why I hate being a stay-at-home mom

I hate being a stay-at-home mom.

There.  I said it.  Call me all the names you want.  It will still be true.

I hate having my daily life revolve completely around the care and upkeep of everyone else. I went to law school rather than medical school in part because I acknowledged to myself that caring for the basic needs of others could not be the central focus of my existence.

I hate that any achievement I make (A delicious dinner!  A clean bathroom! A watered garden!) is almost immediately undone or disappears. There is nothing that I do that is of lasting, tangible impact.  In my last job, I created things, I wrote things, I drafted new laws.  In this job, I make a pie that is gone in 36 hours and for which not a soul says anything, except a passing “that was good” from James, which is why he’s my favorite.

I hate that nothing I do merits more than a cursory “thank you” from anyone. Ever.  In my marriage, I tried everything I could think of to solicit some kudos for my cooking, baking, cleaning, painting, yard-tending, animal-keeping, laundering, etc.,  but nothing worked and I gradually learned the age-old lesson of all housewives:  if you’re really good at what you do, your family will take you for granted because people only notice the problems or mishaps in the minutiae of their lives, not the aspects that run smoothly.  A lack of complaints is really the highest compliment a housewife can expect.  And I hate that.

I hate that the harder I try to be seen, the more invisible I become.  Yesterday, I took the girls shopping.  I bought one girl a bike and another girl some clothes and some sports equipment, and another girl an accessory for one of her toys.  For the bike, I got a big hug (which I savored greedily), but the others prompted nothing in the form of recognition or gratitude.  It wasn’t a matter of the missing “thank you” as much as I was hoping that they would see that I cared for them and their needs.  But, of course, they are children and that was lost on them.  As soon as the goodies were placed in their hands, I receded into the ether, gone until the next time they need something.

I hate that I don’t have grown-ups to talk to about grown-up things.  I went to dinner last night with my friend Gwen, and found myself waiting at the table for her arrival, nervous that I wouldn’t have anything interesting to say.  I was fairly certain that she wouldn’t be enthralled with news that the big dog is shedding like a maniac or that our lawn has turned brown in patches and I’ve no idea why or that Jay’s bike tire has been flat for weeks and I can’t seem to get around to fixing it.  But when she sat down across from me and started talking, I could feel my innards begin to untwist and relax.  And before I knew it, we were gabbing away about work and men and kids and faith.  I can’t count the number of times she said to me, “I can’t believe how much you’re juggling right now!  I don’t think I could do it.”  It was like soaking in a warm bath of acceptance, validation, and understanding for a few hours.  But than I emerged, got into my car, and felt my guts tighten up again.

I hate feeling sorry for myself.  I know — really KNOW! — that I, and I alone, am responsible for my current lack of employment.  I knew when I sent the final email to the Mayor that I would likely be terminated for refusing to adhere to his way of doing things.  I also know that there are fateful reasons for my being unemployed right now; I know that it is necessary for me to be home with the children this summer, to ease their transition and grease the blending of our families.  I can easily appreciate that I am immensely selfish for resenting sacrificing one simple summer for the sake of 5 precious children.  But there are definitely days, like today, when resent it I do.

I hate feeling tired and frumpy.  No amount of exercise or nutrition or sleep helps me shake this low-energy mood.  The endorphin high from working out lasts only until the next “MOM!!!!!” is screamed amidst yet another sibling argument.  There is no need to dress nicely when I am simply chauffeuring and cleaning up after children, so I sport the de rigeur summer uniform for the stay-at-home mom — jeans shorts and a cotton t-shirt — each and every day.  Sometimes I even put in earrings, but that only prompts the children to ask why I’m so dressed up.

Being a working mom is really tough. This I know.  I’ve done it with babies and I’ve done it with bigger kids.  I’ve commuted almost an hour each way, through all kinds of weather, while worrying what I was going to get on the table in time for dinner.  I’ve missed school plays and soccer games and sick days for meager paychecks that barely covered the cost of child care.

