The SAHM Thing Would Never Work for Me
I’m not afraid to say that the stay-at-home mom thing wouldn’t work for me.
I didn’t really think it would; I’m just not that kind of person. To me, a stay-at-home parent has several priorities: the welfare of their children, their home, and creating a good life for them and their family. Of course that’s an oversimplification, but from my observations, those are the core priorities, at least from where I’m standing.
While I share these priorities to some extent, I’m not ashamed to say that they are far from the sum of my goals and aspirations.
My career matters a great deal to me; I’m an educator, having worked as a classroom teacher for the past several years, most of my many bounce-arounds with jobs have been in education or working with young people. But I have never felt settled in classroom teaching, although I like it in many ways, it is relatively comfortable for me and I want to find personal challenges elsewhere.
I am also a lifelong learner. Sure, we used to use that as a buzzword in teacher’s college to talk about students, but I truly enjoy being a student and will likely continue to take courses, more school, more professional development opportunities, all of that until I'm old and grey. I can’t help myself. I actually enjoy learning new things and this is a part of my identity that is central to my sense of personal satisfaction.
Creativity is another element of my personality and priorities that are so important to me. Writing is my main outlet and I can never really be without it. If I don’t have a paper, laptop, or notes on my phone, I’m writing stories and poems, personal essays, and rants in my head.
What I came to realize about two months into being a parent, was that I couldn’t just be a mom. It was making me crazy. My mental health was suffering and so were my relationships. I was on a steep decline in terms of my self-esteem and my sense of self-worth. I felt guilty and irritable all the time.
It occurred to me that I had been giving my daughter all my time and energy throughout the day, but there just wasn’t enough left over. My husband would ask what we had planned for the day and I would get irrationally angry – “what do you think we’ll be doing? feeding, diapers, playing, trying not to crawl back into bed and hide till you’re done work…” – and it was making me feel resentful of his productivity.
I felt like all I was this machine for feeding and changing and taking care of.
So I decided to go back to school early, keep doing my masters, enroll in a certificate program, make a little blog as an outlet, and try (as much as the pandemic would allow) to socialize with family and friends.
And you know what? I felt like a better mom. Because I was committing to bettering myself, I was letting that energy and commitment encourage me in the parenting side of who I was. I allowed myself to think about something besides my daughter (okay, for short stints, because I’m usually thinking about her, but that counts!).
I am by no means a pillar of independence and grace, and I’m so lucky to have my husband working from home so we can tag-team on baby care, but I honestly feel so much better. My dedication to elements of my life besides my baby has helped me to appreciate every second with her even more.