What surprised me most about being a stay at home mom

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When Margs was born I felt like it was the first time I could really breathe in a long long time. I spent my whole pregnancy holding my breath and crossing my fingers for just one more day, one more week and one more month. By some miracle my cerclage kept me pregnant and we welcomed a 40 week (!!!!!!!) miracle into the world on her due date.

I spent so much time focused on getting her here that I never considered what being a stay at home parent would be like- I didn’t care really, my only focus was getting that precious baby here alive.

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15 months later I’m reflecting on being a stay at home mom and I’m realizing that I don’t necessarily love it all of the time. I wish I did, but, I just don’t. Actually, there are days that I’m angry and resentful and frustrated and tired of it.

I feel horrible even writing these things because I’m a rainbow mom. A rainbow mom shouldn’t ever complain about anything parenting related because well, she’s a rainbow mom. I’ve struggled, I’ve faced repeat loss, I’ve had my heart broken in ways that only other loss mums understand and yet there are days that I struggle with being at home with this little girl I prayed and pleaded with the universe to have.

Some days I resent that my husband can head out into the “real” world and socialize with people and have adult conversation. Some days I resent that he gets a mental break from the constant attention, stimulation and energy Margs demands. Then, I snap myself back to reality and realize that he likely resents me for being home with her and getting the privilege to experience all those moments that he misses while he’s away.

Being home with a young child is difficult. Meeting her needs, caring for her, playing with her and watching over her are not the hard parts. The hard parts include the feelings of isolation, the loss of my identity outside of being “mom” and giving up my career (albeit temporarily).

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Some days I feel like I’m not “Jenny” anymore. I’ve become this version of myself that doesn’t know what do outside of caring for a baby. I’ve lost drive, passion and desire – things that fueled my life in very powerful ways before. Sadly, I’ve given up nearly all my favorite pastimes because quite honestly I’m just so tired that I don’t have the mental energy to devote myself to doing anything consistently. I used to love to read, exercise, knit and take photos – all things I’ve basically abandoned because the passion just isn’t there anymore.

In someways, I’ve lost myself to motherhood.

Life has become routinely robotic – Margs wakes – she gets fed, entertained and put down for a nap. Afternoon are the same. Evenings are the same. My days essentially look like carbon copies of each other.

I sometimes deal with an intense desire to go back to work. I was happy in my classroom. I loved what I did. I loved watching young minds analyze, interpret and question and sometimes I’m frustrated by the fact that I’ve given up so much. That sounds so incredibly selfish doesn’t it?

Having Margs was such a blessing. A blessing that I felt required me to give up my identity, lifestyle and career to cherish. We agreed early on that I’d stay home with her. Partly for financial reasons (childcare is expensive) and partly because we’re loss parents who maybe on some level feel like we have to do this to thank the universe for blessing us with such a precious gift.

On days where I’m feeling especially weighed down by it all I feel guilty. So so guilty. I should love this. I should love being home with her and love the opportunity to watch her grow. I should love these things because getting her here meant losing 5 other babies.

I hate that my perceptions of motherhood are tainted by so much grief and loss. I hate that I often second guess my own needs because somehow I’ve convinced myself that it’s not okay to be not okay and that to truly appreciate my gift I must love every inch of motherhood.

Motherhood is just hard. Staying home makes it even harder.

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I’m slowly working on being gentle with myself and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel this way sometimes.Β  I’m working on somehow finding an intersection between the analytic, spontaneous Jenny who I used to be and the run of the mill mom I often feel I’ve become.

Does parenting somehow alter who we are? Does it change us in ways that can sometimes make us feel unfulfilled?


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Author: Jenny

I'm Jenny, a 30-something mama to 1 living child and 5 angels. I live in a tiny blue cottage in a small suburb outside a major Canadian city. I live here with my miracle baby Margs, my husband Mer, my pup and my 2 cats. I blog about a bunch of different things including parenting, frugal living and minimalism. Feel free to subscribe to my blog and follow me on instagram, twitter or bloglovin.