During my first tour of duty as a stay-at-home mom, I was relieved beyond belief to be free of the guilt that hangs over the working mother like a London fog.  Finally, I thought, I will have the time and attention and focus to devote myself to my children and family and home!  Our lives will be unstructured and stress-free and full of laughter and fun.  But you know what?  I am no more qualified to be a stay-at-home mom than I am to be an astronaut.  I am simply not suited to it.  I don’t have the aptitude or the training or the fearlessness to embrace the challenges inherent in the job.  When I re-entered the salaried workforce after my divorce, I did so with a guilty pleasure about which I am still ashamed.

This second tour of duty as a stay-at-home mom was involuntary for the most part.  When I refused to turn a blind eye to the political corruption in my previous job, I failed to recognize that the absence of another job in the wings might result in my conscription in the Stay-at-Home Moms Corps.  Never, not once in all the time that I was unhappy under the new mayor and feeling increasingly put upon having to work for a foul administration for a pittance of a paycheck, never did I wish that I could be a stay-at-home mom again.  Yet, here I am.

To be honest, I’m not terrible at being a stay-at-home mom.  In fact, I’m actually pretty good at it.  But this is only the second job I’ve ever had that I was good at but didn’t like.  The first was being a waitress at Bob’s Big Boy when I was 15 and had to wear a brown plaid, polyester uniform and orthopedic shoes.  I have to say, in all seriousness, that the waitress job was only marginally worse.  At least I got tips.

I know that at some point, all the job applications I’ve completed, all the resumes and cover letters I’ve sent out, all the interviews I’ve smiled my way through, will eventually result in a new job coming my way.  And I am equally certain that said job will appear at precisely the correct time in the universe’s schedule.  But until then, I’ll make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while wearing my hair in a ponytail and repeating “Would someone please get this hairbrush off the kitchen counter?” for the 534th time.

Because I’m a stay-at-home mom.  And that’s what we do.

mom to-do list


Filed under blended families, parenthood

52 responses to “why I hate being a stay-at-home mom

  1. Boy do I feel this! On the other hand, there isn’t anything else I’d rather be doing. And, we’re here where we want to be- in the sticks with critters.

    My kids all do their own laundry- even the 9 year old. And they have chores to keep things picked up. And outdoor chores…..

    While it often drives me crazy, I can see the value in what we’re doing. And so I do. Eventually, they will be grown and gone. The house will be devoid of arguing and it will be clean……

    • Tikk, we have some of the same rules. All 5 kids (even the 7 year old!) do their own laundry and we have a long list of chores, with the kids divided into “teams” to get things done. With a nearly-5,000 sq ft house, there is simply no way I could care for it and the whole yard on my own during James’ busy season (he works 12-hour-days during the late spring-early fall).

      I tell myself the same thing about how quickly the kids will grow. About how limited my time with them truly is. About how my real job right now is creating productive, happy people to make the world a better place later on.

      But, boy, some days it’s hard to remember that! 🙂

  2. Brilliant! Does that make you feel better. I was a stay-at-home Mom for 8 years. I had one kid, one dog, one husband and one filthy house. I loved being with the kid. The rest of it? Nope.

    The worst part for me was the way women’s eyes would glaze over when they heard I was a stay-at-home-Mom.

    • It DOES make me feel better, Elyse!

      Yes, the eye-glazing gets tiresome. But I live in a place in which the cost of living is so incredibly high that being a stay-at-home mom (with no job whatsoever) is something of a luxury. So I never know whether I’m going to sound like a an underachieving slacker and receive the glazed eyes or whether I’m going to sound like a lady-who-lunches snob and meet with envious indifference. Either way, it’s not good.

  3. I so understand what you mean. Being a stay-at-home mum is just not for me either, it made me feel like my brain was turning to mush for a start… Luckily, in France, being a working mum is the norm, and everything caters for that.
    I am confident that you will find your next job very soon,… And next time the kids need a stay at home parent, let James do it 😉 !

