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It Turns Out I'm Not a Stay-at-Home Mom

I have a confession. A "momfession" (gag!)

I'm a mother of two children, ages 4 and 2, and it turns out, I've been doing it wrong for several years now.

Wrong, all wrong!

I know exactly where I went wrong, too. See, I used to be a big-time executive producer at a news station. I worked long hours, often not getting home until 11 o’clock at night. I was on-call on weekends even.

As anyone who has ever attempted to raise human beings can imagine, these long hours left little time for my babies or that guy who helped me make them. That guy I saw for five minutes each day, when we met in a parking lot at noon to hand off our daughter, Violet. We called it The Violet Shuffle.

Something had to give. Luckily I'd been writing on my personal blog, The Girl Who, for years and had made some connections that helped me crowbar my way into the freelance writing world. In 2009, after the birth of my second child, Henry, I quit the news biz and became a full-time writer of online missives similar to the one you're reading right now!

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I did this so I could spend more time with my children. And there it is! The part that I mentioned earlier about where I went wrong.

Because I began working from home as opposed to gussying up and heading to an office, as I had spent my entire adult life doing, I mistakenly considered myself a stay-at-home-mom. After all, being at home with my babies was the main reason I made the career change.

Huge mistake. HUGE.

All these years, I've been confusing work-from-home mom with stay-at-home mom.

I’ve spent the past two years trying to write like a madwoman at the crack of dawn, during naps and after bedtime while being available to my children during the day. Any time not spent with the kids caused me intense guilt. Sneaking to my computer, even if it was to check for an email I was expecting from my editor, caused guilt. Trying to sneak-write breaking news while the kids splashed in the tub: more guilt! Checking my phone for work email: guilt-a-thon!

Two long years of this ridiculousness, people! Then, like a frying pan to the head, I realized, I'm not a stay-at-home-mom even though I'm home all day. I'm a work-from-home mom. All these years I've been confusing work-from-home mom with stay-at-home mom. Turns out, I need much of the same kind of help the kind of women we traditionally call "working moms" need. I'm specifically talking about daycare and babysitting help. It was tough to admit this to myself after reinventing my life to accommodate my motherhood.

But help is not a four-letter word, ladies! That's what the brilliant Rebecca Woolf of the beautiful Girl's Gone Child blog said when she wrote about hiring a nanny five days a week:

". . . She helps me with my kids and she helps me with the house and she helps she helps she helps. And I pay her a large part of my salary to do that. So that I can work. So that I can write things that may or may not go anywhere. So that I can write this post that may or may not matter. So that I can do what I love and feel sane and happy and myself.

And there is nothing wrong with that.”

For years I thought I had to do it all myself. That that's what being a good mom is all about. Being there. Now I realize that just as delegating was a huge part of successfully managing a newsroom, it's an even larger part of being a successful mom.

Delegate some of the tasks that come with raising children so that you can focus on really being with them and loving them when you are together as opposed to being a tired, harassed maniac as a result of some misguided notion that you have to do it all because you aren't leaving home to go to a workplace every day.

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Working moms need help.

Work-from-home moms need help.

Stay-at-home-moms need help because, let's face it, we all know how hard that gig can be. The loneliness, the isolation, the relentless monotony of sameness stretching before you each day ...

So the next time that specific kind of mom guilt bubbles up in your chest because you're not Wonder Woman and realize you need a break, a babysitter, time alone in the bathroom—don't let it win! Be the CEO of your little empire and delegate some responsibility to others so you can be the mom you want to be.

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