Family

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom Who Can't (And Won't) Stop Whining

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An article published here on YourTango entitled "Dear Stay-At-Home Moms: Quit Your Whining" got me thinking. Because guess what? I'm a stay-at-home mom and I can't shut up or quit whining.

For the most part, I agree with the aforementioned article. All the moaning about school runs and sniping about swim lessons and how stressful it is getting the kids into decent schools also makes me want to run for the hills. Because what is there to moan about?

Stay-at-home moms made the choice to raise their kids, so why complain about it all the time? As the article says, "If you don't like it, get off your sweatpant-ed a** and get yourself a job."

But that's where I take issue with that argument. Because, dear god, I would love to get a job. And I had one. For 5 years, I tried to be the world's best life juggler holding down a full-time job on one of England's most famous soap operas while raising two kids.

Every day, I'd dash to drop my kids off at daycare, drive to work, pick them up from daycare on the way home, and fly through bathtime and homework, and bedtime all before settling down to read 8 scripts before midnight. Yeah.

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For this pleasure, I spent over two-thirds of my salary on childcare. Eventually, however, I did the math. One frazzled mother with no time for herself multiplied by gas costs and childcare fees, minus any sense of greatness at either job (motherhood and my paying job), equals a marriage on the rocks and a woman on the verge of alcohol addiction.

Something had to give. So I gave up my job. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to for the sake of my family and my husband. And most importantly? My sanity.

Then — without the pressure of a job — I could be there to make sure my son was able to attend all the after-school activities he so desperately wanted to attend, let my 3-year-old daughter attend nursery school, and still have plenty of energy left for homework and play dates.

Now? I wake up every day, paint on my "happy face," and try not to cry into my coffee.

I know I should feel blessed that I get to witness my daughter show how well she wiped post-poo. I know I should cherish being able to spend 20 minutes on thorough lice check or keep smiling when I've spent an hour making Pad Thai only to have my kids spit it out and request chips for dinner instead. But I don't. 

In all honesty, I feel pretty lost and achingly lonely. Being surrounded by small people all day makes me miss interactions with people my age who have similar interests. Small talk at the school gates isn't the same as storylining a major episode or debating the merits of the writers on the latest box set everyone's watching. It just isn't.

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'So, go back to work!" I hear you cry. But I tried that, remember? Me working full-time is just as bad as me not working. The whole "flexible" thing that some moms have going on? Not really applicable when working on TV.

With all my heart, I wish someone at school had taken me aside and said that after sweating through exams, university, getting on a career path, and climbing the ranks, it would all become impossible when I had kids.

I wish someone would've said that I'd have to compromise in so many ways because my chosen career path is mainly filled with childless folk, AKA those who don't have to dash out of a meeting because, "The nursery closes at 6 PM, and I can't pay late fees!" or pretend to be at the dentist because there's a play on at school or leave early or require notice before travel.

Why should it be so hard to have your feet in both camps: stay-at-home mom some days, and working woman the others?

Personally, I think stay-at-home moms have the hardest job. At least at work I get to pee alone, have full conversations, and drink a cup of tea without it going cold. At least at work, I don't have to talk someone down from an epic tantrum over a tediously mundane issue. Okay, scratch that — TV is full of folk throwing tantrums.

The truth is, the guilt of being a working mom ate away at me, and the worst part is now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, guilt still swallows me up. Why? Because I don't love it the way some other moms seem to, which makes me feel inferior.

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Sure, it's great that I get to witness every milestone, but truthfully, I'm not that fascinated by the daily grind. It doesn't fill me with the same joy that a successful day at work did. Even admitting that makes me feel awful like I'm less of a mom for saying so.

So, I'm trying to write TV shows for a living instead. I'm trying to somehow, in my early 40s, change careers so that I can have both: time for my kids and time for my work. I'm broke, and I'm scared, but I'm trying.

While some moms would love to be stay-at-home moms but have to work out of necessity, there are stay-at-home moms who would desperately love to work, but the cost of childcare prevents us from doing so. I'm one of them.

Which is why we moan.

We moan about the careers we have forsaken, the inequality of the sexes, the loss of ourselves, and (at times) our minds. We moan because sometimes motherhood isn't quite what we expected it to be. We moan because we want to get some work/life balance and we can't!

So, yes, I am blessed. I have a faithful husband, gorgeous and healthy children, and a beautiful home, and I am fortunate enough to stay at home. Now if that home could just be an office filled with some workmates and some challenging scripts 3 days a week, that would be just swell too.

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Suzanne Jannese is a writer and blogger who focuses on the joys and perils of her life and motherhood. 

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