Today was one of “those days.” I could blame it on my monthly cycle, a negative comment made to me by a stranger, being nearly out of almost every food my kids will eat without complaining – and a very eventful trip to the grocery store, a nap that was missed by a very tired certain someone, or other reasons that really do not matter.
There was no *big* reason I should have felt so down… but I did.
I skyped my mom after putting on a show for the kids, but was still nervous about them overhearing me so I typed to her: “I’m tired of being a stay at home mom.” I had said it (well, wrote it). And tears began to stream down my face as I acknowledged my own words.
Me, the mom who has been home for nearly 5 years and never thought of getting a job… me, the mom who has considered homeschooling… me, the mom who writes a blog about parenting? Yes, I was just plain sick and tired about being a stay at home mom.
I was tired of kids jumping on me, asking for snacks, fighting with each other, playing in the huge pile of (previously sorted) laundry, and begging for ice creams. I was sick of feeling like I could not take a shower in peace, remembering that I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in half a decade, or that I never had a co-worker to share some casual conversation – someone who was just right there instead of a friend I had to call or visit along with the troops (who probably had their own mama issues to deal with).
All day. Every day.
It is not that I am not grateful for the opportunity to take care of my family, I am. It is not that I do not have ways to turn my “bad” days around, I do. It is not even that I expect myself to be perfect, I don’t. I just had some big feelings and I needed to feel them.
I recently talked about my greatest lesson in motherhood being how my outer life is a reflection of my inner life. I really believe it. The reason everything was looking so difficult was not because today was any different than any other day, but because I was treading really murky waters on the inside.
I knew nothing I had experienced was that big of a deal… it was really just me.
My mom (thankfully) said everything I needed to hear. She told me it was totally normal to feel this way and that I had a right to have these feelings.
She said being a mom was hard work, and that every mom deserves a break. Often.
She said I do not have to feel guilty about wanting something for myself and I did not have to question myself for wanting a change, even if I knew one was not immediately possible.
She said nothing would make it all completely better – that being a mother would always be complicated and emotional no matter your situation, work or otherwise – but that taking baby steps to help yourself and find relief could really help in the long run.
That some days motherhood is just not easy. Some days you had to take it moment by moment.
She reminded me of the voice deep down that has often told me…
I do not want to go through my life wishing it was something different, wondering if I should have gone down a different path, second guessing my intuition or feeling guilty for experiencing my own emotions. I want to embrace the challenges, struggle with them, learn from them, grow from them, and move on as a stronger person… ready to accept more big feelings as they come.
Take a break when I need it, slow down when I need to.
I want to live my one wild and precious life with a full and open heart, vulnerable to my own feelings and aware of my own self talk… willing to take chances for what I believe… brave enough to make changes when I know I should… passionate enough to keep going even when the road gets rough… compassionate enough to love myself even when I am having a hard time.
Because it is my life, and no one else is going to live it except for me. Ups and downs included. Big feelings are just part of the journey, and I do not need to hide from them or feel guilty about them.
Allowing myself to feel them and work through the feelings I have – whatever they are – is accepting myself for me, so I can accept everyone else around me as well. It all comes down to love. Loving myself, loving my children, loving everyone around me, loving my life – even the hard bits.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
~ Mary Oliver
This post is part of the Growing from Motherhood series.
Oh Chelsea!! You said everything I try so hard to help my clients to understand. Feelings are yours- not meant to be judged, not meant to be criticized, and not meant to create torment. However- I strongly believe that feelings are there for a reason. Sometimes, these moments are meant to help us see that something might be missing. I am impressed and amazed that you have been able to be at home for 5 years. 5 years!! I lasted 18 months and there came a moment when I was ready (and my son was ready) to try something new. I went to the extreme of a full time job (plus I kept my part-time job) but there are so many other options. Join a club (not about parenting), volunteer somewhere that doesn’t involve children, or just get out there and meet some new people who can be a source of support. Listen to your mother!! Hang in there! You have no idea how amazing and inspiring you are!
Thanks Callie 🙂 I don’t think I am going to go back to work… but I think I am just remembering that nothing is easy. I love being a stay-at-home mom for the most part, it is just isolating and frustrating. But as with anything, there will be tests!!! Sometimes we just need to let ourselves go through the emotions, I think – and we come out with new perspective and feel refreshed again! Thanks for commenting, Callie!
Oh my goodness…I wish we could be friends, for we could cry on each others shoulders. As a stay at home mom for the past almost 7 years (and one who homeschools) I can attest that it is definitely not easy. I have wanted to give up several times over the years. I think it is normal to have ups and downs (as with any career choice). As long as the ups out weigh the downs you have made the right choice. All the best to you! If you ever need a virtual shoulder to cry on I am your girl 😉
Thanks Kim – just checked out your blog and will love to follow along 🙂 YES I agree that we all have ups and downs… and sometimes almost giving up reminds us why we made the choice in the first place. I’m a believer in all options having pros and cons… so I know I *could* be happy whether I stayed at home or went to work – so it’s just a matter of living and learning, and re-evaluating when necessary. Phew. I’m sure things will be looking up in a day or two.
