4 Ugly Truths About Being A Stay-At-Home Mom

The 4 crucial conversations you need to have with your spouse before you make this decision.

Marriage Advice: The Truth About Being A Stay-At-Home-Mom

When I decided to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), my mother, ever pragmatic and financially prudent, sat me down, very concerned, and said, "Can you put some money away? Just for you? If something goes wrong, what will you have?" I blew her off. Nothing was going to go wrong, and since our money was our money, squirreling some away was basically stealing it. Besides, my marriage was totally solid and this is what I'd always wanted. Always.


Three years later I was getting divorced, and as my wise mother had predicted, I had nothing of my own. Let me be clear—I gained a lot by being a SAHM. My son gained a lot and that is most important. In the end, we do it for our children and I deeply respect the choice.  Were I given the choice again, I may not do it differently.

However, many of us, most of us I think, go into this somewhat blindly or at least idealistically. There is a level of dependence on another that has some romantic undertones, but which is far deeper than we can see up front. There are some real-life ramifications, financial and emotional, that should be addressed before going into it.


Use this as a guide and talk it through with your spouse. Perhaps some 20/20 hindsight from someone who has been there can shed some light on a partnership usually entered into in utter darkness.

Here are four ugly truths about being a SAHM:

1. The Relationship With Your Husband Will Likely Suffer
When you got married, you were likely a woman with a career and goals and...a life. You and your husband talked about politics, philosophy, work, whatever it was that made you guys click — that thing that had you both say, "I can talk to him/her forever, about anything!"

When you become a SAHM you give that all up to become a mom. When your husband comes home from work, you are likely desperate for grown-up interaction and conversation yet what you're contributing is likely to revolve around poop, feeding and nap schedules and cute things your child did that day, all of which are important to share with your spouse.


But eventually he may wonder what happened to his bright, vibrant, intelligent wife who used to turn him on by spewing statistics about the annual revenues of the company she was VP of, or, well, just about anything other than babies. You may wonder the exact same thing about yourself. Your husband may start to look at you like you're an alien and really crave some conversation that's not baby-centric  and so will you, but you'll be at a loss as to how to produce it. 

Worse, your husband may begin to find that intellectual connection and stimulation somewhere else. While you're home raising this amazing being you created together and will bond you and your husband for life, you've begun to lose all the things you had in common to begin with. So what can you do to offset this?

Do anything. Keep up with the things you and your husband used to love to do and talk about together. Sit down together and make lists of the things that inspire you about each other and make a conscious, designed effort to keep yourself up to speed on the things that intellectually and emotionally inspire each other.

It has been said many times that marriages that work are ones that have an interest in something bigger than the marriage. For example, couples who share a deep faith, or who do spiritual work together, or volunteer for an organization together, are more likely to have successful marriages because the success of their marriage isn't solely dependent on the other person fulfilling their emotional needs. So talk with your spouse about what that could be for you and make a commitment to that thing together.


2. You Will Wake Up One Morning Wondering Who The Hell You Are
I remember the moment when I sat on my couch while my two-and-a-half-year-old son was napping and said out loud, "Now I know why they drink and pop pills." The mind-numbing boredom of it all was suffocating the life out of me. I was not born to do this, as I had always imagined. I didn't want to bake cookies and make my own baby food and create elaborate recipes for dinner for two after all.

Frankly I didn't give a f*ck. I had fantasies of getting in the car and just driving away into the sunset. I had given up everything that I was and had in order to do the greatest job in the world and the truth was that I hated it. Hated it! I had no idea who I was anymore, not that I'd had such a keen sense of it in the first place, but now I was really lost.

This had nothing to do with my deep and desperate love for my son, just the deep and desperate loathing of being an empty shell of a human. And suddenly I got it. That episode of Desperate Housewives where one of the moms started popping pills on the soccer field? Totally got it. I had become a desperate housewife.

There are many women who feel a deep sense of fulfillment in the role of a stay-at-home-mom, homemaker and housewife and more power to them. I only wish I had felt that.


Here are some things that can help if you find you're losing your mind:

  • Join a gym with a good daycare and take classes with all the other moms. It's a great community to be a part of and exercise will boost your endorphins, which in turn will produce more serotonin (happy hormone!) in your brain. It's a win-win. Community, exercise, happiness! Lather, rinse, and repeat every day. You'll look and feel great!
  • Keep up with projects that feed your soul. Whether they're solo hobbies you can do while the kids nap or a regular girl's night out—do it, even if you think you're too tired. I have a dear friend who has a severely autistic son who is usually awake for the day by around 1 or 2 a.m. But every week we meet for wine and trivia, come hell or high water, because, while she's more sleep-deprived than anyone I know, she'd go insane if she didn't take at least some time out for herself.

