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Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Is Nothing Like I Imagined

A little over four years ago, after the birth of my daughter, I made it a goal of mine to find a way to stay at home with her. At the time it wasn’t a possibility. My husband was finishing school and I was the breadwinner. He was a fantastic stay-at-home father, but I found myself envying the time they spent together.

On weekends during my evening newscast my husband would bring my daughter to the news station so we could all have dinner together. It was a bittersweet experience. I loved her seeing me at work. I wanted to be a good example to her. But I also wanted to be with her more.

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A couple years later I was expecting our second child. By then my husband secured a stable job and my work schedule was becoming more flexible. My daughter loved her preschool and she was doing fantastic work there. I was scared out of my mind to change things up, but I couldn’t bear the thought of taking our infant to daycare at just 12 weeks old.

Mothers do this all the time. I told myself. It’s going to be OK. But my husband encouraged me to consider staying at home with our kids, if I wanted to. His schedule was pretty hectic and overall it would make things easier for our family.

I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for the shift in pace, the unexplained exhaustion and the mystery of where all the time goes during the day.

As I contemplated this decision throughout my maternity leave I worried I’d be bored out of my mind. In my 12 weeks off of work, I managed to make it through eight seasons of "Desperate Housewives" and most of "Grey’s Anatomy." I walked my kids to the park and took lots and lots of pictures. What in the world did moms think was so hard about this gig? I am going to have a blast!

I returned to work and issued my resignation within a few months, but was fortunate to secure a part-time position to keep my foot in the door and contribute to some of our family's finances. I couldn’t wait to spend more time with my kids and get a much-needed break from the 40-hour work week.

A year in? I realized that my much-needed break came every Wednesday and Friday when I get to drive to my office listening to what I want to hear on the radio and have an uninterrupted adult conversation with my co-workers. The time I once had to watch my shows quickly turned into “inappropriate television” for my now-perceptive 3-year-old. And my days were now filled with doing everything my kids wanted to do.

I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for the shift in pace, the unexplained exhaustion and the mystery of where all the time goes during the day. No one knows how you can love someone so much, but on some days, they can also drive you to the edge of the mental cliff and make you want to jump off.

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My friends at my station love to tell me how I have the perfect situation, and how it’s so amazing that I get to spend so much time with my kids. I agree with them to their face, but I am also so tempted to pull them aside and whisper, “but being here, at work with you … This is the easy part!”

Is being a stay-at-home parent a terrible, horrible, awful situation? No. Is it different than I expected? Completely.

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