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To All the Stay-at-Home Moms Doing What I Never Could

Photograph by Twenty20

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.

I’ve always been a kid person, gleefully getting my “babysitting license” at 12 and embarking upon my first business. I spent years watching the kids of friends and neighbors all summer long, often 40+ hours a week. In college, I worked as a nanny for a few different families and earned a degree in developmental psychology. And even though I had education and career aspirations, I just knew—as soon as I became a mom, all bets would be off and I would be staying home with my kids.

Then life happened.

I adopted my daughter as a single mom just a few months shy of my 30th birthday. While I tried to be a full-time mom and full-time worker (often wearing her in a baby carrier while I wrote articles and edited novels), when she was around 4.5 months old, I had to admit—this wasn’t working. I hadn’t slept more than a few hours at a time in months and the parenting all day/working all night thing was starting to severely wear on me.

So, my daughter went to daycare. Part-time at first, just a few hours a day a few days a week. But I cried and cried that whole first month of drop-offs. I wanted her home with me. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

Fast-forward to now, four years later, and I love sending her off to school. My daughter is easily my favorite person in the world and I genuinely enjoy spending time with her. But by the end of her holiday break this year, I was more than ready to send her on her way.

In fact, on our last day home together, I truly thought I was going to lose my damn mind if I didn’t get at least a few hours of separation from my loud and feral child.

It wasn’t like she was in a bad mood. There was no grumpiness or whining on her part at all. But she just kept screaming. For no reason, and out of nowhere, she was letting loose shrieks that felt like nails on a chalkboard to me. My skin was crawling with the noise. I was completely on edge. And no matter how many times I asked her to stop, she just kept doing it.

Until the point when I screamed right back, “ STOP SCREAMING! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!? YOU ARE MAKING YOUR MOMMY CRAZY!”

And my kid laughed. True story, she thought it was the funniest thing in the world that Mommy was now screaming too.

Kid: 1; Mom: 0.

They have patience beyond anything I could ever hope to achieve, and they are stuck in that loop of crazy with kids day in and day out with no chance for a reprieve.

She was just being ornery most of the day, playing various tricks on me and making messes with her new Christmas toys. I eventually asked her straight out if she was truly trying to make her mommy crazy. She simply smiled, met my eyes and proudly said, “Yep.”

So, there’s that. Of course I was ready to send her back to school. And when the day came, I damn near chucked her happy little butt right on into her teacher's lap.

“She’s your problem now,” I may or may not have whispered under my breath.

I realize all of this makes my kid sound like a terror. She’s really not. But after several days home with me, she was ready to return to school too. She may have been getting a little stir crazy (or just plain crazy) as a result of all the days spent outside our normal routine.

She was driving me up a wall and I was really missing those hours of quiet time I’d grown so used to where I could work and focus on something other than motherhood for just a short time.

As I was counting down the minutes to drop-off during Christmas break, I couldn’t help but think about my stay-at-home mom friends who never get those breaks. Most of the women I know who stay home never complain and they also never get the credit they deserve. They have patience beyond anything I could ever hope to achieve and they are stuck in that loop of crazy with kids day in/day out, with no chance for a reprieve.

What they are accomplishing on a daily basis—continuously putting up with little ones without being driven over the edge—is nothing short of miraculous.

You are the real heroes, SAHMs. The women who know what it is to power through and to maintain a smile throughout the chaos. You are the ones who are able to be all the things for your kids, while somehow also managing to maintain your sanity. I used to want to be you. Until I realized that I could never hack it.

Because, yeah … I was pretty darn excited to drop my kid off at preschool today. And you’re still stuck at home with yours. For that, you deserve all the coffee and chocolate and wine and cheese in the world, as far as I’m concerned. And that's just at a minimum.

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