Suit Up, and Drink Your Apple Juice
There is no help. Only a constant sense of godawful loneliness, frustration and the exhaustion that those emotions bring.
Truthfully, I hardly thought of myself as someone who gets lonely. Perhaps a lack of self-dignity with a hefty dose of loneliness is a more accurate description of what this feels like.
Telling someone that I’m a stay-at-home parent is met with eye-rolling and the same feeling of reservation or resentment you the reader may have just had for me. “It’s not a real job” (no, it is not a real career, for me anyway — I didn’t go to school for a career in childcare nor do I intend to be a homemaker for the rest of my life — but, it IS a job) is the most common reservation most others have for me.
“You have it SO easy” is another.
To those people I must confess, I didn’t brush my teeth until my husband got home from work today. My “not real” easy job was just that demanding.
To be fair, there are tons of jobs out there that are entirely more difficult than being a stay-at-home parent. Roughnecks, waitresses, firemen . . no doubt their jobs are way harder than mine. But they garner more respect than I do.
Disclaimer: I’m by no means a trophy wife. I’m not glamorous, but I’m not lazy either. I breastfeed and make organic baby food; I dance and sing and read and play with my son because I’m his parent and that’s what I do. I stay at home because it’s what’s best for my son, and because my salary would basically JUST pay for his daycare.
Stay-at-home parents receive little respect from anyone in society EXCEPT for those familiar with what it takes to be a stay-at-home parent.
I’m in the playroom, hair unbrushed, still in my pajamas, playing the same simple game I’ve been playing with my 8-month-old for the last 45 minutes. Where is my mind…!?!?? I have to pee soo badly right now and make a phone call before the office closes. F****ck. In my mind he’s no longer my adorable baby boy, but more like a filthy dog with separation anxiety obsessed with a stupid game of fetch.
My snot-nosed son starts crying for more of my attention. He’s teething. There is laundry piled everywhere and a sink full of dirty dishes. It’s 4 o’clock.
But that’s a bad day. On a a good day I might check my voicemail and email, pay all the bills, knock out five loads of laundry, clean all of those dishes plus the bathroom while he’s taking a nap. But also, now my story just got mundane and you lost some respect for me — .
And therein lies my point. Stay at home parents’ lives are 100 percent mundane. And we get snubbed for it. It double sucks.
So a good day for me is a day my son plays solo or naps long enough for me to accomplish some household chores and not appear to be a complete schlub. A terrible day? Well, those typically consist of eight consecutive hours of crying in my earholes (fantastically awesome for one’s psyche by the way) and all of the shit, piss, snot, vomit, spit and drool my baby can dish out. A great day would mean, well, by gosh golly I just don’t know… some yoga? a run? a real meal instead of the apple juice and tortilla chips I inhaled while my son was preoccupied? Makeup and REAL clothes? DOING MY HAIR? SOCIAL MEDIA?!? (Or any intelligent adult conversation, really).
Shit damn. I nearly forgot what all of that was like. Sure, yes, I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. I also chose to have my son. I’m pulling no punches; I’ve made my choices and I have to deal with what my life is. But I think its time society did the same.
Right before I quit my job, a board member at my institution told me “I could never stay at home, I’d just have to get back to my real work”. And man, was I ever so butt-hurt about that statement. But now it takes on all new meaning. Because actually, it takes a very strong will and mind to be a stay-at-home parent, make so many unacknowledged sacrifices, and receive no respect for it. Not everyone can do it. And you’re more than welcome son.