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6 Reasons Being a SAHM Is Not Natural

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Last night was not my finest moment.

My husband had just gotten back from a prospective job for his new side woodworking business when he skipped up to our bedroom, where I was applying my nightly pound of lotion. (I have a thing against dry skin.) He was brimming with excitement as he relayed the details of the job to me: A full custom kitchen! Rows and rows of gleaming, glistening cabinets! An unlimited budget!

I wanted to be happy for him, I really did. But instead, all I could do was think of was the hours and hours of solo weekend parenting time this was going to mean for me.

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The thing is, I’m not the world’s greatest stay-at-home mom. Here’s my truth bomb: While I love staying home with my kids, I do not love the fact that staying at home usually means long days of being totally alone and hours and hours of drudgery, cleaning and other household tasks. I do it because I believe it’s right, I do it because I can’t imagine doing anything else, and I do it because who could afford four kids in day care?

But I don’t do it because staying at home comes completely naturally to me.

In fact, I happen to believe that our modern-day image of a stay-at-home mother is completely and totally unnatural on almost every possible level. And here’s why:

1. Being alone all day is a form of torture.

Human beings aren’t mean to be alone all day, period.

What does the jail system do to the worst of criminals? Puts them in solitary confinement, that’s what. And what does that to do to people? Makes them crazy, that’s what. And if you’ve ever lived the life of a stay-at-home mom with babies or really young kids at home, you would know this to be true. Human beings aren’t mean to be alone all day, period.

2. Mothers were historically never alone.

I mean really—do you realize that our modern day image of a stay-at-home mom is but a blip in the time of historical motherhood? Moms didn’t really start with the “Leave It to Beaver” stay-at-home mom thing until after World War II, and even then, it was for reasons such as lack of employment and child care options, not always a burning desire for mothers to stay home and hawk Tupperware.

3. Your mom didn’t do it.

OK, so maybe a lot of us had moms who stayed home—but think very carefully about this one. Did the way your mom “stayed home” look anything like what you think being a stay-at-home mom should? Did she ever spend hours reading to you? Plop down on the four and build an elaborate universe out of Legos? Make you homemade Play-Doh? My mom worked full-time as a teacher when I was growing up and during summers and weekends, I can still remember her literally kicking us outside—and locking the door on us.

4. It’s not good for kids to grow up with the world revolving around them.

Listen, I stay home with my kids, but I make a conscious effort not to drop everything for them the instant they ask it of me. (Within reason, of course, I’m not talking when someone is hurt or crying, for instance.) If I’m feeding the baby and my 4-year-old needs help, she may have to wait a minute; similarly, just because I’m home with them does not mean I’m here to serve as their personal slave 24/7. What kind of message is that sending them?

5. Women never had to run households alone.

Reading this post over at The Happiest Home about the myth of women doing it all changed my life. Historically, no one ever, ever expected women to stay home and “do it all.” Women always helped each other, matriarchs always had some sort of household and childcare help, and even though there was a huge division of labor for men and women, women’s work wasn’t trivialized by any means—it was in many literal ways an entire empire on its own. Having another set of hands in the house wasn’t something that was considered optional or a luxury; it was a necessity for all mothers to survive.

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6. Staying at home was never a job.

Here’s my final theory—historically, women have stayed home. They had tons of help, other adults around to do crazy stuff like talk to, and they worked in various capacities that weren’t full-on childrearing, like gardening, sewing and running businesses. That was all normal and natural, and instead of making it a job of just taking care of children, family life was integrated into the other household tasks. Babies were strapped to backs, kids learned to play in packs, that sort of thing. So in my mind, I think it’s more natural for children and stay-at-home parents to focus on seeing staying at home as part of a larger package of combining work and family, rather than just the solo task of raising children.

What are your thoughts? Do you think our modern-day image of the stay-at-home mom is just as crazy as I do?

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