  4. Lady E, I made the mistake of mentioning to my former mother-in-law that I really needed to find a job, and her response was — predictably! — a condescending “well, not all of us are suited to caring for our children every day.” Ugh. It was one of my failures in her eyes — my inability to derive enough meaning from simply being a mom. But that’s okay. At least I was able to hang up the phone and put her comments in my mental trashcan. Where they belong.

  5. Alysia

    I suck at being a SAHM but I also suck at being an employee. I am a hard worker but hate having to be at a workplace at a specific time and for a determined amount of time. I’ve worked from home and it was great. However, very difficult with kids and I was never paid enough during those times to hire child care. I feel like I am a failure because I can’t do the real job thing and I feel like I am a horrible mom. I have smart kids but they drive me bonkers. I don’t even know where to go with this but I appreciate your post. Thank you.

    • You know, I had a very wise and professionally successful friend once tell me that she was pretty sure that nearly all moms, deep down, feel like they’re screwing it up majorly. Moms who stay at home worry that they aren’t being a good role model for their daughters, or helping enough financially to provide for their kids’ futures, or doing a very good job at being a SAHM. Moms who work full-time have job-guilt around all the kid stuff they miss out on and how little emotional resources they have to devote at the end of their exhausting days. And moms who work part-time feel like they’re being half-assed at both their jobs (the mom one and the professional one) and that everyone can see it. And you know what? I honestly, totally buy into this theory. After being a mom for almost 13 years and having been all those kinds of moms, I think my friend was absolutely, positively right. So just do your best — whatever that is — and don’t beat yourself up for it. We all play the hand we’re dealt with the cards we have and it’s all a giant gamble no matter how you look at it. Be gentle with yourself. You’re enough. Really. 🙂

  6. zandra

    This is my first time reading your blog. Google brought me here. I have a different situation than you, apart from being home with 2 young kids, but what you wrote felt really therapeutic. I’m so happy I’m not the only one who thinks I’m better suited for something else than just staying at home. Thank you for your honesty.

    • I spent 6 years trying to be the perfect stay at home wife and mother and it nearly cost me my mental health. By the time I went back to work, I’d endured years of depression. This time around we knew it would be temporary, while I was unemployed, which felt much better. 🙂

  7. sasha

    Thank you for being honest not only to yourself, but also us! I felt so sad reading this. It really makes me appreciate my parents, stay at home parents, adults and well, everybody.

    • I am guessing that you are not yet an adult…? Thank you for your thanks — it does mean something.

      The crazy thing about being a parent is that if you’re doing it right, no one is going to say thank you, because the only ones who really can shouldn’t have to — your kids. The truth is that good parents want to give their kids the gift of taking their parents for granted… the security of knowing that their parents will always be there and always take care of them. That’s part of good parenting — having your kids have so much safety and security that they don’t question your love or care-taking. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? But it’s true. And that’s okay. Some days it’s just more frustrating than others. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment.

  8. bobby

    Am so glad I found your blog, I’ve been feeling the same way for a while now & am getting fed up with emotional battering I put myself through when I feel like some kind of sub par human who isnt counting her blessings & should feel happy that shes had time too have a haircut in the last year & has been wearing the same socks for 2 days because my clean ones ended up in the cat litter tray ‘somehow’ -.- . I’ve tried talking about how I feel but I’ve been saying it for so long that my husband thinks I’m a broken record & as I wont see things ‘his way’ hes not really that receptive when I tell him how run down I’m feeling because he wants me to take time for myself, which I would love to do but then he doesnt get that whatever isnt getting done whilst i’m havin this ‘me time’ still ends up getting done by me later. (e.g. Picking up towels/bath mats after everyones had a bath. Tidying the house after a play session. Cooking dinner & cleaning the dishes/kitchen after). I constantly feel like I have to justify myself to the world (& myself) why I ‘need’ to be able to enjoy a toilet break solo once in a while or why the house has been left as a bombsite all day because ‘me time is important too’. 2 years into this sahm game & I feel like I should be this ‘super mum’ that I imagined I would be when I was pregnant, when really some days its just hard to motivate ourselves to relax & have fun & stop brain rot from setting in, when my brain keeps telling me theres work to be done & if I dont do it now, who will do it? I could go back to work but then I feel like I’m taking such a precious opportunity (watching my children grow & being there for them all the time) & throwing it away but I dont know how to get out of this big dark moody pit of stale cherios, broken toys, crayons & cycle of dirty things….. I salute stay at home parents & working ones too, you really are appreciated guys, even if people forget to tell you/us

