Becoming a SAHM: What I Wasn’t Prepared For

Becoming a SAHM: What I Wasn’t Prepared For

Leaving my career behind to raise my children was not an easy decision to make.  I’d spent my entire adult life working in the same industry, climbing as far up the ladder as I could.  After becoming a mom, I imagined how nice it would be to see all the firsts, and be the one taking care them all day.  All other factors aside, I thought the “job” of being a SAHM would be so much easier, and way more fun than dealing with disgruntled clients or a missed deadline.  It wasn’t until I became pregnant with our third child that the option became real.  We had a decision to make before this baby arrived.  My husband’s job was good, but childcare and summer camp is expensive. Multiplied times three, the cost was damn near a mortgage payment.  We had to consider it.

Along the path of transition into my new role, there were things I wasn’t expecting. Feelings and emotions, that I was not prepared for.

Where’s the warm, fuzzy feeling?

Once we made the decision that I was going to be a SAHM, I expected to feel happy and blissful, like I was on top of the world.  Instead, I felt anxious and overwhelmed.  I thought the moment I could be a SAHM, I would be packing my desk and running out the door.  But you see, I did not win the lottery or suddenly become rich.  This is real life.  I’m considering eliminating the one thing I know I’m good at doing, and my income.  The process of making the decision was slow and intentional. My husband and I had spreadsheets, ran all the financial scenarios, and had many long discussions.  For five months we did this because we wanted to make the decision that would be best for our family.  It wasn’t about what I wanted, it was about what would be best for the children and our family as a whole.  I never considered the social and personal impact this would have on me.  I had no SAHM friends to counsel me on the reality of being the primary caregiver.  I was blind to what was in store.

After the decision was made, I had to deal with the emotions of leaving my career.  I needed to work through the remainder of my pregnancy, so I chose not to say anything until it was time to resign.  This was hard to do, especially with the ladies that I was closest to in the office.   As I went on with my daily work, I would think, “this will be the last time I renew this client”, or “the last meeting I go to with this person”.  Looking back, these thoughts were the first signs of just how connected I was to my professional identity and the difficulties I would endure in this area.  I didn’t catch it.  If I’m being honest, even if I had caught it, I probably would blamed it on pregnancy hormones, and swept it under the rug.

The devil attacked and depression set in.

In the immediate days after the baby was born, things were exciting.  But, I knew it was coming, I could feel depression closing in.  At first, the feelings were minimal and I attributed it to lack of sleep and hormones.  The second week after the birth, he went back to work, and I was completely on my own.  I constantly compared myself to other moms.  If they could do it, why can’t I?  I was sad, and then I would be mad because I was sad.  Sounds crazy, but it’s what your mind does crazy things when you are depressed.  I beat myself up because I had three healthy children, a husband that provides, a house, etc.  How shameful of me to be sad.  I had no right.  The mom who lost a child has that right.  The woman who longs for a child has that right.  Not me.  As time went on, the depression gained a stronger foothold.  I felt alone, and it was all I could do to get through the day-to-day.  I didn’t feel like getting dressed and going out,  but I would force myself to for the sake of the kids.  I had no interest in seeing people; when I did, I would pretend everything was great.  In reality, I just wanted it to be bedtime so I could go to sleep.  I couldn’t keep up with the laundry or any of the chores.  It was all I could do to keep the home in a sanitary and livable status.  I felt sorry for my husband, who probably thought he was coming home to dinner on the table and a clean house, because that never happened.  I felt sorry for my kids because they probably thought they would have a mom that wanted to make crafts and go to the park to play, and that rarely happened.   How do all these “other moms” keep it all together without going batshit crazy like me?  Why was I the only one seemingly falling apart?  For the first time in my life, I felt like I was bad at my job.

I missed feeling like I accomplished something.

It’s hard to feel intellectual when the majority of your time is spent watching Disney channel or singing ABCs.  I missed feeling smart and important.  While being a parent is the most important role I’ll ever have, the gratification is not immediate.  No one pats you on the back and says “good job changing that diaper”.  The gratification comes later on for parents, when our children display good values and become productive members of society.  The shock of this new SAHM role was difficult for me to digest.  I believe that I had such a vivid picture in mind of what my life would be like; and, anything that didn’t fall in line with that picture was wrong.  I set the standards that I failed to meet.  I was my own worst enemy and it took me a long time to see that.

Humbling trials build strong walls.

I’ve been on the job for nearly two years now and I’m still married, and all of the kids are still alive and well (accomplishment #1 — patting myself on the back).  I’m learning to accept that I will never be that perfect SAHM that I pictured and compared myself to for so long.  She doesn’t exist.  I’m still an introvert, and my house is noticeably occupied by children (please call before you come over so I can shove things into closets and close all the bedroom doors).  I’m working a small amount from home, which gives me a sense of accomplishment on a professional level and has helped me feel a little like the old me.  By far, the best decision I have made was to grow in Christ.  I joined a small group at church, a church I’ve been attending since 2010.  It took me all these years, but I finally did it and I’m so glad I did.  These ladies gave me back the camaraderie and friendships that I was missing.  The spiritual growth has helped me deal with life from a new perspective, and it’s looking a little better each day.

When I look back on where I was and where I am now, I believe I am a better person.  There is something about being humbled that gives you more compassion and understanding.  Before this experience, I only had the opinion of a person that worked 40 hours a week, and thought staying home with the kids would be a breeze.  I have now gained the perspective of a full-time mom, and had to fight the feelings of envy towards my husband because he gets 2 hours of quiet time during his hour-long commute each way.  I truly have been on both sides of the fence.  The grass isn’t really greener on either side.  The key is that you must include your needs into the decision-making process.  When you’re on an airplane, the attendant gives instructions for an emergency event.  They tell you to put on your oxygen mask first, then help others near you.  Momma, you can’t take care of others unless your taking care of yourself.

