Childrearing

SAHM No More: I Don’t Envy Stay-At-Home Parents As Much As I Suspected

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Later, though, as we ran out of things to say to each other—and this is a friend who I used to chat with for hours without ever coming up for breath—I wondered if maybe I was a little bored. Maybe I had been bored before I started working full-time and making a real effort to fill my life with things that were creatively and intellectually stimulating.

It’s not that I’m bored with my old friends but rather the routines of my old lifestyle. And the sort-of blindered lives that many parents live, focusing only on their children and not much else that’s going on in the outside world. I mean, I’m not saying that all mothers are like that, but I am saying that it is easy to fall into that trap, where your life revolves solely around your kids to the detriment of the rest of the world.

Now, I’m constantly participating and living in a way that has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a mother. Is this lifestyle exhausting at times? Sure. Totally. Again, just look at the circles under my eyes. They’re huge. But as busy as I am, my working life is also so much more fulfilling to me than stay-at-home motherhood.

I’m being fulfilled in a way that is not only separate from my kids but also, paradoxically, intertwined with them in a really important way. It’s separate, naturally, because it has nothing to do with them. My work is something that is defined by me and my own skills. But it’s also connected to them because they share in the pride that I feel in my job and they benefit from having a mother who has more to talk about at the dinner table than her exercise routine. One of the best parts of my day with my kids has always been sitting down to dinner and sharing one good thing and one bad thing about our days. I was always fascinated by whatever they would tell me. But I used to honestly struggle to come up with my own answers that didn’t rely on “the best part of my day is sitting here with you.” Sometimes, of course, that is the best part of my day. And that’s great. But it’s also a lot more beneficial for me, and for my kids’ perceptions of me, when the best part of my day is something new and exciting for them to hear about.

And so while, no, the lives of my stay-at-home mom friends don’t bore me, neither do I envy them as much as I might have thought I would. I might not have time for yoga or a morning run through the park anymore, but it’s worth it to me. The grass where I am is just fine.

(photo: Anita Potter/ Shutterstock)

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