Five years ago, I couldn't have guessed that I would be a stay-at-home mom. But here I am--a year into quitting my full-time job--and I can say with all sincerity that this is the most challenging thing I've ever done. It has topped moving out on my own at 18, working my way through college (sometimes doing three jobs plus school at the same time), getting married while still in school and pounding the pavement for almost two years to score a job in journalism. Below you'll find some of the things I've learned about being a stay-at-home mom--the good, the bad and the ugly.
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Disclaimer: While some of this may sound awful, but all the good stuff that happens in between, will bring you incomparable joy. A joy so powerful that it'll propel you right through the hard parts.
You will always be on. 24/7. Even at night, you won't be fully asleep--you will have one ear listening out for your child. Even when dad's home, you are the one who knows where everything is, when the the kids last ate, and can decipher the most nonsensical baby talk. Because you are there, 24/7.
You will forget to eat. Everyone will be fed, and hours later you'll realize you're starving. You forgot to finish your breakfast (or lunch) because you were too busy getting up to help everyone else five million times.
You will grow. You will learn something new every day--some of those things will break you, and some of those things will liberate you. Your flaws will become very apparent, but so will your talents. You will learn what you truly enjoy, and you will have the opportunity to explore them and better yourself in doing so.
You will make a lot of decisions. Whether you are good at it or not, you will be the planner, and as such you will make a mind-numbing number of decisions on a day-to-day basis--many of which will seem completely inconsequential.
You will meet amazing people. Artists and CEOs and chefs and politicians are all people who choose to stay home with their kids, and you will have the opportunity to befriend them, to pick their brains over tea and commiserate about nap time on a play date.
You might still have to work. You may have to work nights or work from home to make ends meet, and you may even have to get that work done while you simultaneously care for your family. It. Will. Be. Hard.
You will be EXHAUSTED. Because you're always on, and because you are battered and bruised and you've made so many decisions, and you are working from home, you will likely never feel rested.
You will feel underappreciated, yet be fulfilled. It's impossible for anyone to thank you enough for the amount of work you do--you are shaping a person and it will feel thankless. But every day that little person will reward you with his spirit, his hugs, his brilliance, and your heart will be full.
You might feel selfish. You will wonder when you'll get a break, go on vacation, or even to use the bathroom by yourself, and you will feel guilty about wondering this things. You will label yourself selfish--but you're not, you're just human.
You will do the hardest job ever, and you will love it. You will probably never do anything more mentally and physically taxing than raising children full-time. When it comes to your kids everything is personal and there is no escape, and that is serious business. But you will love it, because YOU have a front row seat, and you will marvel.
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Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you hope to be?