    • Boy, do I hear you! A few years ago, I could have written your same comment. I’m just not one of those people to pretend that life — or parenting! — is all sunshine and roses and rainbows and unicorns. At least my life isn’t. Parenting is full of small miracles, but it’s also full of dirty diapers and screaming babies and unwashed mothers and sacrificed dreams and struggling marriages. None of that diminishes the good stuff, in fact, I think acknowledging how hard it is makes the good stuff better.

      • Jackie

        This made me cry- both comments. Of course, I’ve been crying all day, but I digress. I’m almost 6 years in- three little boys in less than 4 years. But you both sum it up so well- especially your line about the sacrificed dreams. Hang in there Bobby- word for word I feel the same. I know you feel alone, but you are not alone.

        • You know, I read some statistics recently about relationship happiness and one of them really jumped out at me: it said that the period of deepest unhappiness or least happiness for both parents was when the children were preschool age. And the more preschoolers at once, the more unhappy the parents were. This resonated so deeply with me, because even though I no longer have children that age, I remember very acutely what it felt like and how much I felt that I SHOULD be happy and feel blessed but I mostly felt sad and stuck. I wish I had known then that it was common to feel that way.

          So, take heart. We’re all in it together. 🙂

          • I just quoted one of the things you said and now I want to quote this one, too. I want my closest friends and partner to understand that crying all day doesn’t make me a psycho, it just means I feel exactly like what you said because I’m going through two toddlers as a 25 year old SAHM right now. Talk about pushing someone to their limits.. and to think my friend of the same age is preggers with her fifth!

            • Two toddlers is a handful — I was there, and I had 10 years more life experience than you when I was facing that period of my life! I admire your tenacity and your dedication. It’s never easy to stay at home and be someone’s full-time caretaker. Putting your own needs entirely aside for someone else’s (no matter how sweet or deserving or helpless they may be) is spectacularly difficult for most of us. And by that I mean for all of us except maybe Mother Teresa. 🙂

              Hang in there. It doesn’t last forever and you will be surprised how quickly they grow into the next phase and you start being able to breath without feeling guilty. Now mine are all old enough to basically care for themselves; they just don’t want to, and that’s our struggle at this age. 🙂 But my point is that it DOES get easier and soon you will be looking back and wondering how the hell you did it. 🙂

              Good luck, thanks for reading and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  9. Deborah

    I also found you on Google…typed in “I hate being a stay at home mom.” And I feel lonely and invisible…I want to scream to people, “I used to be a PROFESSIONAL!” I have a graduate education, have juggled a dozen laboring patients at a time, life or death situations, I had it covered. After our 4th it was harder and harder to find quality childcare, since they were all 5 and under, and it made financial sense for the one who made less money to stay home. But I grieve for being acknowledged each day for doing a good job. I suck at housework, I scream at my kids, I get criticized for a mediocre dinner, a messy house, and why am I always taking shortcuts and didn’t buy organic bacon?? I’m overwhelmed, and as another woman commented, I’m about as qualified for this as I would be an astronaut. Yes, I know my kids are probably getting the best childcare there is out there, but I will look back in 20 years at this time and not miss most of it. Thanks for writing down what many of us are feeling.

    • Oh, Deborah, I’m so sorry you’re in the emotional space you are right now. Then again, I also know that maybe today feels entirely different than yesterday, because that’s kind of how it works, isn’t it?

