“My Hands Are Always Wet,” and Other Thoughts From Temporary Stay-at-Home Mom Land

Being a stay-at-home-mom, even a temporary one, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Honest thoughts about becoming a stay-at-home mom for a few months.

The transition from full-time, working (outside the home) mom to stay-at-home mom has not been a seamless one for this girl. As I’ve written before, I knew staying home would be a world away from going to work each day, but nothing could have prepared me for just how different it would be. Over the last three months, I’ve made some observations about my new position (Operations Manager, I like to call it), and life. Here’s what:

My hands are always wet.

Between chopping fruits and veggies, wiping up spills, and washing the 8000 parts that comprise my toddler’s sippy cups, you can count on my hands being pruny at any given point in the day.

The house runs more smoothly when someone is home during the day.

Prior to our move, and my temporary stint at home, we had a massive dirty laundry pile in our basement. While I can say our laundry is never “done” now, the pile is much less massive. There’s also no more “laundry couch” (where we used to throw all the clean laundry, but never fold and put away). We’re also eating better meals and almost zero take-out.

I love my toddler more than ever.

She also makes me question my sanity (on a daily basis). Having to complete seven psychological reports in a week, working with challenging co-workers, participating in multiple-hour, emotional IEP meetings…none of that holds a candle to (trying to) calm an irrational, overtired, two-year-old.

Savoring a happy moment with my tot monster.
Savoring a happy moment with my tot monster.

There are no words to describe how bothered I am by not bringing in a paycheck for my family.

Intellectually, I know I’m providing for my family by staying home, but I still feel an overwhelming need to bring home the bacon (not the kind from the grocery store). I’ve thought about looking for a part-time weekend job, to allay some of these feelings, but alas, at seven months pregnant, employers aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to hire me.

Since I can’t make money, I’ve been doing my best to save money, which coincidentally, is driving my husband crazy. Hey, unplugging the television, coffee pot, toaster, microwave, cell phone chargers, baby monitor, and fans save money, all right?

I very much enjoy sharing a muffin or donut with my toddler, in our PJs, in the morning.

When she’s not in the throes of a sunrise tantrum, it’s nice to be able to eat at a normal pace, and take in the morning, without rushing around to find an un-crusty, wrinkle-free pair of work pants.

I don’t know where I fit in.

Even though I’m temporarily at home, I don’t necessarily feel like a stay-at-home-mom; I also don’t feel like I’m a “working mom.”

By 4:00 p.m. each day, I begin eyeing the clock, waiting for my husband to get home.

After dinner, he takes on toddler duty—taking P for walks, playing with her in the backyard, etc., so I can regain any sanity that’s been lost during the day.

How long I actually have to wait until hubs gets home.
How long I actually have to wait until hubs gets home.

I’m scared to hang out with other moms.

Some days, I crave adult interaction and think about going to a mom meetup. Sadly, I’ve never mustered the courage. Maybe it’s because I don’t know where I fit in, maybe it’s the judge-y, bitterness I’ve witnessed on online “mom boards,” or maybe it’s my own insecurities (probably)..who knows? I guess the point is, I miss adult interaction during the day.

I have always known, and respected that being a stay-at-home-mom is a full-time job.

Now, I know it from experience. When I hear someone talk about how staying home with children is not a job, I feel an extra need to kick them in the crotch (the word crotch was used because I can’t recall ever hearing a woman saying being a SAHM isn’t a full-time job).

I feel guilty for wanting to work outside the home, but know it’s something I have to do, not just financially, but for me.

There are many women I’ve spoken with who are happy to stay home with their children, and want nothing more than to do so. I am just not one of those women. It’s not that I don’t enjoy time with my daughter, or “love her enough to stay home” (something I’ve heard), it’s that in order to be a happy, well-adjusted person, I need to contribute outside the home in some way. I know my daughter and son (it’s weird typing that, but T-minus 10 weeks…) will be better off with a working mom, because if I’m happy, there’s a greater chance they will be too.

The best of both worlds- my little helping me write reports a while back.
The best of both worlds- my little helping me write reports a while back.

I think one of the reasons enrolling my daughter in daycare (at six weeks of age) wasn’t terribly traumatic for me was because I didn’t have much time to bond with her after she was born (I was denied maternity leave and returned to work when she was 17 old). When I return to work in a few months (fingers crossed!), I think I may have trouble keeping it together at daycare drop-off.

Being a stay-at-home-mom, even a temporary one, is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done.

My days are punctuated by blissfully joyful moments, and soul-sucking, public tantrums. When I return to work, I know there will be days I yearn to be back home, so I’m taking the tantrums in stride, remembering to smile, and contemplating taking up meditation.

Maybe one day, I can be this zen about being a mom..
Maybe one day, I can be this zen about being a mom..

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13 thoughts on ““My Hands Are Always Wet,” and Other Thoughts From Temporary Stay-at-Home Mom Land

  1. I’m on the same boat as you! Loved the article! All points are bang on!

  2. I’m glad you liked it Celia! Thank you for reading. 🙂

  3. I’m on maternity leave right now with the newbie, as I call him 😉 My older kids (11 and 4) started school, but when they were all three at home I felt pretty confident that I need to be out of the house at my job. Now that it’s just me and mister newbie, I feel like I could definitely do this all day, everyday. I’m mixed about my return to work in late September, but I know that I have an awesome resource in this site to help me transition back to work! Thanks for the article!

    1. Thanks for reading, Angela, and congrats on your “newbie”! Working outside the home, not working outside the home- there is always that “what if” factor. I hope your transition back to work goes as smoothly as possible. All the best. 🙂

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I am currently not working since we just moved with our two little boys out of state. While I enjoy it, I do miss working. I miss using different parts of my brain. I will have to go back soon. It wi be bittersweet.

    1. Thanks for reading, Michelle- yes, I’m totally with you (move out of state, and for me, I need to get certified in my field in the new state before I can even think about applying for a job). Being a mother is challenging, but I do miss the intellectual stimulation that my work provides. Good luck to you!

  5. My parents always said “happy parents happy baby”. Besides, if your children never know anything else, what they have is normal. My daughter wanted to be home schooled when she was having a tough time in fourth grade … I said “honey, there’s no one at home”. She’s a productive human today. 🙂

  6. All your points ring so true! Your description is perfect! I’ve been a SAHM since my kids were born but still, after 8 years, feel really weird about not bringing home a check. For us it makes sense for me to stay home because my husband’s job is crazy and he travels a lot. Everyone has to do what works for their family and let me just say there are many days I envy those who get to put on work pants (however crusty they might be)!

  7. I can’t say I’ve really done the stay-at-home mom thing. I worked from home, sometimes with kids underfoot, but fully immersing myself in being a mom without any paid gig? That is hard. And you’re pregnant, which is a job all its own! My hat’s off to you!

    1. Kristi Blust says:

      Susan, I never thought I would be a SAHM, even for a little while, and it has definitely proven challenging. No matter how you slice it, this parenting thing is hard.

  8. The things you have mentioned in the article are 100 percent accurate, i totally agree with you.

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