Being a stay-at-home mom is a wonderful experience, but it does not come without its tradeoffs. For example, I was at a garage sale yesterday picking out some books from a newly retired teacher when she asked if I was also a teacher. I responded without even thinking, “Oh no, I’m just a stay-at-home mom.” Just a stay-at-home mom… My mother, who was there with me, quickly corrected my statement and said that I AM a stay-at-home mom. Why would I belittle my role as a stay-at-home parent? I am very proud to stay home with my son, and it is not like it’s a cake walk. That is, unless your cake walk also includes the following: chasing a tiny, squirrelly guy out of danger; conquering mountains of laundry; cleaning up spills; wiping sweet potato out of not only Little Man’s hair, but my own; running household errands (banking, grocery shopping, diaper runs, going to Target for pretty much anything…); waking up at all hours of the night; and whatever else falls into my lap on any given day.
I think there is a lot to be said about being a stay-at-home mom and having it be a thankless job. To me, the benefits of staying home with my son far outweigh the cons; however, the benefits are not instant like they are with most jobs. As a millennial, the lack of recognition can be very difficult to handle, and I end up feeling underappreciated. I used to work in a bank where I had colleagues that thought I was pretty awesome, and I reciprocated the sentiment. If I helped a customer or a colleague, you bet I got a ‘thank you,’ a smile, and the satisfaction of knowing I did my job correctly. With staying home with Little Man, operations are not as clear-cut. There are no instructions on how to parent the right way (even though we own The Baby Owner’s Manual). For months at a time, we played a drawn-out guessing game of “What does the baby need???” and “When will I actually get to sleep today?”
Though it’s not as clear cut or glamorous as other jobs can be (and by glamorous, I mean wearing a necklace not made of silicone), I would not choose another path for myself. I remember when Little Man was four months old and he rolled over for the first time. It had been a long day already and it was only 10:00AM. I left the living room for a minute to take the trash out and when I returned I saw a stunned little boy who magically found himself on his belly. In true mom fashion, I scooped him up and made sure he was alright while simultaneously crying in pride of the joy I (almost) witnessed.
It is those little moments (months and months later) that make my job so fulfilling and more than just a job. I AM a mom who stays home and works tirelessly for my family and am honored with experiencing many firsts (or at least seconds). No, I don’t bring home an income, build a 401(K), or pad my stock portfolio, but I do get the opportunity to watch Little Man morph from a tiny peanut-head alien, to a baby, and to a toddler. So thank you to those who remind stay-at-home moms that it is a worthwhile vocation and that it is just as important as suiting up and going into an office every day.