      I actually laughed out loud and some parts of your comment because it was raw with honesty. I suppose maybe there are women out there who have a completely different experience as a stay-at-home mom, but I was definitely in your camp. Still am, I guess, since I’m still unemployed (13 months and counting…) and so a de facto stay-at-home mom. And it’s true that when I look back at the days I spent with my kids when they were little, I’m glad that I did it. But if I’m being honest, I think part of what I’m glad about is that I know, for certain, that I didn’t miss anything. I might not have missed anything if I’d gone to work, either, but I would have always wondered.

      I read recently that married couples reported the lowest marital satisfaction when their kids were preschool age. I almost snorted out loud, because I left my husband when our youngest was in kindergarten. So go figure. You are clearly not alone. Sounds like there are lots and lots of unhappy moms out there trying their best to do their best by their kids and their families, and feeling totally beaten down in the process. I wish that, as a society, we could have a more honest conversation about what it means to be a stay-at-home mom, but instead it seems that women have opted to compete with each other. That’s a crying shame, isn’t it? I love my girl friends that can freely admit that sometimes being a mom is soul-draining work. It’s so much easier to share the occasional misery!

      I think that it’s important for us to reach a place wherein we can acknowledge that we love our children and would trade our lives for theirs without question, but that sometimes we don’t like being moms. Why is that so damn hard? Sigh. Beats me….

      Good luck to you. You will get through this period just as the rest of us will. And you’ll be able to look back and feel smug that you did right by your kids. 🙂

  10. Jeff

    How about some advise for the husband. My wife is a SAHM for our 4 young boys (10,6,6,4). We have one more “surprise” on the way. She hates her life. Our boys listen to me, but not to her, so they dont act up as much when I’m around. I really hate the fact that she cant stand her life. We have some family issues as well. My side of the family doesnt like her and we have been alienated. For me, she’s my world and my family now, so it doesnt bother me as much as it does her. I try my best to help out as much as I can. I do as much of the housework as I can when I get home. For the most part, I take over when I walk in the door, mostly because she needs the break. She is exhausted. I have little leave left, not much money in savings so its hard to give her a day off. I know I need to take her out more, but our choices for child care are limited as well. I need to get better at that. But, for the day to day life, what can I do or say to make her feel better. I love her dearly and hate that she feels this way. We have been struggling to keep it together. I tend to get moody myself when I hear how bad everything is. Its not that I dont respect what she does every day, its because I dont know how to fix it. Another bad thing is that I’m not a good talker. I tend to keep quiet (my mouth has gotten me in trouble before). Let me know what some ideas are for what to say or do to make her world a little brighter.

    • Hi Jeff,

      I apologize for taking so very long to respond to your comment. It is not for lack of thinking about it, but more that I have been busy with some family issues of my own.

      Anyway, now that I am getting my head above water, I want to go back to your thoughtful comment. In fact, I’m going to write a whole post around it. My guy is like you: wants to help, wants me to be happy, etc. so I know that men/husbands/fathers feel it, too, and I think it’s deserving of its own post. So watch my blog over the next week or so for the post. Hang in there!

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  12. Leslie

    Thank you for your post and all the comments. I hate my SAHM life… I’m just so glad to have found other honest women who are owning up to being honest and true to their feelings.

    • You know, the longevity of this post is amazing to me. I wrote it nearly a year ago and it still generates comments! And what has also amazed me is that when I wrote it, I REALLY was prepared for an onslaught of hating from people who tried to tell me how “good” I had it and how I should be grateful and what a horrible mother I was for even having those feelings. But you know what? I have heard from so many women who sound like good, caring, smart people and who are feeling EXACTLY the same way. I don’t know why we, as women, are so hard on each other sometimes, but it definitely makes us less authentic. I love that this post has served as a vehicle to allow some women to unburden themselves and connect with other women who are experiencing the same frustrations and feelings. I love my children very, very, very much. But I am a much better mother and partner and person when I am not a SAHM. That’s the long and the short of it, and I now realize that lots of other women are the same way. Hang in there. Life has a way of changing. 🙂

