Bottom line: I love being a stay-at-home mom. I do "work" during the day while the kids are at school- various things that make money and save us money, but essentially I'm a stay-at-home mom. I love being with my kids, watching them grow and develop and being an integral part of their lives.
There are some things, though, that I did not sign on for as a stay-at-home mom (unfortunately, puke, piss and crap are things we do sign on for when becoming a stay at home mom- the kids' stuff, that is). No stay-at-home mom signs on for these things, but many of them just end up happening anyway. Well, not anymore. I'm here to lay it all out on the line, let people know that even though we are stay-at-home moms, there are things that were not included in this hidden contract that we signed... Don't go trying to add them now!
- Becoming a Maid. We signed on to become a housekeeper, yes, but not a maid. In my opinion, there's a huge difference. A housekeeper cleans the house, picks up general mess, gets down in the dirty every now and then with scrubbing and cleaning like hell, etc. A maid picks up after every person in the house and does what you tell them to without asking questions. I'm no maid, thank you. Shoes left in the middle of the floor will be vacuumed around until you can get home from work/school to pick them up from the middle of the floor. I do not throw dirty socks into the laundry unless they are my own. Any clothes that did not make it into the clothes basket before laundry day will not get washed. It's everyone's responsibility in this house to pick up after themselves and make sure what they need done is easily accessible for me. I will cover the main stuff in the house, but do not offer personalized service. Sorry, if you want that, hire a maid or personal assistant.
- Becoming Martha Stewart. I'll admit now, there are times in my life when I do channel Martha Stewart; I'll bake some amazing cookies or cakes, experiment with dinner and prepare something out of the ordinary, or decide to finally organize a section of the house and clean the hell out of it as well. But do not expect these things on a regular basis. That's not what we stay at home moms do. We don't cart the kids off to school in the morning and start preparing duck confit with roasted red potatoes and wild mushrooms, with an amuse-bouche appetizer and poached pears in a shiraz reduction for dessert (y'all know I had to google that crap, right? Geez). Dinner is going to be quick, easy, and something everyone likes. So, if you aren't a fan of eating spaghetti, tacos, pizza or chicken and rice on a regular basis, then you are more than likely out of luck with the average stay-at-home mom.
- Giving Up All of Our Personal Time. Stay-at-home moms are just like every other mom out there- we need our personal time and space, too. Just because we signed on to stay at home with the little ones, or not work outside the home does not mean that we are this magical breed of mothers who enjoys giving up our free time for the family, or who doesn't need outside interactions with non-family members. We stay at home moms need friends too, and please let us choose them for ourselves. That takes me directly to #4...
- Playing Nicely with Other Moms. Yes, we are stay-at-home moms who have less interaction with the outside world on a daily basis than working moms do. Yes, we need time away from the family to do things we'd like to do, just as much as the next mom (if not more). This, however, does not mean that we are needy and will latch on to the first woman or mother that we come into contact with outside the home. This includes wives of Hubby's friends, other moms at the weekly play group we take our kids to so they get outside interaction with other kids their age, or members of the PTO. When (or if) we find a mom-friend that fits well into our lives and personalities, then we will turn off the bitch switch and become friends. But it will be our choice to do so, and our choice alone.
- Giving Up on Our Hopes and Dreams. Many stay-at-home moms become stay-at-home moms because it's what we always dreamed about- growing up, getting married, having children and focusing on the family and kids. Some of us lucked into it, and some of us, because of the current state of the economy, can't afford to work outside the home. For whatever reason, especially for those who lucked into it or have to make the decision because daycare is too expensive, just because we are home with the kids does not mean we do plan on bridging the gap between mom and woman at some point. Whether we want to go back to college and get our degree, or start our own business, or eventually go back to a career we left behind, we have the right to do so. Don't think that because we are stay-at-home moms that that's all we aspire to be. Even if it's the only dream we've ever had, we aspire to be the best stay at home mom we can be.
For those who have happened upon this post because you are struggling with the decision of whether or not to become a stay-at-home mom, the things above are things you don't have to settle for, or sign away on the dotted line. When becoming a stay at home mom, I will tell you that you do sign on to clean up various bodily secretions from your children, cooking, cleaning, playing referee (if you have more than one kid), laundry, being a chauffeur, sleep deprivation, moments of craziness, the household shopping, sometimes the budgeting, playing doctor, teacher, psychologist and general overall CEO of the home. But you are your own boss (sometimes answering to the Hubby, but we only let them think they are in charge), get loads of free time to pursue hobbies and dreams if your kids are in school, get to know what's happening in your kids' lives on a daily basis, and get to help build strong, responsible, independent children. It's totally worth signing on the dotted line, if you ask me.