. It gives me great pleasure knowing I contribute to my household. Though I never would’ve admitted this, in the back of my narrow-thinking mind, I didn’t think SAHMs could relate to my feelings at all, but what they say is true: experience is the best teacher.
Monday, March 23rd, was my first official day in my new role of SAHM. Like going to an actual job, I went into it with a calendar full of events to ensure the days to come would be productive. I had activities pre-planned in my head, a list of things to get done around the house, groceries were stocked and I knew what we’d be having for dinner that week. I was ready to go and rock it, but then nothing ended up going as planned, productivity was non- existent, and all we did for those first few days was literally survive. Defeat had reared her ugly head, and I had no one to blame but the judgment inside of me welcoming her. I quickly learned being a SAHM may not be the same as leaving the house to go to a job and work like I had done, but please understand, there’s definitely work to be done.
I work as a Higher Education professional so for a comparison, I liken being a working mother to taking an on-ground class. You show up routinely, you excel in the time allotted, and when you’re finished you get a break until next time. However, being a SAHM is like taking an online course. There is no next time, only an all the time because IT NEVER ENDS. Then one day as I laid next to my children while we watched a movie together, my toddler got tickled and my newborn reacted in the cutest way — a laugh, and his very first one, might I add. And that’s when it dawned on me: no paycheck in the world could pay me for witnessing that because the precious moment was invaluable.
While I contribute to my household financially as a working mom, I learned that SAHMs certainly do too. It just looks a little different. They, or we, now that I’ve joined the ranks, contribute by preparing food for our families. We establish a safe space for our children to play and explore. We keep our children occupied with learning, ensuring they are still progressing academically and developmentally. Plus, most importantly, we ensure our families are happy and feel loved. Staying at home has allowed me the opportunity to genuinely enjoy my kids — just hanging out with them, watching them bond with each other, and being able to do so without outside distractions like work deadlines or upcoming professional projects getting in the way of it.
This quarantine has taught me, up close and personal, just how challenging and demanding the life of a SAHM can be.
It’s also shown me the importance of their contribution to the home, even if it looks different than a working mom’s. It’s been quite the experience to say the least. As the world slowly moves towards normalcy again, my days as a SAHM will be ending soon, but the gems I have collected along this journey will last much longer. With that being said, I cannot help but wonder if I could do this full-time. In being honest with myself, I would have to say doing so part-time could be a happy medium. I enjoy being home with my kids, but I do not think I could see myself leaving the working world completely.