I am lucky. I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my children and for us to have a very nice life on just Scot's salary. The budget could be looser, certainly, but everyone has those problems. I made the choice to stay home because we could afford it and because I wanted to be there for my kids when they were infants. Infancy with Liam turned into 6 years at home full time.
I don't regret this. I think it was the right choice for our family. I also don't look down on families in which both parents work - whether by choice or necessity. I firmly believe that what is right for my family is only right for my family. I also understand that there are lots of women out there who work full time that would love nothing more than to be in my shoes.
But, dude, it is HARD.
I love my kids like crazy. Like every other parent around, I would do anything for them. But just because I love them does not mean that I like them 100% of the time. I am tired of people saying that stay at home parenting isn't work or that it's the most fabulous, wonderful, incredible, fulfilling thing in the world. How could I possibly not love spending every waking moment with my kids?
I don't love that I never get a day off. No sick time. No vacation. No mental health days. I envy parents who get to go to work and be adults for 8 hours out of the day without a million interruptions. They have the luxury of peeing in private! *gasp* I have fantasies about leaving my family behind for a weekend and just going away by myself.
I don't love that I almost never get a moment's peace. There is always someone who needs something from me. I can't even really relax when the kids are in bed because if they wake up, I'm back on duty. I live and die by the noises on the baby monitor.
Related to that, I don't love that I can never leave work at work. My home is my work and it's always staring me in the face. There's always another room that needs to be cleaned. There's always another chore that needs to be done. There's always more leaves that need to be raked or more bills that need to be paid or more laundry that needs to be folded. I can never escape it. What's worse is that if I do manage to finish it all, the kids immediately undo what I've done and I have to start over.
I don't love how little patience I have. I want to be more patient with my children but when Jamie is squealing like a deranged dolphin and Liam is informing me of some obscure Star Wars fact for the eleventy billionth time all while I'm trying to make a meal I just want to scream at them. Sadly, I often do.
I don't love how little time I have to devote to anything for me. I don't scrapbook anymore. I don't do card making anymore. I can't find the time for doctor's appointments for myself or getting new glasses or getting back to Weight Watchers (hello, 40 pounds that won't go away). There is no money and especially no time for me to do these things. I can't even keep up with my grooming habits - my eyebrows are OUT OF CONTROL.
Yesterday, for the first time in well over a week, I had everyone out of the house at the same time and a two and a half hour window in which to do something. I managed to scrub my kitchen clean and dismantle the toy tornado in the family room before I had to go pick up Liam at the bus stop. It took me a mere 90 minutes to accomplish something that would have taken me at least 3 hours with the children around.
I don't love that.
There are great things about being home, too. I got to see all the firsts - first rolling over, first smile, first crawl, first steps, first words - all of that. I'm sure Scot was disappointed to miss some of those things. I wouldn't trade those moments at all, but that doesn't mean they always make up for all the crap I deal with.
What bothers me most is that so many women refuse to acknowledge that it can be like this. Everyone wants me to say "oh it's just so wonderful to be with them and know them this way!" and yes, that is a good thing, but to never admit to a bad day is ludicrous. Everybody still buys into the perfect 50's era homemaker with her perfect outfits and perfect house and perfect pearls and if you admit that you fall down on the job when it comes to those kinds of expectations, you kind of get the stink eye.
I wish I could be more like my neighbors. They have consistently clean houses and nicely manicured lawns and yards. I have neither of those things. I don't know how they do it. I wish I could. Outwardly I blame it on the fact that their children are older than mine by a good bit but inwardly I call myself lazy.
I know there are women that manage to do it all - have a clean house, cook meals on a regular basis, work full time, and make time for their husbands. I wish I knew their secrets. I wish I could live up to their example. In the same breath I wish I could let myself off that hook. I wish all women would give themselves a break from the crazy high expectations we have for ourselves. I wish we wouldn't assume that we have to be responsible for everything. Unfortunately, many of us do and I am, sadly, among them.
Those of you out there that work full time and possibly envy those of us who stay home - just know that from the other side, your life looks just as appealing to me as mine does to you.