As a woman who worked full-time hours for years, and is now a stay-at-home mom to an infant, I can confirm that I am much more exhausted and stressed by my new role than my old!
In case any readers are thinking that I must have had a cushy, easy job – I am a lifeguard and swimming instructor. When teaching, I may have had five 3-year-olds at a time, all acting as 3-year-olds do, with the added danger of the water thrown in, and the inability to really discipline children for misbehaviour. Or, I may have had up to twelve children from the ages of 5 to 14, dealing with all the behaviours that their respective ages entailed, while trying to make sure they all learned something. I’ve dealt with behaviour issues such as ADHD, special needs like autism, bullying, self-esteem issues, you name it.
As a lifeguard, I’ve given CPR for 8 minutes before EMS personnel arrived, to someone who had no vital signs when I got to him (he collapsed in the fitness center attached to the pool). I’ve dealt with major issues like seizures, strokes, and rescuing children who would have drowned had I not intervened, as well as majorly annoying issues like parents who tell me that they are not responsible at all for their young children’s safety and refuse to supervise them, sexual abuse issues (men grabbing women or young children in the pool or in the family changeroom) and grown adults having verbal or even physical fights about which lane they should be swimming in, or even – I kid you not – because someone splashed them “on purpose.”
So, to say that full-time motherhood often stresses me out more then my full-time job is certainly saying something!
Did you know that newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours? When it is hot outside they will of course be hungry and thirsty more often. I end up nursing my daughter every 1.5-3 hours lately. Considering that it can take 20-40 minutes for her to drink her fill I end up nursing more than 6 hours out of every day. That is about a third of the time I spend awake. Nursing, in itself, takes up almost as much time as a full-time job. When you include weekends, it takes up more time than a full-time job. It is quite stressful knowing that my body does not belong to me right now, even if the little person who currently owns it is someone I love dearly. Of course, there’s also diapers, cuddling a baby who is fussy or just wants to be close to you, scanning flyers for coupons and sales to plan grocery lists, (we are a very low-income family) grocery shopping, laundry, dishes, taking out the garbage…
For some reason, my husband seems to have started taking me for granted since I became a mother. I know he doesn’t mean to, but he ends up doing it anyways. He only works part-time, so he’s home five days a week, but for some reason he doesn’t pitch in with the laundry, dishes, or household cleaning like he used to. It’s like he thinks that now that I’m not going out and earning all the money, that I should do way more housework, even though my maternity benefits checks bring in more money per month than his job does! He is wonderful with the baby, and does give me an hour here or there where he plays with her, but that is the time I end up doing chores! And usually, he just holds her while he surfs the Internet, something I haven’t had time to do since our daughter was born. I know that there are many, many women out there in similar situations.
So: are stay-at-home moms appreciated enough? No, they are not. I know apologize to my mother every day, because when I was a child I thought she was “mean” for occasionally losing it and yelling that nobody cared about her, or listened to her. Boy, do I get it now, Mom, and if I could go back in time I would tell my young self to listen to you a lot better. Because I’m not even to the point where I’m juggling multiple extracurriculars for multiple children who constantly want to know why their friends get to do more and have more…and I’m already stressed out.
Tip your hats to those stay-at-home moms, people!