75 thoughts on “What surprised me most about being a stay at home mom”

  1. You have just put into words a lot of what I have been feeling even being a working mom. So much of what I used to be, what I used to enjoy, what gave me energy seems to be lost. I’m having a hard time figure out who I am in adition to the role as a mom. I realise that a lot will be different when the kids grow older, but it’s difficult to occupy solely the role as a mother. It feels like the one I’ve always been is lost. Even more so for a stay at home mom, I guess.

    Thank you for sharing. I hope you can find the new you in your new role. There is nothing wrong having these feelings now and then. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is so much harder than I expected. Even though I don’t wish the heavy feelings for anybody else, it feels good to know I’m not the only one having a hard time. ❀

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  2. Being a mom is hard and I think a lot of people believe you aren’t allowed to have your own emotions. I work full time and that brings its own sense of guilt with it. If I want to go to the gym and work out, can I? Wyatt has been in daycare 50 hours a week since he was 6 weeks old. Is it fair for me to want to be fit and healthy and have him wait on me for another hour?

    While I 100% believe that the child always comes first, I also think that you have to schedule some time for yourself. Chose a hobby you really want to return to – say reading – and make it a point to go to a cafe or library and read a few times a week for an hour. Get a sitter or do it when the husband is home. You’ll feel better about yourself.

    And then one day she will be 4 and you’ll think it will be easier to break away until she gives you sad eyes and tells you she doesn’t want you to go to the gym or wherever. Ha!!! πŸ™‚ Enjoy your time, but understand you aren’t the only one who wishes for a more independent life again every once in a while. It doesn’t mean you deserve her any less or love her less. It just means you are human.

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    1. I’m so glad you shared this perspective with me!

      I don’t think we’ll ever truly be okay with our decisions because in some way we’re programed to second guess is we’re making the right decisions.

      You’re right though, we need to feel whole which means taking some time for ourselves.

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  3. I wrote a long reply and it got deleted grrr! The gist of it was “the power of me too” is incredible. I felt this very much as my daughter had a rocky start and I felt so guilty to not be adoring every moment.
    In someways I think it takes longer to reclaim your identity as a SAHM as there’s no job to return to. You have to build and entirely new routine and network. Now at 26 months and having discovered blogging and the outlet and community it provides, I do feel a lot less frustrated and am probably being kinder to myself. Between 1-2 they do get that little bit more independent which hopefully will give you a few windows of time to rediscover yourself X

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    1. I cannot even imagine how difficult it was for you! ❀

      And you're right, things are changing very quickly in our house with regards to her neediness. She's now a toddler and I can take little breaks throughout the day that were just impossible before.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ugg commenting with a baby…
    I was just dealing with the same things, my husband told me to take the day off and I got to have a whole Saturday to myself. It was wonderful. Sometimes you just need a recharge to deal with the daily mundane.

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  5. It doesn’t sound selfish at all. And maybe if you haven’t already you should consider going back to work, and/or get some regular time to yourself to do one of those hobbies and be not Mum but Jenny.Happy Mum = Happy Kid

    My mum worked full time and took a week holiday with her friends every year while my grandparents looked after me. I never resented her for it. In fact it made me a much more capable kid and adult compared to some of my peers. I know not everyone has the luxury of grandparents able to look after their kids though.

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  6. You are definitely not alone! I’m a pregnancy loss mom, too, and also switched from full time teaching to staying home full time with my daughter. We’re expecting a rainbow baby in two months (!), and we couldn’t be more thrilled. But motherhood (and stay-at-home motherhood) is HARD. I’m always so thankful to read and listen to other moms who feel and know this too.Β It makes those hard parts not as tough. πŸ™‚ Blessings and best wishes!

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  7. Motherhood is full of guilt. Those who go back to work often feel guilty for being away, those who stay home can feel guilty for wanting a break, and I feel guilty for not getting more work done as a work at home (part time) mom. I think your feelings are totally natural and unavoidable, but try to take it easy on yourself. You are doing a wonderful job, made all the right choices for your family, and will get back to your old self eventually. ☺️

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  8. Jenny, I find your honesty so refreshing. It’s far easier to lose yourself to motherhood than it is to to remain whole, but it’s so important to hold on to something–even just one little piece–to remind you of the person you used to be before Margs. You are still that person, you’re an even more complete person now, because you’re a mother. But sometimes that’s difficult for (all of us) to remember. You mentioned that your mother has moved in downstairs. Can you approach her and ask her for one morning a week–just a few hours? Go to a cafe with a book and nurse a cup of tea, a craft store with your knitting needles and start a simple project, or take a walk with your camera–something, anything, to give you some breathing room. Your whole family will benefit from those few hours. Your mother will have grandma time. Margs will have grandma time. You and Mer will have something to talk about beyond Margs’ dinner/bath/bed routine and whether or not she’s getting enough vegetables. When mama is happy, the whole house sings! Take the time. You all deserve it!

