Recently I Googled about stay-at-home moms (SAHMs). Several blogs and articles appeared and I quickly noticed a trend, SAHMs struggle with isolation, depression, anger, lack of feeling accomplished and feeling unappreciated in society which were things I had not contemplated when deciding to be a SAHM. Now let me explain, most SAHMs love being home with their child(ren) and getting to be a part of so many memorable moments with them. They also often recognize the blessing of motherhood and all that comes with it, including never being able to pee alone and constantly having some foreign remains that your little ones so kindly placed on your outfit for you.
As a SAHM, I personally feel it is a huge blessing – an opportunity that I’d never pass up. Before becoming a mom (or “mama”), I had my dream career and I was full of passion. I worked overtime for free and I poured my entire being into that job. Yet, once it was time to enter motherhood, I instantly knew that I would be willing to walk away from that dream (career) to give 100% to my child(ren). There were sacrifices that came along with it; some I expected and others took me by surprise. I knew our budget would be tighter and healthcare quality would decrease. I did not know that people whom I confided in would say hurtful things to me, or behind my back, about my decision to stay home and that friendships would disappear. Nevertheless, nothing could ever change my mind about the decision I made. It was the right one for our family and it is the way in which I want to parent. That being said, I quickly learned that being a SAHM can be very isolating.
First, I chalked it up to being consumed by a newborn and trying to figure out all of
these new adventures – what’s another breastfeeding position, how many diapers did he have today, will it be too hot for him in the bathroom if I take a shower today? So, I happily accepted that things felt a little off and assumed they would improve with time.
Then we entered the next phase where Little One was able to get around more independently. I began to sign up for all of the free classes and mom groups, believing that this would be the time when I’d meet new people and fully embrace this change in my career (because don’t fool yourself, being a SAHM is a full-time career that’s 24/7/365 with no sick days nor vacation days). Well, I was wrong. For whatever reason, things did not go as I had envisioned. I took Little One to toddler gym, but found that I either spent the whole time only talking to him, or another mom I’d seen around might give the casual “Hi, how are you?” that never moves beyond that and into a deeper friendship. I attended a moms’ group, which I do truly still enjoy, yet even there I spend most the time speaking to my child and he’s barely with me because they have free childcare. Many of the moms are nice and we have some general conversations here and there, but nothing authentic ever develops and grows. I was hoping to build genuine friendships where I click with women based on interests and values in life, but that didn’t happen for me. I’m not really a social butterfly, but I did honestly make an effort to open up more during these occasions.
Then there were the old friendships, the ones that seem to have walked away
during those 12 hours I was in labor in the hospital. I’m not sure what happened, but I came home with a baby, and yes, people did stop by to meet Little One, but that’s about the extent of it. I no longer found myself being invited to outings, nor receiving texts/calls to simply see what’s new in life. People were just, gone. In the past, I had been told that people don’t contact me to see how I am because I appear to have things all together and that I don’t need anything. I have since squashed that concept by directly stating that I am normal and do desire friendship. Yet, things continued on the same course. I’ve been told, “This is a phase,” or “It’s just better to be a loner.” But that’s not true for me. I desperately want real friendships and to feel like maybe someone out there actually wants to hear how I am doing (without “listening” while being on a cell phone, gazing at a television or running through their work/to-do list in their mind; those scenarios only make things more painful). I want to be able to laugh with other adults and unwind for a moment. I want to enjoy some “me time” without being worried about what’s going on with Little One, and without feeling guilty that I just need a moment alone (SAHMs are not in the car alone, in the bathroom alone, at a desk alone… it just doesn’t exist because even during naptime, you are spending time with your child’s every breath and whimper and cry; doing the mother monitoring that appears to be automatic with no off/on switch). I want to have an adult conversation (I’m not talking R-rated, I’m just wanting to have a conversation that goes back and forth where the other adult is actually interested in what you are saying.). I want to be able to date my husband and still be his wife (and who knows, maybe even get really wild and wear something besides sweatpants to dinner, or brush my hair!). I want to get a moment when I can exhale and relax my shoulders (the tension can become so heavy). I want for others to understand what I am experiencing (and perhaps even have some empathy when I appear to have lost my mind) and help me to feel okay again.
All of that brought me to where I am now… Googling to see if these feelings are common, or I’m just a nut (No need to give an opinion on that statement in the comments section – ha ha). Thankfully, there ARE others out there who feel this way. This was by far the article I could relate the most to! There were also other articles that suggest ways for SAHMs to drive away from these harder feelings, though most lists didn’t work in my situation. They said things like: rely on your support system (yeah, that’d be one of the things I’m trying to find/create), spend time with your friends (yep, another road block there), go enjoy a hobby (ummm… so remember that Little One that I’m watching? Ya, who will be watching him during this hobby!?!) and be more vulnerable (I thought that’s what I was doing here???). That being said, I will continue trying ideas and Googling more tips that might make a little more sense to me. Until then… if anyone reading this is a SAHM who is loving the time with your child, but can also sense that things are not exactly what you thought they’d be, please know that there ARE others like you out there and you are not alone! Don’t give up and keep enjoying those sloppy baby kisses!!!
Ahmeli… that SAHMs (and dads) will discover that they are not alone and that we (and our loved ones) would authentically support and encourage one another on this amazing journey.
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