I’m a stay-at-home mom who firmly believes that cooking and cleaning are not part of my job description. Do I make meals for my child? Absolutely. Do I maintain a level of cleanliness in my home as not to attract bugs and avoid hazards, sure.
Do I love gardening with kids in our backyard? Definitely! Anything else is extra. I don’t make sure to pick up before my husband gets home from work and dinner is never on the table. Ever.
My husband goes to work to provide his family… everything. He buys all the stuff I should be cleaning and the food I ought to cook. I am eternally grateful. I get to spend my days with my daughter and the only time I forget how blessed I am to be a stay at home parent is, every 5-10 minutes when I long to be the one who whisks away to somewhere that is not my house, where there is only one persons set of needs to attend to.
This might ruffle some feathers, but I don’t owe my husband his favorite chicken dish and clean underwear simply because I stay home. I’m a stay at home mother – not a stay-at-home maid, not a stay-at-home chef, not a stay-at-home “my responsibility to do everything else besides earn money.” I am my child’s mother, not my husband’s.
Our family has a delegation of responsibilities that sits outside 1950’s standards– our daughter associates her father with vacuuming and hard work. Which is super, because 1) we are just crushing gender roles over here and 2) I’m not vacuuming. (And if I am, it’s because I want to, not because it’s expected. We both do what we have to do to keep this ship from sinking.)
Most days my kid takes a nap and do you know how I capitalize on those few precious moments? Not by running around like I’m on Adderall in a cleaning frenzy (although amphetamines would make this gig easier). I sit on the couch, I scroll mindlessly through 7 social media platforms, I call my best friend – I pull myself together, so my daughter can have a loving, attentive person to wake up to. And because I deserve it.
If you want the baseboards wiped and a casserole full of way too much cheese ready when you walk through the door, then I’m gonna drop the most important ball I’m juggling: our child’s development.
I teach, I change, I love, I explore, and I plan. I don’t operate from a wellspring of guilt and unpaid debt, trying to do all of the other things because I’m able to do one thing: stay home.
There’s a secret that every working parent knows and that stay-at-home moms (or dads) wish more people would say: staying home is harder. Before you have children, work is this terrible thing you’re obligated to spend 40+ hours a week doing. After you have kids, work is a respite. Children reframe everything – they show you what’s important and they reveal new meaning in words like love, joy, work, and challenge.
When our daughter was born I worked 3, sometimes 4, days a week. I stood on my feet for anywhere from 8-10+ hours per shift, I talked to people non-stop, and I was always carrying something, remembering something, or doing 5 things at once. And it was easier than caring for my child. Staring at a computer screen, lifting heavy things, or meeting deadlines: all less demanding than answering a little ones demands.
Putting dollars into a bank account, keeping a roof over heads, and providing diapers to go on butts is an important job that someone has to do, and so is yours. Don’t lose sight of why you and your partner decided one of you should stay home: to care for your children. Everything else is a bonus.