When I became pregnant, my husband and I asked each other the obvious question: who will stay home and watch the baby?
After much discussion and pinching numbers, we decided I would be the stay-at-home parent. I quit a job that paid well, promised work security, and had great benefits--in other words, a “real" job. I was nervous about letting this part of my life go, and I feared that my independent nature would suffer. I thought I would lose my identity and simply become “Mom" and “Wife". While some days are harder than others, the reward of watching my son develop and grow is worth all of the fussy days. My life of mom-hood has just begun, but already I am learning more about myself than when I worked in the corporate world.
Raising a baby is dirty, exhausting, and let's face it, there is no money to be made. But it has its own rewards. For instance, when my son laughs it's like time wraps us in a blanket and it's just the two of us in a warm cocoon. The fact that I'm not making money is irrelevant when I'm given these priceless moments throughout the day. Motherhood is a constant push and pull between reward and striving for patience. Like any job there are good and bad days.
Here are six comparisons of being a stay-at-home mother (SAHM) vs. a “real" job.
1. I Still Have a Boss
My son is the new boss in my life and even though he is much more adorable than my former manager, I still have to take his crap (literally). I conform to his schedule, I am his dancing monkey performing for his entertainment. He rules with an iron fist, all squishy 20 pounds of him.
2. I Can't Call HR for Personal Space Infringement
As a SAHM my days consist of a tiny human clinging to some body part or another all day long. I didn't anticipate the complete lack of personal space. Having an eight-month-old for a shadow is loud, messy, frustrating, and physically painful at times. His poop and snot have become an extension of my own bodily fluid; I can be covered in it and it doesn't even phase me. My husband will come home and ask, “Is that food or poop in your hair?" to which I respond, “Could be either, I haven't showered in days.". Mom confession: my kid sneezed sweet potato into my cereal today... I ate it while he laughed, I was too tired to care. No HR representative to document this complete violation of common courtesy, because this is motherhood.
3. I Still Go to Meetings
As a former engineering scheduler, technical writer, and editor I have a lot of meeting experience. As a stay at home mom, I still go to meetings. Now I go to story time meet-ups, a baby learning group, and a walking club. The awesome thing about my new meetings is that I get to choose which ones I attend and which ones I skip. Another bonus: the screaming tantrums are now age appropriate behavior. Whenever my son breaks down in a meeting, I remember that it's better to console a baby than an adult who doesn't get their way.
4. A New Dress Code
My business neutral wardrobe has been replaced with purple reindeer pajama pants and a baby food splattered t-shirt. “Dress for success" means yoga pants and running shoes because going the extra mile is now feeding the baby and going for a jog. My “must have" accessory is a panty-liner because I don't get scheduled bathroom breaks post-labor, they just...happen.
5. My Job Title of “Mother" and “Wife" Does Not Define Me
When I lost my “official" job title, I knew that I needed another label besides “mom"--something that was my own. Yes, I am a proud mother and wife, but I am also a writer, best friend, total book worm and so much more. I enjoy breaking the stereotype of SAHM. I am not the woman who sacrifices her desires by giving all of herself to appease her family's needs. By making a conscious effort to be more than “Mom" and “Wife" I will maintain my individuality. I will hold onto my dreams as hard as I hold onto my son. I will nurture my aspirations, while loving my child. By staying true to myself it makes me a better mother and wife.
6. Being A Stay-At-Home Mother Is Not Considered A Career --But It's Work
Before I was a mom I used to sympathize for women who were SAHMs. I pictured a sobbing mother, filthy house, and screaming kids. When a woman told me she stayed home with her children I would tilt my head in a sympathetic way and say, “Well that is the toughest job there is."
SAHM isn't a job or a career, but it is work. Some days my life is that chaotic image, but most days I'm extremely happy with my new duties. When I tell people I am a SAHM I hear the regurgitated cliché of “well that is a tough job!" but I don't need validation. I am fully aware that I'm not monetarily compensated for all of the work that I do, but I don't feel cheated. Getting to be at home with my son is a luxury, there are many families out there that don't have that option. I don't take this time for granted because I know I will have to go back to work a “real" job some day. This time I am given with my son is a privilege and a gift that comes with a massive amount of responsibility.
Rachel McKee is an aspiring author, avid reader, tea junkie, and day dreamer. Follow her blog at https://illuminatedliteration.wordpress.com/ for more personal essays and book reviews.
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