5 Things to Consider Before Working From Home

5 Things to Consider Before Working From Home

I always thought working from home would be awesome.  How nice it would be to work from the comfort of my home and still be there to get the kids off the bus.  No commute, no office politics, just comfy clothes and a laptop.

After the birth of my last child, I left my job to become a stay at home mom.   A short time and a few curve balls later, I went back into the workforce and found a job that I could do from home.  This meant I could still be with my kids and earn income.  My job was nearly thirty hours a week, 100% remote work, with no restrictions on the time of day I worked.  Seems fabulous, right? No doubt there are many great things about working from home.  Your family situation and season of life has a big impact on how fitting this type of work will be for you.  If your circumstances are not conducive, you’ll feel like the grass that seemed so much greener was just fertilized with BS.

Before you bust out the athleisure wardrobe and trade in your cubicle for a desk in the corner of your bedroom, consider these five things about working from home:

  1. Who will be home when you are working?  Unless you have a basement or other dedicated office space that is separate from your living space, this will be a very important question to factor into your decision.  I have 3 children ranging in age from 10 to 1.  When I first began working at home, my husband explained that “when Mommy is working, you need to pretend she’s not home, just like she was at the office”.  Yeah, folks, that just does not work.  I work on a laptop, but mainly in my bedroom or on the porch.  In either place, I can still hear what’s going on.  I can hear the crying over what’s for dinner, or arguing siblings.  If someone gets hurt or mad, there is no hesitation for them to find me.  Even if things are going smoothly, you will still require the ability to tune out the distraction of the family routine going on around you.  Consider the practicality that you will be able to work during the time you are expected or plan to do so.  Really think about what a day is like in your house, and when you would be able to have the time and space the work.
  2. Do not over commit yourself.  As I mentioned, I have 3 kids.  It’s summertime right now, so all three are home with me.  During school, I have about a 6 hour window of time in between drop off and pick up/bus.  I need to work 30 hours per week.  If I had absolutely nothing else to do, I could work 6 hours a day, 5 days a week and have a weekend off with my family.  But that obviously is not the case.  I have a toddler to tend to, and a home to run.  It’s always looming over me that I need to hurry up and get dinner cooked or the kids in bed, so I can get my hours in.  Always. Looming.  I end up working 7 days a week and it’s pretty miserable.  If working from home is a new venture for you, take it slow.  Start with a few hours a week and see where it fits in your schedule.  If you take on too much you may find that you are overloaded and will eventually experience burnout.
  3. Be patient with your family.  They really don’t know what it is like to work and live in the same place, unless of course, they do it too.  If you plan on staggering your work in between your spouse’s schedule, this will have a significant impact on him or her.  Most of the time, I am able to work right after my husband gets home from work, and late at night after everyone is in bed.  I usually have to work on Saturday and Sunday just to pick up the missing hours.  Guess who is tending the kids while I’m working?  He works all day, then has Daddy duty during dinner and bath time.  I’ve worked all day taking care of the children and house, and then I have to work in the evening.  This kind of schedule leaves little time for relaxing or quality time.  Before you make the leap, determine how much and when you will work, and then ask have a discussion with your spouse or other family members to determine if it will have a negative impact on the family routine.
  4. Delegate housework or hire domestic help if you can afford it.  Depending on your workload, you may find it hard to keep up with your house.  For me, this was the thing that bothered me the most.  Maybe I am just terrible at being a stay at home mom, but I cannot seem to find the time or energy to get everything done.  Since we depend on my income, I tend to put my work before the laundry or whatever else needs to be done.  A messy home is very frustrating, and it’s hard to relax when you look around and see all these things that need to be done.  I began to get angry because I felt like the assumption was since I am home all the time, I can take care of all the housework.  Try to delegate some (or most) of that housework to children who are old enough to help.  They will complain (mine did) but they can do far more than we give them credit for.  Another option is to hire domestic help, if you are able to afford it.  It will lighten your load and free up your time for getting your work done.
  5. Make sure you love what you do.  Working from home takes discipline.  There will be days you just don’t feel up to working.  You need more willpower to forge through those days than an office employee.  You probably wouldn’t call your boss and say “I just don’t feel like coming in today”.  When you work from home, you may not be held accountable by a boss, but skipping a day usually just means deferring the work to the next day.  To help keep you on track, look for jobs that you enjoy.  Something you are good at doing, or that you are passionate about.  If you feel that your work is helping or contributing to something, you will find it easier to remain focused and on task.  On the other hand, if you are unhappy with what you are doing, it will be harder to focus and it will likely reflect in your work.   You may even find that you give up all together if the work is not satisfying.  When you enjoy what you are doing, you become good at it, and that usually leads to recognition from your client or boss.  We all need a pat on the back from time to time, but those are harder to come by when you are not present in the office.  Choose a job that you will be happy doing, with or without gratification.
About Momster Wife

About Momster Wife

Welcome to my blog!  I’m just another mom trying to raise decent human beings while maintaining my sanity and not driving my husband crazy.  I am married with three children, and presently a work at home mom.  My journey over the past three years is largely the inspiration behind this blog.

This is my eclectic collection of experiences along this journey through parenting, marriage, careers, loss of identity after becoming a SAHM, depression, challenges of working from home, and learning to press into faith as I grow in Christianity.

Author Anne Lamott once said, “You’re going to feel like hell if you wake up someday and you never wrote the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves of your heart: your stories, memories, visions and songs – your truth, your version of things – in your own voice. That’s really all you have to offer us, and that’s also why you were born.”