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Stay-at-Home Mom Angst

Today was one of those days when I felt a little bit adrift and alone as a stay-at-home mom.  Maybe it was the heat.  Maybe it was the fact that BabyC, although she is super cute 95% of the time, spent the other 5% of the time practicing her high-pitched scream.  Maybe it was the food poisoning that had me up puking all Tuesday night and in bed with a fever and achiness all day Wednesday.  Today is Thursday, and I should be all better, right?  Lucky me that I don’t have to go to work and instead live this idyllic life of the stay-at-home mom, putting around the house and playing with my adorable child.

Whenever I even think about complaining about my life, I feel obligated to remind myself and everyone else that I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I think.  I am really really lucky to be able to stay at home with my child right now.  I do cherish all the time that I have with BabyC.  In fact, I usually feel pretty good about life when BabyC is awake.  She is really fun at this age, and it is hard to not appreciate her joy in movement and discovery.

I think the rough spots come at the end of the day, after BabyC goes to sleep, when I might pause to think about what I accomplished on this day.  This is how I am wired – to find satisfaction in achievement.  Maybe that’s what years of grad school and postdoc do to a person.  In the early weeks of being a mama, I set goals for myself like “get out for a walk every day” or “wash and fold one load of laundry.”  At the end of the day, I would have a great sense of satisfaction that I had indeed met those goals in addition to feeding my child for half of my waking and sleeping hours and toting her around the rest of the time.  Now that the mother-load has lightened a bit, I guess laundry doesn’t do it for me anymore.  What I am missing is the sense of self-worth that came at the end of a workday.

Let’s be honest.  There were plenty of workdays when I came home feeling like I should have just stayed in bed, because my experiment failed or I spent all day putting out fires or my heart just wasn’t in it.  I don’t really miss it all that much.  I get to soak up all the smiles that my baby constantly throws at me.  For at least most of every day, my heart is definitely in it.  Still, it surprises me how hard it is.  This, even though plenty of stay-at-home moms told me as much back when I thought they had it made.

Last week I was talking with a friend who just started a new job that is a supervisory position loaded with pressure and responsibility.  She was saying that it is a little surreal, because a couple of years ago she looked at this position and couldn’t imagine herself in it, and now here she is, doing it and doing it well.  I guess being a mother can be sort of like that.  A few months ago, I didn’t know if we would ever have a good nap routine, but now here we are having amazing naps every day.  Nope, it’s not really the same.  The naps might have happened with or without my influence, and nobody cares as much as me anyway.  Talking to my friend, I realized that one of my fears of being a stay-at-home mom was losing that sense of accomplishment that comes when you go out and do something you never imagined you would be able to do.  That kind of satisfaction doesn’t come without tackling something really hard.  Being a parent is really hard and really satisfying, but I guess what I need is to do some small thing, outside of being a mother, that surprises even myself.

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6 Comments
  1. I absolutely get this. I’m a 21 year old stay at home mom of a nearly 1 year old, on top of missing a solid sense of satisfaction or appreciation for the many things that I do in a day that go completely unnoticed by the world aside from myself and the baby (and very occasionally my fiance), I’m also missing out on “the best years of my life”. Every friend I have is out partying, flirting, and socializing with fun interesting people. They’re getting their education, living with their parents, shoe shopping just for fun, and no matter how hard they try, they just don’t get what it’s really like being a parent. I keep doing random side projects in attempt to get that satisfaction out of my day, a sewing project here, some exercise there, but no, it doesn’t really cut it. What really makes it intolerable, isn’t so much that I’m not accomplishing enough, it’s that feeling of just being stuck. Trapped even, if it’s a bad day. Because right now, there really is only so much that I am humanly capable of doing in a day, and it seems like every goal or plan that I can set right now is limited to the short term- I guess because babies grow and change so rapidly, and you can’t really be sure of what to expect. It only adds to the impression you get that the entire world is moving and changing and passing you by sometimes, but you know that eventually, you will be able to continue on with your regular life- right? You’ll have a social life again. You’ll buy shoes for fun…you’ll actually have fun, and full conversations with adults your own age… right? It’s so hard to focus on and appreciate the now, and the little invisible accomplishments of today.

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    October 6, 2011
    • Hi Nedra – I feel your pain! Well, not the 21 part:) I have a decade on you, and I can imagine it would be very very tough to go thru the trials and triumphs of parenting without being able to share them with your friends. And no, they really can’t understand your life right now, can they? I try to remind myself how lucky I am to catch all of BabyC’s smiles and milestones and that even though life sometimes feels like endless monotony now, I’ll be crying when that big girl heads off to preschool. I’ll also be glad to have a little of my life back. That day will come. In the meantime, I’m working at meeting other moms that can relate to my current life and making sure I create something of my own each day. Right now, that means writing. It’s slow going and frustrating that I can’t do more right now, but I try to satisfy myself with small things. Thanks for reading my blog and hang in there:)

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      October 6, 2011
  2. Elena #

    Hi! im 27 and a new mom to an almost 3 months old lovely little baby girl, but have to be honest some times I really miss talking with someone, spending 9 hours alone with my baby can get me very tired and sad an even angry some days and that makes me feel guilty, like I´m a bad mom, I´m hoping that this feelings disapear once my baby spends more time awake and playing, cuase right now feeding, changing diappers and traing to soothe my baby to sleep is getting me a little frustrated. I also wanted to ask you if tyou think 3 months is to young to slpeep trainning? cuase my back is killing me, and cant spend all day long traing to put her to sleep!!!

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    September 19, 2012
    • Hi Elena, I definitely remember those days. I often felt really alone during the first few months, when it was hard and tiring to leave the house and yet baby isn’t all that interactive yet. Can you get out for a regular walk with a friend? That was one thing that saved me. Or find something like a baby storytime (libraries usually have these) or mom/baby yoga class? Even just once or twice per week – an activity like this can really help you to feel less isolated. Talking with other moms going through the same things is really helpful. And also, it does get a lot more fun and a little easier soon. In the next month or so you’ll find your baby is much more interactive and interesting. Once they start to get mobile, then you really have to stay on your toes!

      As far as sleep training… we actually did sleep train around 3-4 months, but I’m not sure I would do it so early with the next child. You can certainly try, but if your baby gets really upset or cries for very long, you may want to wait another few months until she’s a little more ready. You can also give her more and more opportunities to try to self-soothe, even if you stay with her to tell her you’re there, pat her, whatever. Giving her a little time to settle herself may allow her to start developing that skill without actually leaving her alone to do it. Just some thoughts. It’s hard to give much advice without knowing your baby – you know her better than anyone. If you want to learn more about timing of sleep training, I suggest the book “Bedtiming” by Isabella Granic and Mark Lewis.

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      September 19, 2012
  3. Bonnie #

    Raising a well adjusted and well loved functioning child who rises to the challenge of adulthood is the greatest accomplishment if life! (I’ve raised two!)
    Young motherhood had boring times but the challenge is to find joy in small accomplishments and to find joy in “being” . Did you love and care for your child? Great job! I learned as a young mom to let go of some high standards and enjoyed cooking something new, reading a great book (at night mostly) sewing or some other creative project. Doing some small thing for myself made me feel more well rounded and reading helped me keep up with the outside world. Trust me this time in life seems long but it passes by in the wink of an eye! Really it does.

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    July 7, 2013

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