I am a stay at home mom. A housewife. A homemaker. So retro! My feelings about my role vary dramatically.
After six plus years at the same PR firm I was feeling burned out, bored, and frustrated. I told myself corporate America was not for me. That I didn’t need the validation of a title and paycheck to feel fulfilled. So I am not working now, and my “job” is to watch my kid and do household-y type stuff. Mixed emotions abound.
“Stay at home mom” doesn’t feel like an impressive title. I’m a rarity, at least among my immediate friend group and broader circle of Seattle-based peers. I often feel in some way deficient: why didn’t a have a career worth continuing? Sometimes, being at home seems like my default because I couldn’t figure out something more worthwhile or sufficiently lucrative. Too often, I beat on myself over this. My negative mental loop reads something like: Anyone can watch a kid. Kids are resilient. A chimpanzee could do it. Avery doesn’t really need me-she would likely be better off in professionally trained hands. Etc.
As a feminist, I have some issues with my current situation. The fact that my husband works and I do his laundry feels a little gross and uncomfortable to me sometimes. There are gender issues at play here. Would my husband stay home with Avery if I had the more lucrative career? Why might it be an easier decision for a woman to stay home than it would be for a man? I am also leery of feeling fiscally dependent on someone else. And, I feel guilty for not contributing financially to our situation and placing that entire burden squarely on my husband.
Stay at home mom-ing can be really boring. Its monotonous and entails a lot of menial work. Sometimes I feel unfulfilled. I would like to think that I am relatively intelligent and have more to offer than wiping a butt and cutting food into small pieces. Achieving something other than meal planning and grocery shopping for the week would feel pretty good. I was driving to an errand the other day, passed a woman in a business suit and heels, and the gut stab of envy was palpable.
Despite all of this bitching, I also feel pretty lucky. I appreciate that I don’t have to deal with office related bullshit. I recognize that most people I know find their jobs stressful, or boring, or draining, or all three. I know that my ability to forgo working speaks to my privilege-most people have to work. Or, have to stay home because they can’t work and afford full time child care. The choice I’ve made is a luxury. And my crock pot skills have come quite a long way.