At the time Numbers 1 through 4 were in school full time, Number 5 was four years old, Number 6 was three years old, and Number 7 was not quite two.
So I was home with Numbers 5, 6, and 7 all day long. We were beginning the very steep descent into serious financial trouble, and since child care for the younger three would have cost more than any job I would have found, I was about a year-and-a-half into the blog, and trying to establish that as a business. I had also started a very small business refinishing furniture and was making a little bit of money doing that. And then in the afternoons I was working (very) part time as a swim coach.
While I considered myself a SAHM, I guess technically I was also a work-at-home mom.
That post ended up being published by Scary Mommy, and holy shit did the moms who work outside the home get pissed off when they read what I had to say.
Like really pissed.
That was when I learned to NEVER read comments on the posts I had published on Scary Mommy.
I also learned that some posts that get published on Scary Mommy, especially controversial ones, get republished. Over and over. And the SAHM Challenge post was recently republished, and I pissed of a whole new fresh crop of working moms.
If you knew me then and if you know me now, you’d know I was not trying to get into a who-has-it-harder war.
That was never my intent.
Perhaps that’s how it came across, but that wasn’t the point I was trying to make.
The point I was trying to get across was that being a stay-at-home mom is no joke.
And neither is being a work-at-home mom.
In fact, I’d say that when you are a full-time SAHM with children who are not yet in school, children under the age of five, especially when you do not have the means to pay for help, when you cannot really enroll your children in many (or any) programs to give yourself any kind of break during the day, when you have little contact with other adults, when you feel like you can never let your guard down, when you are struggling with balancing getting stuff done at home with spending time with your kids and doing all sorts of Pinteresty crafty shit (because that’s what so many SAHMs tell themselves they are supposed to do), when you are sure your husband is judging you when he gets home every day because you haven’t managed to maintain order in the house but you swear to God you’ve been going non-stop all day long, well…
I’d say there is no job more tiring, more draining, more stressful and more anger inducing than being a stay-at-home mom.
And if you are a work-at-home mom, it’s even a little bit worse.
Because if you are a work-at-home mom with young children at home, it can be next to impossible to get anything done, let alone actual work.
Yes, there are many, many positive aspects to being a SAHM.
There are many things that moms who work outside the home miss out on. And what they have to juggle in order to make things work, the sacrifices they have to make, the events at school they miss, well, that totally sucks.
I look back to my teaching days before I had kids and I think to myself, I have no idea how teachers who are parents do it.
I don’t think I could do it.
But I also know many moms who have said they can’t do the stay-at-home mom thing.
Because like I said, it’s no walk in the park. It’s no picnic.
I’ve been through a lot. My three-year-old brother died when I was sixteen. I’ve had multiple miscarriages. I’ve been through a divorce. I’ve given birth five times, once without any drugs. I’ve been in a physically abusive relationship, gotten three tattoos and a bunch of piercings, I’ve trained for and run five marathons, filed for bankruptcy, overdosed on drugs and been hospitalized for depression multiple times.
I’ve experienced plenty of physical and emotional pain on varying levels.
And I can still say that while it’s definitely the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, being a full-time stay-at-home mom to kids who are little, who aren’t in school yet, who are with you constantly, is also the hardest fucking thing I’ve ever done.
This past summer when I was home with all them all summer?
It almost broke me.
Fast forward three years and one month from when I first wrote that post.
It’s September 2016, and our financial situation is much better. Not-Your-Average-Mom.com is growing. I am now the head developmental coach of the swim team, and I’m working about 20 hours a week coaching.
So I am busy working.
And now I’d describe myself as a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom, entrepreneur and coach.
But now, all the kids are now in school all day long.
I have from about 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. free every weekday (except for Mondays when Number 7 has a short day at kindergarten and gets home at 1:00).
So pretty much every day I have six kid-free hours.
And being a stay-at-home mom when your kids are in school?
It’s a lot different than when they are home all day with you.
It’s kind of awesome, honestly.
Like REALLY AWESOME.
I’m not sitting around all day watching TV. I’m not shopping or getting my nails done or drinking mimosas with all of my other stay-at-home mom friends.
But I have time to breathe.
I have quiet time.
I have time to think.
I can eat a meal without being interrupted.
I can work out without being interrupted.
I can clean up the kitchen and three hours later it’s still clean.
I can go grocery shopping without any kids trying to grab shit off the shelves and without having to buckle and unbuckle one or two or three kids into and out of their car seats multiple times.
I can listen to whatever station I want to on the radio without protesting from anyone.
I can run a pretty decent house now that all the kids are out of the house.
Yes, there is still plenty of stress. The after school logistics are unbelievable.
Being a parent is still a challenge. It always will be.
The kids still push my buttons and push each other’s buttons and test the limits and do shit that really pisses me off.
But it’s not constant anymore. During the school days, there is relief.
And now if a mom who has to work outside the house full-time said that she had it harder than a stay-at-home mom whose kids are all in school all day long?
Well, yes. I’d totally agree. 100%.
There is no contest. Work-at-home moms (who work because they have to and not because they want to) get the short end of the stick.
The same goes for my husband. He is definitely taking one for the team right now.
His days are harder than mine. He doesn’t have the freedom and flexibility that I have. He misses out on things the kids are doing. He has to leave the house before 6 a.m. every morning.
Now that I have some free time I’m trying to do things for him that I just couldn’t manage to do when all the kids were home all day.
I try to pack him a nice lunch in the morning before he leaves. I try to make sure dinner is ready for the kids so when I’m coaching and he picks them up after practice he doesn’t have to worry about making anything and he can just give them whatever I’ve prepared for that night. I’m able to finish whatever work I need to do during the day so I am more available to him at night. When he comes home, there is some semblance of order when he walks in the door rather than the house being a complete and total shit hole.
So I think I’ve been able to create a calmer environment for everyone to come home to at the end of the day.
Is my life a total cake walk?
I’m still working my ass off.
But it’s much different than it was just a couple months ago.
It’s a little less stressful.
So anyone with young kids at home who tells you that being stay at home mom is the hardest thing they’ve ever done?
I’d wholeheartedly concur.
But those of us whose kids are now school age?
Well, if we are fortunate enough to be home when the kids are in school, I’m going to be the first to admit that there’s no comparison.
We are are very lucky.
And when I think about what life was like in August compared to what it’s like now?
Well, I’ve really got nothing to complain about.
Because being a stay-at-home mom when your kids are in school totally doesn’t suck.