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  9. Wow – this summarizes how I feel. I love my kids and spending time with them, but sometimes I miss being around other adults! I also feel guilty because I don’t think I’m doing enough with them and they are watching too much TV. It doesn’t help that it’s -13 without the wind chill today.

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  10. I am a stay at home Mom of our miracle baby. Our miracle baby is 11 years old now. I actually work at home as I am part care giver to my sister who has Cerebral Palsy. But I remember when my baby was a baby still and I went to my mom’s house nearly everyday because I was lonely and wanted someone to talk to. Its amazing how much guilt we can heap on ourselves because we have a miracle child. (All children are miracles – but you know what I mean). I’d feel guilty about wanting more kids – isn’t she enough?- I’d feel guilty about not wanting to play doll house right now – am I so ungrateful? – I would even feel guilty for being tired. But you know what? We can still be eternally grateful for our wonderful babies that we love with all our hearts and wouldn’t trade for anything in the world – and still have rough days. We can still be tired and in need of adult conversation and even restless. Day to day life can do that to anyone. It is OK. And I think God knows that our hearts burst with gratitude and love for those little ones even when we just need to just read a grown up book or talk to a grown up person. Some stuff that helps, I think, is setting aside certain times (it has to be set aside, I think, or it has a way of not happening) for you time and you and husband time. Maybe – every Wednesday evening you get to go take photos or read or take a nap. Maybe every first Friday of the month you get to have a date with your husband. I’m being long winded here, but I just wanted you to know that you are not alone in this feeling, sister, and that it is OK. PS – Soon you will get to see Margs’s young mind analyze, interpret, and question – and what fun that is!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this with me!

      We’re currently working something out with my mom who recently moved in to allow me some longer breaks throughout the week. I think I’ll try and return to working out and doing yoga!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I completely understand, as I am home with my daughter but looking to “get back out there” now that she’s almost 2 years old. It’s not easy deciding to stay home with your child and most moms can relate to this post and understand feeling both blessed and sometimes resentful. In the end, we wind up feeling that amazing gratitude that we’ve been blessed with this little life, it seems to wipe away all frustration.

    But, I do go through my moments too, trust me. πŸ™‚

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      1. I agree and like you I was home during pregnancy (I think you said that you were at home during your pregnancy?) Anyway, I have taken on freelance work to be home with her and have had flexibility to work from home. I am now venturing on, looking to go back to work full-time. We shall see, but it’s been nice to say I was home with my daughter for her first 2 years. She’ll be 2 this May. I also blog about it on WordPress.org at newagingparents.com. I don’t get that many “likes” there because it’s not a WordPress.com site (where your blog is in the “reader” so people can find it). You are free to view and comment or like anything I’ve written there. πŸ™‚ I’m an older momma and didn’t have her until I was 38! I didn’t think I could have kids, she’s our miracle baby!!! πŸ™‚

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      2. Yes, I was home. I actually spent almost my entire pregnancy on bed rest. So, I’m sure some of my feelings are amplified by that.

        I’ll head over to your blog in a minute and have a look. I love connecting with other mammas ❀

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Love your honesty! Loosing yourself in motherhood is so common…I feel like there is a light of renewed self discovery. I myself feel so much better about my decision to stay home now then I ever have. With my girls at 2.5 and 4.5 – I feel more like myself and less like just their Mom. Thanks for your post!

