The Stay At Home Struggle

I became a stay at home mom right around Christmas of 2018.

For years, my husband owned his own company and only had to work a couple of hours every weekday (4am-6am) and then was done for the day. He made good money and barely had to work. It’s hard being a one-income family these days, so I worked too. I did the 9-5 thing while he got to stay home with the kids basically being a stay at home dad. His business was with newspapers which unfortunately is obsolete these days, so it was time to move on. He eventually got an opportunity to get into the electrical field and wanted me to have the chance to stay home with the kids. So now he works 40+ hours a week and goes to class at night twice a week to become a licensed electrician.

I am now a stay at home mom and contrary to the popular belief, the mental and emotional labor is harder than you think.

Too many times I’ve heard people say to me, “Must be nice to sit home and do nothing.” I’ve also seen the look on people's faces when I’ve told them I have a bachelor's degree in math and a master's degree in secondary education. The shock and in disbelief I was so capable of earning those degrees. Now before I get chastised, full disclosure, I’ve been there. I’ve worked a 9-5 job while going to night school and raising kids. I wouldn’t trade being home with my kids to go back to work, but I should be allowed to say it’s hard without someone criticizing me and accusing me of being ungrateful. I have three kids of my own. A son who is 8, a daughter who is 2, and a 2-month-old son. My mornings range from watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in my bed to removing marker from the floor in between changing a 2-month-old. My 8 year old reminds me “I’m annoying” after finally deciding to get out of bed and get ready for school. I’m always rushing around to make breakfast, pack lunch for school, and dress all three kids. It’s an extreme workout before I even get to have a coffee. My impression of being a stay at home mom and it’s actuality are two very different things. I imagined mom playdates to the zoo, sipping coffee on a park bench with other moms while our kids run around, having my hair done and wearing cute outfits because I’d have so much free time! The reality is, though, the few friends I do have work. Side note: there needs to be some form of tinder for mom friends because I haven’t figured out how to make them. I tried playgroups, but I never seem to fit in. The reality is, my days get lonely. I have no other adults to interact with or talk to. I long for a best friend who I can hang with our kids and just call/text to bitch whenever I need to. I have heard so many moms say they would do anything to be home with their kids instead of working so to “stop complaining”. So, we stay at home moms put on our big girl pants, and we stop complaining. Instead, we struggle by ourselves silently because society tells us we are lucky we don’t have to work and should shut up. Some days, I go to my mom’s house to have coffee with her, my grandmother, and my aunt. I REQUIRE adult interaction more than any working parent could imagine. Other days I have to clean baby bottles, do laundry, and continuously pick up toys. Half of my days are literally gone and I’ve barely accomplished anything besides mastering the names of every Disney Junior character.

My interpersonal relationships have been affected by this life. Though my husband is amazing and doesn’t care if I go out and buy whatever I need, I struggle with the idea of spending his money. I always had my own because I worked. Now, I’m trying to adjust to the idea of not making my own. He always says it’s our money, but it still feels weird just spending it. I do think relationship-wise, though, this has been great for us. I’m no longer coming home aggravated because I worked all day, so there's no unnecessary arguing. I also feel like we get more time together now too. My friendships, on the other hand, have suffered. I barely had a lot of friends as it was. They all are working moms, so I feel like they just can’t relate sometimes and then I feel guilty forever complaining when they’re stuck at work and I’m home. It makes it hard for me to have anyone to talk to about stuff, so again, I sit in silence.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love being home with my kids and being the one to raise them. What I don’t love, though, is the lingering feeling of losing my identity. I am so engulfed in raising these kids and taking care of everyone that I feel like I have forgotten about myself. I don’t have many hobbies. I don’t have time for that. I barely have any friends at all, so I don’t have anyone to talk to. I love being their mom more than anything, but I don’t love people looking at me like the useless stay at home mom and wife. I am more than that.

I shouldn’t care what people think about me, but I do. Society is allowed to judge me for being a stay at home mom. Whether I’m seen as “lucky” or “incompetent” of being a working adult, most people judge stay at home moms. On most days, after putting the kids to sleep and some form of adult interaction with my husband, it’s already 10PM and I’m still wearing the same pajamas I woke up in. I have to shower late because this is the only time I have gotten the entire day. My hands have literally been full all day long. Whether I’m feeding a baby, changing a diaper, cooking a meal, doing laundry, cleaning the house, it is never-ending. I’m exhausted and I know I will wake up exhausted and do it all over again tomorrow. But I can’t complain; I’m not allowed to. So I’m fine. Everything is fine.

Jenna Nuzzo got the name "mommy" 8 years ago at the age of 19. She graduated almost a whole year early with a bachelors degree in mathematics and was a high school math teacher at 21. She worked full time and went to school at night to get my masters degree in secondary education. After 4 years of teaching, she switched to work in finance. Progressing at a 9-5, even with an office with her name on it, she quickly realized she hated it. I had my second child before my son turned 6. After that, my husband and I decided it was best if I stayed home and raised the kids. Right after my daughter's first birthday, I found out I was pregnant again with our third child. Now, I have 3 crazy little humans who drive me mad and I wouldn't have it any other way. My days are spent changing diapers, making food no one wants, almost peeing my pants because someone fell asleep on me so I can't move, cleaning up one room while another is getting trashed, and so on. I never dreamed I'd grow up to be a tiny human's snack bitch, but here I am and killing it!

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