True life: I’m not even a stay at home mom yet, and I’m already wrestling with SAHM guilt.
Initially when my husband and I found out we were pregnant, the plan was for me to go back to work in a part-time capacity. I have a very flexible job and an amazing boss, so we started looking at how to make two to three days a week work. But the more we crunched numbers and made plans for baby while I would be at work, the more we realized maybe this wasn’t our best option. We just couldn’t get all the factors to line up, and quickly found that what I would be bringing home per month just wasn’t justifiable. So we decided I’d stay home. Woo hoo, right?!
At first, all I could feel was elation! I get to not work in an office and raise my baby girl and take care of our home and this is going to be awesome!! This is all I’ve ever wanted! But not too far behind those thoughts came the guilt. It hit me that I’d no longer be contributing financially, and that my husband would be working all day (almost) every day to make this happen. And I have so many friends that have kids and work! The doubts and comparisons came like a tsunami. But so-and-so has TWO kids and works full-time…. Am I going to become a financial burden on my husband…. Did I really get a degree to just stay home and get covered in spit up all day? The list really was endless. I started to question if this was really the best choice for us and for me.
My biggest hang ups became finances and comparing myself to other moms. Ultimately, as far as money goes, I think you have to get to a point where you trust your gut and the numbers, and do what works for your family. We are beyond blessed that my husband brings home enough to sustain us being a one-income family. Do I still get a little weepy sometimes, worried that I’m stressing him out and being a burden? Yes. But I’m not, and I like to blame the hormones for my refusal to let that become a reality. (In fact, I’m most likely going to end up SAVING us money by staying home.)
But dude, comparison is the devil. Really. What good has EVER come of comparing yourself to someone else, in any situation or any part of your life? My best guess would be a resounding none, never, nada. That has been nothing but true here, at the “go back to work or stay at home” crossroads. Whenever I was around other moms, I found myself checking off whether they stayed home or went to work in my brain. Trying to rationalize our decision against each of theirs. It. Was. Exhausting. And honestly had the potential to make some of my friendships get funky really quickly, as comparison usually does. I think it was the feeling of exhaustion and anxiety that made me wake up from the comparison-induced haze I was living in and finally appreciate that being able to stay home is, for me, a blessing. I was wasting my time away worried about what other mamas may think instead of seeing it for what it really is. Worried that working moms would look down on me, and that stay at home moms of multiples would scoff at the idea of me staying home with just one. I felt guilty that this huge blessing was happening to me. And it made me crazy that I couldn’t get it to match up perfectly with someone else’s lifestyle, in order to justify it.
But no one should ever feel the need to justify what works for them and their loved ones. I had to come to realize that every single family looks different from the other, and what works for one is never guaranteed to work for someone else. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to make being a one-income family work. Some women would love to stay home, but it’s just not in the financial cards right now. Some women work part time. Some women have worked their butts off to get where they are in their careers, and simply cannot justify leaving all of that behind. While some have kind of coasted since college, and wouldn’t even consider what they’re doing now to be their career (that’s me!), so staying home sounds awesome. And in the end, it doesn’t matter. One isn’t better than the other, and there shouldn’t be any guilt associated with your choice. Whether you’re with your children from sun up to sun down, or you drop them off at daycare and pick them up when your work day is through, you are an amazing, phenomenal mama. What’s best for you is what’s best for you, and all we can do is own that and support each other. And pray for sanity.
This is the first post of one of our newest contributors, Blake! We are looking forward to many more great posts from this awesome (soon-to-be) momma! And be sure to check out her previous guest post on Navigating Discouraging Advice as a New and Pregnant Mom.