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  13. You’re not alone! It’s tough being a stay-at-home mom, especially when your kids are little. Think of it as a season of life that has its limitations and challenges, but also its rewards. There will come a day when you miss having a baby to cuddle. My youngest is four and while I loved having cute cuddly babies, I’m okay with having older kids now. There were things we couldn’t do for years because our kids were too little, but now we’ve entered a new season of life where those things are possible again. You’ll get through it, too. Just remember how important your work as a mom is–you’re helping shape another person find out who they are, how they fit into the world, and how to live life successfully. That is the most important job in the world, but also the most underappreciated.

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    1. I already miss having a tiny baby to cuddle πŸ™‚

      What’s interesting is that when she was tiny I was wishing the time away because her needs were just so great at the time. Now, that she’s less needy but more mobile I find myself craving the newborn stage again.

      We’re never happy are we? πŸ˜‰

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  14. I know everyone else has said it, but thank you for your honesty. This is something I think about as I approach motherhood. I plan to go back to work and know that I may struggle with the guilt of that too. As mom’s we get put in a no-win situation. There is no right answer for all, you have to find what works for you. It sounds like you are lacking balance, and perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your routine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying “I can’t be a full-time stay at home mom anymore.” You guys are so conscious of budget that I am sure you can figure out a childcare situation (perhaps with your mom?) that allows you some breaks and perhaps some part time work hours? I hope you figure something out. It does sound like you are getting depressed and I’d hate to see that get worse for you 😦

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    1. Absolutely. It’s so hard.

      Now that my mom is here things are a little different since she gives me breaks that allow me to just be me for a few hours.

      I’ve actually been thinking of doing some tutoring part-time to just help me separate myself from mom life for a little bit of time each week.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for your post! Motherhood is amazing but there are a lot of challenges as well. Plus there’s no way to prepare for it until you are in it. p.s. I was a teacher before becoming a stay at home mom as well πŸ™‚

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  16. You have every right to feel how you feel, no matter what your past experiences were. Being a SAHM IS isolating in a lot of ways! It is extremely draining to be constantly attending to the needs of another being, and to labor physically, emotionally, and mentally all day long.

    Luckily, you are coming out of the “baby” phase and entering into toddler phase, when she’ll become more independent and it’ll be easier to find time for yourself. She’ll have more words and be able to engage with you in a new way, and your relationship to her will feel a little more… social, I guess is the best way to put it.

    I don’t want to jump in with advice, since you didn’t really ask, but trust me, EVERY stay-at-home parent has asked these questions!

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    1. You’re so right about the toddler phase being different. Margs is walking and her needs have changed drastically in the last month or so.

      Thank you so so much for your kind words!

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  17. Motherhood is filled with moments of second guessing yourself and feeling guilty in those moments that you don’t love the grind aspect of it.
    Mine are teenagers and I have always been a SAHM and still have those same moments.
    I read a quote that I always thought carried so much truth “Behind every GREAT kid is a mother who’s sure she’s screwing it up”.
    It’s a hard job. It has its rough days and it has its precious days. Wishing you many of the latter. πŸ™‚ -Amy

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  18. Oh dear, You have every right to feel the way you do. All moms have these feelings, whether we stay at home or go to work daily. We are so hard on ourselves while the most important things are that we love our children, take care of our children, show interest in our children. Working moms beat themselves up and stay at home moms do, too. It is extremely difficult to stay home every day with a young person. They take so much time and energy. to parent well. You cannot just sit them down in front of a TV or PC. You have to interact with them, read the same books over and over again, play the same (Boring) games over and over again, etc. I also chose to stay home with my kids. It was not always easy and eventually I did work while they were in school on weekends and when they were much older, full time. It sounds like you are doing a great job. Keep it up. You are both very lucky.

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  19. I know it’s easier said than done, but please don’t feel guilty for not loving the stay at home mom life all the time. Despite your troubles, you are allowed to be frustrated and irritated. You’re still allowed to feel human emotions. Parenting is hard. Very hard if you do it right. It sucks to have to give up things you love to raise your baby, but as Margs gets older it will be easier for you to get back to being you. I know you talked a lot before about trying to have another baby, but with all of the struggles you have been through, it makes me wonder if you would be better off raising Margs for a while and then eventually getting back into your classroom work where you can touch the lives of so many children who need someone like you. Parenting really can sap the life out of you if you let it! Hopefully you can begin to find some time for yourself even if it is just reading a magazine or book while Margs is napping, or watching one of your favorite TV shows. I’m sure you’re not the only parent who has ever felt that way…you’re the rule, not the exception! Keep your chin up lady, you’re doing just fine!

