I’m going to say something here I’ve been thinking for a long time.
Something I need to get out, something that’s likely going to earn me a lot of flak from all sides.
But the thing is: stay at home moms have one up on me.
I know being a stay-at-home-mom is tough. I have no pedantic lecture on how it’s easier than working. I’m not even for one second going to say that. Hey, I was home alone for long hours in the dark Chicago winter on my maternity leave. I know that it’s a job in itself.
But I’ve also sat on the couch, sobbing uncontrollably, bargaining for any way to stay home with my son. When my impending return to work loomed near, I was simply devastated. And it wasn’t just the hormones.
Leaving your baby is hard.
I know many working moms eventually fall into a groove and enjoy their time away. And I’ll admit, there are certain days when I’m grateful to get some adult interaction.
But those days are few and far between. Most days, I just feel pulled in a thousand directions. My brain is split, managing two full time jobs. One that pays me cash and one that pays with hugs.
I’ve heard stay-at-home-moms state how hard it is to be in a situation where someone needs something from you every single waking moment. I know how hard that is. Because I live it. At work, they too want something from me every single waking moment. I’m not allowed to crawl off and steal moments for myself. Because that’s, well, stealing. All I’m saying is: one you’re a mom, no matter where you are, someone wants something.
I get home and run myself ragged trying to make every last moment count. Because he’s only awake for about 90 minutes of a weekday while I’m home.
It’s a trade off, for sure. Neither role is easy. Moms work, all the time, whether it’s at home or in an office space.
I’m lucky to have Boss Lady, for sure. She knows my family comes first. She encourages me to take care of them. That’s not always the case and I am truly lucky she’s my boss.
That does not mean I don’t get to do my job.
This comes to the forefront because Alex has been sick. Not deathly ill, mind you, but he doesn’t feel good. We’ve been up at all hours of the night, rocking together, trying to fall asleep amidst the hacking coughs that wake him back up. And in the morning, when I leave him at grandma’s so I can go earn money, he screams the wails of the damned. He reaches for me, begging for me to hold him, not to leave him alone.
Staying at home with a sick child is trying. It’s frustrating. It’s hard work. I know, I’ve done it.
But leaving a sick child who is begging you to stay with them? Will shred your heart.
Sure, I get vacation. But you can only take so many days. You can only skip so many important meetings. You ignore your boss’s boss, who flew into town to meet with you and finalize projects, at your peril.
We need that money to eat. To keep our house. I can only toy with it so much.
I’m also lucky that my mom watches Alex. If he were still going to daycare, they wouldn’t have taken him at all this week in his condition. That is a blessing.
And a very tiny curse.
Because I’m TIRED of people saying “It’s so nice that you have your mother to raise your son,” or other things to that effect. Let me be clear: She’s WATCHING him but I’m RAISING him. I know this because I’m the one up in the middle of the night still. I’m the one making the decisions as to how he’s raised. I pick his doctor, his schools, his grandma as the one who will watch him.
But hearing people say things like that never fails to feel like a dagger to the heart. I’ve heard friends say their grandma/aunt/neighbor was the one who really raised them because they were the one who gave them a snack after school. Will Alex never understand how much this is killing me? Will he always think of Grandma as the one who raised him and sacrificed for him?
What I’m saying is, while I’m very lucky to be able to keep putting food on the table, work feels a little like a prison right now. A prison with no hugs.
And for that alone, I feel like stay at home moms have one up on me.