I never saw myself being a stay-at-home mom. Even when I was pregnant with the twins, I always planned to return to work after my maternity leave was over. As a teacher, I was fortunate enough that when my maternity leave ended, summer vacation began, so I got a total of five months off work. I figured that would be enough, and that I’d start teaching again in the fall. But then I ran into friction going back to my old job. Since I’m a fairly recent transplant, I haven’t finished earning a professional teaching certificate in the state of Alabama yet. I ultimately decided that what made the most sense was staying home with the twins until I was done earning my certificate.
There are so many things about being a stay-at-home mom that I didn’t know or didn’t understand and a whole lot that I thought I knew and was totally wrong about! Here are the misconceptions I had about being a stay-at-home mom that I quickly realized weren’t true.
1. Stay-at-home moms come from well-off families who can afford to have a parent stay home.
I’m listing this first because it’s the biggest one. I was so sure that if a mom stayed home instead of working, it was because her husband made enough money that they could afford to live comfortably on one income. I seriously believed every stay-at-home mom had plenty of money and no worries about finances. Well, that couldn’t have been more wrong. I was working as a public school teacher and James is a full-time PhD student and graduate teaching assistant. We are not even marginally close to wealthy. If you asked everyone we knew to describe us, I’m confident that nobody would consider mentioning our net worth. On top of that, everyone in our family works full-time – we don’t have anyone who can watch them all afternoon for free. And with what I was earning teaching, putting both babies in daycare would have been such a significant part of my take-home pay. I’m able to stay home with the twins not because we have a ton of money, but because we made lots of sacrifices and pretty much made peace with being broke.
2. Stay-at-home moms have a ton of free time.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me? Nah. Have I ever told you guys that I have twin babies? Ones that any given moment both want to be held, are fussing, crying, have pooped, or are hungry? Even if I put them down in a jumper or on their activity mat and try to do something else, it doesn’t take long for them to realize that I am not paying attention to them anymore and they make sure I know that they don’t approve. When I was teaching, I got lunch. I got a planning period. I could even go to work early or stay late if I just wanted some time of quiet solitude in my classroom. At home with the munchkins? Nah. They don’t even like to nap at the same time. So I literally do not get a break.
3. Stay-at-home moms don’t have to deal with work-related stress.
Teaching is a really stressful job. The pay is not great, the students can be super challenging, and you always have at least one unhappy parent or administrator to deal with. I quit teaching, so I should be floating on a cloud, right? Wrong. I don’t have to tell you that being a mom of two babies is s t r e s s f u l. And it’s much harder to turn off than my teacher stress. At least at the end of a hard school day, I could get in my car and drive away from it all. Nowadays that’s called child abandonment and I will go to jail.
4. Since stay-at-home moms don’t go to work everyday, they get plenty of time to rest.
LOLOL *insert 500 crying laughing emoji* What even is a nap? I think I remember taking a bunch of them when I was pregnant and then never again.
5. Stay-at-home moms are not career-minded and give up their ambitions to raise children.
Not only is this untrue, it’s a little insulting to imply that a woman can’t care about her career and her kids at the same time. I love teaching. I may not be in the classroom right now, but while I’m home with the boys, I’m working on my Master’s degree in Special Education K-6 online from the University of West Alabama. I don’t have to go on campus for any reason and can do all my coursework in my pajamas with a little one in my lap. When I finish next year, I’ll have my Master’s degree and a professional teaching certificate for the state of Alabama. Which means when I do go back to work, I’ll be able to progress in my field. Moms can do it all – don’t ever think anything different!
6. Since stay-at-home moms don’t have to go to work, they’re domestic goddesses with perfectly clean homes and dinner on the table every night.
Let me insert some more of those crying laughing emojis here. Look, I’ve never been much of a domestic, and my husband knew that when he married me. If I washed and sanitized all of the baby’s bottles, did a load of grown-up dishes in the dishwasher, and completed even one part of the never-ending “separate, wash, dry, fold, put away” process, it was a good day. And quite often, dinner on the table came from Papa John’s (discounted with a promo code, of course). And that is okay. As long as I have two babies in one piece (two pieces?) at the end of the day, it really does not matter that the house is a mess and I didn’t even consider cooking. My husband has spent enough time alone with our twins that he understands that taking care of them and working on my degree is a LOT. So he has never once complained and is actually very kind about the fact that I’m no Susie Homemaker.
7. Stay-at-home moms are bored in the house all day.
I refuse. After less than a week of sitting at home with Thing 1 and Thing 2 all day, I knew we had to get out of the house. So everyday, we go out and do at least one activity. Some things are fun and special, like our baby Kindermusik classes on Tuesdays or the Mommy and Me workout classes we just started attending. Some things are run of the mill, like taking them to the park for a walk, pushing their stroller around the mall (when it’s too hot outside) or picking up a few things from Target. We might go visit their aunt at work, and we go to Grandma’s house every evening so she can get her daily dose of baby love. Plus, I’ve been doing research and found plenty of stay-at-home mom groups that I can take them to if I just want to sit and have coffee with other moms. I’m trying my hardest to keep this stay-at-home mom thing fun and interesting, because otherwise I will go completely psycho and it won’t be good for anyone.
It’s definitely tough, but I love being a stay-at-home mom. If I had to make the decision all over again, I’d choose it every time, even if it means us eating Top Ramen in the dark every day. Becoming a mother has taught me to never make judgments about how another woman parents because you seriously don’t know what it’s like until you look up and it’s you.