If I Could Go Back, I Wouldn’t Be a Stay-at-Home Mom

Let me back up to when I was pregnant with my first child. I remember going to a Memorial Day cookout with my husband’s high school friends and their families. My husband and I are 11 years apart in age, and many of his friends had children already. One of the lovely wives, who had three children (including a set of twins), told me, “Being a full-time working mom makes me a better mother. It’s what I need.” I was shocked at this statement. I figured no mother would choose to work over being with her children. How selfish of her, I thought.

I did not know. I did not understand. How could I?

I knew that with no higher education, it would not make financial sense for me to keep working after I had my first baby. I had been working at Logan Airport, and although I loved my job (and the flying perks that came with it), it barely paid over minimum wage and the commute was about an hour. We did not have reasonable childcare options in the form of grandparents or family, so I was happy to stay home.

I knew that becoming a parent would change my life. I knew I would lose sleep, time, and freedom. However, I think all mothers can agree that until you have experienced parenting, you will not really know the physical and emotional toll it takes.

That I was able to be a stay-at-home mom to my three children is a privilege. It has been a blessing.

It has also been isolating and lonely. That is the part I did not expect — the loneliness. Sure, I was never physically alone — I have always had one, two, or three children with me. But we all know the difference between being with a child and being with adults. Meeting a friend with kids at a playground is great, but it is not the same as engaging in office banter with co-workers or having a heart to heart with a good friend.

Now I look back and wish I had gone back to work part-time during my decade of full-time parenting. I wish I had found a low-pressure job (retail, most likely) to give myself the adult time I needed. Just a couple of days a week. Yes, even if I had to pay for childcare just to break even. I think it would have been better for my mental health and physical health. I also think it could have been beneficial to my children in the structure and change of scenery it would have offered them. 

After 11 years of being a full-time stay-at-home mom, my youngest is about to start full-day kindergarten. I am 100% ready for this. There will not be tears of sadness, nor thoughts of “it went by so fast.” It has been the longest decade of my life.

I know many moms have no choice. They must work to support their families. They would rather be home with their kids. The grass always seems greener on the other side. But I think what many of us truly want is the grass in the middle. To feel like we are still a part of society, adding our light to the world, but coming home and having time with what really lights us up — our incredible children.

Leah was raised in Greater Boston, where she met her husband in 2006. They moved to North Carolina for a few years before deciding their hearts were still in Massachusetts. Leah is a stay-at-home mom and has three children — boy, girl, boy — born in 2011, 2014, and 2017. Her oldest son in autistic. Children with disabilities — and the families raising them — have a special place in Leah's heart. She loves "The Office," date nights, tacos, U.S. history, and the beach. She enjoys sharing her experiences of motherhood, the good and the difficult, to encourage other moms that they are not alone. Loves: Great food (mostly made by her talented husband), playing with the kids, the beach, date nights, The Pats, The Sox, The B’s, new socks and bras, and American history, and movies. Can’t stand: Cotton balls, weeds, broken crayons, pollen, and vacuuming up Cheerios every half hour.

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