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  20. I love this and can completely relate. I have a PhD, taught on a tenure track, and gave it up to be with my kids. I work part-time here and there, but I feel like I’ve given up my “career” for my children. At the same time, I don’t want to regret not being there for them. Such a hard balance.

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  21. There is no magic answer. I worked when my oldest was 4 weeks and when my youngest was 8 weeks. You are tired now, but it gets better each day. When I worked, I missed my kids. When I was at home, I had the same jealous desires that my husband at least got some adult conversation. Is there a mom’s group or sitter you can use to get a break? We all need some me time to recharge the batteries.

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    1. I know this. It’s totally a situation of the grass is always greener. I think regardless of what you do whether that be stay home or work there will be dissatisfaction – think the key though is finding some sort of balance that you’re comfortable with ya know?

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  22. Been there.. you are not the only one. I spent my entire pregnancy practically alone…and no help, well… very little help at all. I like to say that at home I was never alone because It was the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit with me all the time.

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  23. Regardless of how we all get to become moms it doesn’t mean that days as mommies are all n3d of roses. We ahould all have freedom to express our thoughts on our own journey

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  24. Thank you for this blog post. I’ve been feeling the same surmountable guilt for feeling this way lately. I try to remind myself that it’s been about 5 years though since I’ve really practiced any sort of self care either and I know that if you are not taking time to care for yourself it makes it that much harder to care for others. It’s hard when you feel like you have lost sight of yourself and feel like everyone else is progressing forward in life but you are at somewhat of a standstill. You’ve continuously sacrificed EVERYTHING and like you said there really are no perks like you would have with an outside of the home job. It also is very monotonous and it can also feel lonely at times. Kudos for you for being so raw with your emotions. Not that I’m glad you feel this way, but it’s always nice to find someone where you can say “me too”. You’re not alone in your feelings and your feelings are perfectly legitimate and normal. Some days feel like you are just hanging on by a thread just waiting for something better…then out of nowhere you are reminded WHY you are making the sacrifices you are and it somehow all makes sense.

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    1. thank you for reading and sharing this with me. It’s so hard, it’s worth it but doesn’t mean the journey is easy. I’d be lying to my readers and to myself if i pretended that motherhood was great all the time ❀

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  25. I’m so tweeting this. I don’t have children personally and haven’t decided if I want them. My boyfriend was unsettled to find out that I’m unsure if I see children in my future and I couldn’t put what I was so afraid of into words. But you have! It’s the idea of becoming Mum and not being Josie anymore. I have quite a colourful personality, I don’t want to lose my identity

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    1. It’s very difficult to find a balance between your identity as a mum and you as a person. Some days are good others are hard. She’s nearly 16 months old and I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m sure though it gets easier with time!

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  26. Yes! Being a stay at home mom is the hardest job I’ve ever had to do. It’s also the most rewarding and I wouldn’t change it for the world even on the hardest days.

    We are all just doing the best we can for our little people. finding balance is so touch but it’s so important to still take time to do the things you loved before becoming a mom!

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  27. Oh my goodness this was just beautifully written. So raw and honest and powerful that it made me tear up! I have never lost a baby so I can only imagine those feelings of guilt for not feeling grateful at every moment. Thanks for being real x

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  28. I feel the same way, even more so after having lost a child – these moments should be EXTRA special! How dare I complain… I have four children while some have none! I’m blessed that I’m able to stay at home while other mamas have to work. I also homeschool, so I’m with them 24/7. Being an introvert makes this even more challenging; I like things quiet, I don’t like conflict, I could happily spend my day without saying anything, I like my house to be clean and organized. HA

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  29. Oops, posted that before I was ready. Anyhoo… I was saying HA! None of that is possible with kids in the picture. It’s important to realize that we are, in fact, only HUMAN. It’s hard to like anyone 100% of the time, especially when they are so demanding (and messy).

    By the way, my rainbow baby was born on his due date, too. This after the first three were all early. Go figure!

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