woman reading

Before I became a SAHM, I never felt the need to escape motherhood on a daily basis. I understand how ungrateful that sounds. I can’t imagine the agony of wanting children and not having them—or losing them. I also know firsthand the pain of leaving your kids at daycare when you’d rather be their primary caregiver. A SAHM mom of two complaining about her life is bound to rub someone the wrong way. In my experience—both as a working mom and SAHM mom—moms complaining about anything earns a heft of judgment.

I confess to judging a few moms myself. When SAHM parents complained about how hard their job was, I assumed they lacked perspective. Hard was racing home after a full day of work to dinner, homework and bath time. Hard was crying in a bathroom stall because your kid was home sick and you weren’t there. Hard was the stress of finding childcare for every school holiday, snow day, and early dismissal. When I worked outside the home, every moment with my kids seemed precious. I felt guilty for the hours I was absent in my children’s lives and regretted every missed school function, milestone, and moment.

Then I became a SAHM, and I realized hard has many definitions. Yes, I no longer fly in the door in the evenings and cram a day’s worth of work into five hours. I’m here for every sniffle, snowflake, and tantrum. I’m ALWAYS here. I hadn’t realized how much I recharged at work. Yes, my job could be stressful, but no one followed me into the bathroom. My coworkers never went full WWE over a stuffed animal. I spent lunch hours in the company of like-minded adults or shopping without a grabby preschooler.

Every time it snows or a child falls ill, I thank my lucky stars I’m able to be home with my kids. My kids are still precious. I remind myself to savor the experience. As cliché as it sounds, they do grow up fast.

Other times, I’m D.O.N.E. Before I stayed home, I rarely had the time or inclination to disappear from my beloved family. Now, I bury my head in my Kindle each evening and beg to be left the f alone.

Some women drink wine. Some watch trash TV. I read junk. Of all the ways motherhood has changed me, I find this most surprising. Gone are the literary classics that dominated my life before kids. Now I download predictable genre fiction and disappear into the warm glow of my Kindle. The couple always ends up together. The cops always find the killer. I know what’s going to happen when I read the description.

Mental chocolate. I had a graduate professor who confessed to loving mass produced mystery novels. I remember thinking a little less of her. Now, I get it.

Sometimes the pull to disappear into someone else’s complicated life consumes my present. When my husband is home, I will curl onto my bed and escape into mindless stories, ignoring the sibling squabbles raging in the playroom below, the buzzing dryer, or a Nor’easter howling at the house.

I sometimes feel guilty, but not enough to stop. Like an addiction, I download book after book and exist in the world of ill-crafted sentences and predictable plots. My foray into trash lit has confirmed a lesson I’ve struggled to learn my entire life: Don’t judge something that works for someone else.

It took becoming a SAHM to understand the struggles and complaints of those who spend endless hours with their children. When I worked, I escaped my career by spending time with my children. Now that I’m with them all the time, I sometimes feel the need to escape them. So, I do, page after page. I seek the excitement that is sometimes lacking in my day, but I always come back with an appreciation for the life I have—and little less judgment.

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Kathryn Hively

I started Just BE Parenting as a way to cope with the anxiety of balancing work, motherhood, and the impulse to write. That’s right, I’m not a parenting expert. I, my kids, and my family are perfectly flawed in MANY ways. As a parent, I’m trying to let go of perfection and just BE the best mother I can for my kids. The ‘B’ and ‘E’ in Just BE Parenting also represents the first letters of my children’s names. What works for me and my family may not work for you and yours. That’s ok! Even if we’re not the same, I hope you’ll find something relatable here.

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1 Comment

  1. As someone who stayed home full-time until my son was a year and half, and stills stays home part-time (he just turned five, so I don’t want to go back to working full-time until he’s in kindergarten), I totally relate to this. I’ve chosen this life, but it’s hard a lot of the time. And isolating. My aunt stayed home, and told me that motherhood was the most lonely thing she’d ever done, and I didn’t understand it until I was following her same path. And I get the junk novels — I watch TV, all kinds of TV, and I read fanfic. I read literary novels too, though not nearly as much as I did. There’s something wonderful about not having to pay such close attention, and to read candy instead of a main course.

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