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3. You Will Lose Your Sexy
A good friend and I were having cocktails one evening last year (one of the perks of single-motherhood) when he said to me, "You know, I never realized you were so attractive. I always saw you as a mom in sweats, but now you're really hot!" When his wife arrived at the bar a bit later, shocked, she said the same thing.


I had really lost my mojo in all the puke and poop, not to mention the crappy marriage to the man who hadn't touched my body in more than three years (but that's another story). I'd always felt sexy inside, but apparently that had been lost to the outside world for a long, long time and I was totally blind to it for way too long.

If you feel like you're losing your sexy, here are some things you can do:

  • Excercise. Any kind of exercise will make you feel more connected to your body and in turn will make you feel sexier. The more in shape you are, the more confident you are. When you feel your tight muscles, you want to show them off. You hold yourself differently, you walk differently. You exude confidence. And that is sexy!
  • Slow down. Only very slightly, otherwise you'll feel like there's something wrong with you. But when you want your husband to notice you, start to move just a little more deliberately. When you're in heels, walk slowly enough that you aren't teetering, but rather swishing your hips just ever so slightly and crossing one foot over the other ever so slightly. If you're at a restaurant and get up to go to the bathroom, hold your head a little higher, shoulders back, chin up and slow your pace just a hair. Trust me: he'll notice.
  • Take pole-dancing classes. Sheila Kelly's S-Factor is a great place for that. No mirrors, no bright lights, just closed, private rooms where you and a bunch of other women can begin to feel sensual and get back in touch with your inner sex-goddess. It's two hours of just you and your body, which let's face it, you need to reclaim after it's been invaded by little baby aliens! After some time, you can even bring your husband in and wow him with a private lap dance!

4. If You Do Get Divorced, You Will Have Nothing
Oh sure, you'll have spousal support for a little while and child support, but you will have nothing to call your own for a great long time. When I got divorced, I had two years of spousal support. Two years! I was under 40 and had been married less than 10 years, so California law allows for 50 percent of the marriage duration in spousal support.

Seems fair enough, except that for most of those two years I was just trying to get my head screwed back on straight. I spent most of my support on therapy, which was the best investment I could ever make, but in the end, two years' support was nowhere near enough. I gave up my house in the divorce. I knew that once my two years of support was up I'd have a hard time paying the mortgage, so I moved into a rental not too far away.


Soon after, my mother offered to help me buy a house, something to call 'mine' that would be less expensive than the house I'd given up. I was overjoyed and we promptly began the process, only to be cut short almost immediately. You see, as I had zero income to claim as my own for the previous four years, I was unable to qualify for my own loan, and while my mother has a good amount of savings from a pretty hefty real-estate investment return, it's all tied up in retirement funds, which cannot be used as collateral on a mortgage.

I went to my ex-husband with this information and asked if he'd cosign a loan for me, given that his income could more than support it. My dear friend who is a real estate mogul refers to a cosigner as "an idiot with a pen," but in this case I thought it was a reasonable request, since I'd given up everything to raise our child.

On the back end, perhaps he could cosign a loan, so I could invest in my own future, and our son's. Nope. No such luck. He didn't want to be financially tethered to me in such a way, (which I actually respect and think is likely wiser in the end), and to this day, I have nothing to call my own, except two pretty awesome dogs and my healthy psyche (both of which are debatable most days).


A post-nup can be a good way to combat this last one, and while no one wants to think about such things in the midst of a happy marriage, since over 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, having this conversation now could save you a lot of headaches and money down the line.

In the end, becoming a SAHM is an extremely personal choice and one which thousands of women make every year. My best advice, however, is to go into it with as much foresight as possible. Discuss all aspects with your spouse and don't go into it blindly.

Kate Anthony works with Single Moms to weed through all the craziness of what this new life has to offer, and find within themselves the amazing, powerful and relentless love-goddesses that they truly are. For more information about how to work with her, visit her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for instant access to The Three Unconscious Mistakes You Might Be Making That Are Killing Your Chances At Happiness.