When I became a Stay At Home Mom, I quickly learned that most people have absolutely no idea what it really means to be a Stay At Home Mom. I don’t mean that they are missing something about how hard it is.
Well, some are. A lot are…
Some don’t have much respect for it either, which is another topic of conversation altogether.
What I really mean, though, is that the essence of a Stay At Home Mom – what it is really and truly like day in and day out, what it is reduced to – is just never truly clarified for you before you become one. I’m talking about the feelings of it, I’m talking about the actions that become commonplace – that soon define you. Sine qua non SAHM.
Above all, there are six things no one ever told me about becoming a Stay At Home Mom. Things that – above all the hiding in the closet to get a break, and having people assume you are a complete moron because you don’t have a high-powered career – I just wish I had known in advance. So I could have mentally prepared myself for them, you know?
Lucky for all of you, I’m going to do what no one did for me and give you that head’s up.
1. Fucking. Laundry. Never. Ends.
In the last two weeks, I have actually kept a count of how much dirty laundry our household produces. Right now – Friday of the second week – I have done twenty-four loads of laundry.
Twenty-four fucking loads of laundry.
Twenty-four. Fucking. Loads. OF LAUNDRY.
And I have six more of miscellaneous things sitting there by the washer, waiting for their turn.
The thing about being a Stay At Home Mom is that you notice when things are a little dirtier than you’d like them to be. You look for things to keep you busy sometimes, too; and you spend more time reading articles in the news while you eat breakfast and pick oatmeal out of your hair. What I’m saying is you have more time to be a little bit more paranoid and neurotic about germs and stuff. So you wash the blankets more frequently. The stuffed animals all get cleaned after a cold.
When I was working, I didn’t even know that people washed stuffed animals. Now someone sneezes more than twice and everything is in the washer. Maybe I’m a hypochondriac, or have terrible OCD. Is the hand-washing disorder next for me?
But in all seriousness, when you are a Stay At Home Mom, you usually don’t do one big bout of laundry, you know like once a week. Laundry day and so forth. You just keep doing it as it comes up, so eventually it feels like it never ends. Ever.
Because it doesn’t.
2. The only way to keep things together is to run a tight ship.
I have recently realized that when people say you should let go and let others help; allow more sleepovers with the grandparents or let the babysitter take the reigns on homework once in a while … well, those people are full of shit.
A total recipe for disaster in your household is to let go of your status as Stay At Home Mom – slash – Prison Warden.
Recently, I let go of the reigns to try and get some more “me time” and all hell broke loose. It was like the state of nature in my home. The laundry wasn’t getting done every day. Meals were consistent of crap thrown together or through a drive thru. No one was following the rules – like brushing their teeth, washing their hands, doing their homework before TV.
And what happened? My kid fell while camping with the in-laws and got a mild concussion, then she got food poisoning, then she went to the dentist and came in with an unexpected cavity. And did I mention she admitted that all the times the babysitter had her doing her homework she was allowed to skip reading time? For years I have kept everything in our house in tip-top condition. Let go a little bit to have six hours a week to myself and everything goes to hell.
Now I don’t know how Working Moms keep everything together, having to rely on daycare, spouses, and family to help. I sometimes think that maybe they don’t have to because they aren’t in it all the time. But because Stay At Home Moms never get that 8 hour with society-time, running a tight ship and keeping shit under control is absolutely essential.
3. Absolutely nothing will ever be just yours.
At least once a week I wake to find that my daughter has helped herself to my expensive lipstick. Usually it’s smeared all over her face ala the makeup stylings of 1990s Courtney Love.
Almost always the lipstick is destroyed.
When you are a Stay At Home Mom, you don’t have a work place that you can hide your nice NARS lip gloss, or keep your adorable pink Martha Stewart calendar book from little hands drawing all over the inside of it.
And for this reason…
4. You will envy your Working Mom friends.
While I will probably never go back to work in an office, at a desk, again (hear that one, honey?), I envy my Working Mom friends. Big time.
They have that desk or that work locker, where they can keep their most prized and cherished possessions – to never be touched by anyone but themselves. Like lip gloss and hair barrettes. And Twix bars.
They have 10 minute breaks to sit in a break room and read. They have lunch hours. Sure, some of them use lunch hours to run errands or volunteer at their kids’ school. But some use it to sit down and be quiet.
They have quiet.
I’m not saying they have it better, or I have it better. I’m not saying anyone’s plight is worse, either. I’m just saying the grass is always greener, and in some instances my yard is dead as shit and my Working Moms, well their yards are lush and beautiful and glorious. And full of non-destroyed lipstick.
5. That whole thing about yoga pants and being unkempt is not just a joke.
I live in California, so often I see Stay At Home Moms out and about town looking very cute. I’m talking adorable tops. I’m talking expensive CK jeans. I’m talking sparkly TOMS.
Yesterday I wore regular pants for an hour and forty-five minutes. That was a bit much for me.
People joke about yoga pants or not wearing makeup, and you think it’s silly and – oh my friends are Stay At Home Moms but surely they don’t really look that unkempt all the time! They are just joshing me!
When you’re schlepping groceries in the house, juggling everybody’s shit because they are too lazy to carry it themselves, vacuuming, cooking a bagillion meals, scrubbing oatmeal out of your hair and fingerpaint off the kitchen floor … there just ain’t no time to be fancy.
6. The world outside your home will start to seem very odd, very soon.
It didn’t take long before I started to look at life before becoming a Stay At Home Mom as entirely bizarre. Some of the way my life was before didn’t even make sense.
I always hear my father and his retired friends talk about how they don’t know how they got anything done when they worked. The same goes for a Stay At Home Mom. How did all this laundry get done before? How were meals on the table every night? How did I have the time to actually do my hair, when I’m home all the time now and sloppy pony tail complete with dried oatmeal is my normal 30-second go-to? And why are all these people so dressed up anyway, it’s just the grocery store!
Moreover, you start to love it, and that is perhaps the weirdest feeling anyone could ever experience.
If I were to make a word cloud of all the words that best describe being a Stay At Home Mom, it would be the most confusing, fucked up word cloud ever – including phrases like ‘completely isolating’ and ‘euphoric chocolate hidden in the bathroom.’ But it would also include phrases like ‘greatest job in the world’ and ‘wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.’ I guess it’s like the old you have to experience it to understand what I mean.
At least now you’ve all been warned.