I can relate to this cross-road Chelsea. I’m so very glad your Mum is there to support and encourage you. Treasure that. Everyday.
Thanks Kelly yes I am so so thankful to still have my mom around… even if she does live across the world and I only see her once every two years! Mom’s advice is priceless. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate it.
We were in a very similar place yesterday. I think I could have written this post — almost word for word. (Well, not word for word, but you get the gist).
You got me thinking, is there a way to virtually “share” an “office” with another at-home mom? Hmmm…
If we can figure it out, I’ll be your co-worker!
Great idea about “sharing an office”!!! Would have to consider how that could work! 🙂
Sounds like you usually have things going along pretty well, and are self-aware. It is pretty normal to have a day every now and then when you feel down about your lot. And how wonderful to have someone you can talk to about it, and who tells you what you need to hear. Sounds like you and your mum have a pretty great relationship to be able to do that 🙂
This post really helped me to acknowledge my own feelings around this too Chelsea…it really is a hard job and I do so miss the chatter and feedback of co-workers! So glad you allowed your feelings to surface and had your Mum there to offer support and very wise words x
Jackie@My Little Bookcase
What a wonderful post to read.
I love being a stay at home mum. I love that I am able to stay at home with my kids, but it is a tiring job.
I joked the other day that if I went back to teaching I would actually receive a daily lunch break and allocated planning time.
It’s not really what I want to do at all, but having those feelings, as you said, helps you to assess your life, your values and your decisions.
Bek @ Just For Daisy
So nice to read this post AND the comments below it… and see that outside of the mummy wars we’re all in it together!
Thanks for another open and honest post that I can relate to Chelsea! 🙂 Really love reading your blog… stay strong mumma xx You’re doing a fabulous job! x
Thanks for this. It’s nice to read that someone else has the same feelings that I go through. I love being a SAHM. But somedays I really struggle, and I can’t chuck a “mental health” day because my kids are there, 24/7. Those days, I’ve learnt to take some short cuts. To ease up on myself to be the “mother that I want to be” and instead be the “mother that does just enough to cover the basics” for that day, and start again tomorrow.
I’ve learnt to go with the flow and I have a huge do not sweat it list.
Thanks for an honest and thoughtfully written post Chelsea. 🙂
Elise @ Creative Play Central
What a blessing to have your mum share such pearls of wisdom. Thank you for sharing such an honest post.
Beautifully said! I worked for seven years before having my daughter and staying home full time. For some reason all I envisioned was a home that was always filled with the smell of baking cookies and lots of fun trips to the park and zoo. I couldn’t quite figure out exactly what stay at home moms did all day that took up their time other than playing with their kids. I was ready to be done after about a year. My daughter was more amazing than I ever dreamed she could be, but I was exhausted! My mom was such a cheerleader through it all, and now my “baby girl” is 14 and such a huge blessing to me. My youngest two are 6 and 8 and I treasure those kisses and grubby hugs so much as I know they are not going to be around forever! Staying home was hard at first, but I was thankful that I did. I keep thinking that these little people are going to go out and make their mark on the world and I get the privledge of shaping their minds and hearts for such a short time. You sound like a great mom. Thanks for all you do to inspire the rest of us to use our time wisely with our kids.
Thanks Jen for the lovely comment and perspective 🙂
Ness @ One Perfect Day
I’ve done every scenario possible – stay at home mum, part time work, almost full time work, now stay at home mum who works from home. Each one has it’s own difficulties and rewards. Staying home is exactly where I want to be, but as you so eloquently described, it can really test your sanity! You are doing an amazing job Chelsea and you are also inspiring so many others along the way.
I think we all have those days where the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. I was able to stay home with my little one for 14 months and i totally agree that being a sahm can test your sanity (being woken up 5-10 times each night for more than a year will do the rest) but even though i like being back at work part time it comes with other downsides – feelings of guilt when you hand over your child with a cough and runny nose thinking “well, he doesn’t have a fever yet and you can’t stay home every day because he has one freaking cold after the other” on the one hand and “a sick child really belongs with his mummy, will he be okay?”on the other hand. Feelings of doubt on some days whether it would have been better to somehow stay home with him longer… feelings of pain when seperation anxieties hit… i totally agree with everything that has been said above and thank you for sharing another great and honest post! Just wanted to say that we all have those days – and it helps to know that we’re not alone!
Thank you for writing such a personal and relatable post Chelsea.
Amanda @ Expat Life with a Double Buggy
Wow Chelsea – thank you for sharing this. I’d be surprised if there’s one SAHM that could say they’ve never felt this way. It is a tough job. Luckily there are normally so many pros to the job it’s easier to pick yourself up and get going again once you hit a dip than in the workplace…..
Chelsea Lee Smith
Yes Amanda so true. It is such a blessing. Each day is different, each day there are new challenges, but it’s so rewarding being able to spend so much time with your kids, for sure.