      • I just found this after googling “I hate being a housewife”. I love what you said and agree with it. I too am a stay at home parent, for TWELVE lucky years. I know I am lucky. I know it is important work. I am not however suited for this. My raging ADD and my general dislike of being pulled in twelve million directions and cleaning only to have it terrorized immediately is a problem. I am good at most things that I do. I don’t often fail at a job I take on(and if IS a job-not the loving, everything else)……but that doesn’t mean I am suited for this. So thank you for your post…even if it was years ago! It made me feel better….and gave me some grit to really lay out my plan to get my budding furniture painting business OUT of my house.
        Ps…that is not shameless plug.I have a blog attached to my etsy store but can’t find the link to it! 🙂

  13. MrsMK

    Well ladies all I can say is, explore the prospect of getting a job! Staring down the barrel of yet another HUGE summer school holiday (8 weeks for us) I decided that was motivation enough to start looking for a job. Yes, I’ve been unemployed for 7 years, but my last boss was my husband, so I’ve been able to dabble with those figures slightly 😉 Buy yourself a good suit, some new heels and go out there and interview, or temp if you’re not getting interviews – even the process itself is motivational and is keeping my head above water during these excruciatingly boring/lonely holidays. Also, consider getting your body back in shape – strong body, strong mind. Some gyms offer very reasonable childcare whilst you get a workout (break!) Finally, make regular time out for yourself so that you can appreciate the time you spend with your kids. As far as I can see, the only ones who enjoy “quality time” are those that don’t have enough of it (I.e. Working mums). And remember, the landscape of what it means to be a SAHM has changed completely in the last 60 years; most of us live in isolation, without extended family or neighbours to keep company. That kind of living, whilst dealing with the endless demands of children, is a recipe for depression!

    • Tina

      I hate my life. I wished I never became a wife or a mother. as Mrs. MK said(“most of us live in isolation, without extended family or neighbors to keep company. That kind of living, whilst dealing with the endless demands of children, is a recipe for depression” ) THAT is me!! I moved from sunny California to a depressing rural town. ” for the : good of the children” HA! I was slightly unhappy as a SAHM mom in California , though I had friends of 13 years, many places to go and see! Now I’m lucky If talk to my husband. – I tried PTA (PTO), working the fairs, getting a job! ha! what a joke if your an older mom with a husband who travels…. no family and friends is the hardest! at least once in while the dog barks to break up the loneliness. I’m seeing a therapist so I can talk to an adult! “paying for a friend”. I used to be an outgoing vibrant person, now I’m disgusted, angry and invisible.
      “Mom”- thankless job.

      • Oh, Tina, I am so very sorry — your comment did not show up in my feed for some reason until I received a notice today of a comment on an entirely different blog post.

        I’m sorry you’re so unhappy. I really do understand that sense of loneliness in the midst of so much busy-ness. And I hate how moms are supposed to be so cheerful and perfect and loving every single day, even when so many are watching the best parts of themselves drip slowly away. In my marriage, I had a husband who traveled a lot, too, sometimes for 2-3 weeks at a stretch, and I actually found that just about the time I would get used to doing the juggling act with just me and the kids, THEN he’d arrive home and expect me to shift attention back to him. So very hard!

        I hope that your situation has improved since you wrote this and I hope that you are beginning to see that your space is not permanent. The days feel so interminable sometimes when you’re at home with young kids, but now that I’m past it all, I feel like it’s a million years ago. You will, too. Until then, do your best to figure out workarounds that work for you to hold your sanity. And know that this, too, shall pass.

        Good luck to you.

      • Confused/drained/who am I anymore!?

        Lol reading this made me laugh so hard because I can totally relate I thought wish we could all be friends as we could all get a good laugh and get to complain and feel understood !!

  14. I am right there with you. I absolutely hate being a stay at home mom. For a while, I was going to school and that was a great escape even though it was stressful trying to get photography projects done with two children that never wanted to sleep. My husband adds to the mess upon messes that I have to clean up. I use to be soo skinny, never went over a 100 lbs, now I have gained so much weight because of how depressed I feel. I need an escape so that I can miss my children. When I have that time for me, like school, I feel that I am no longer losing myself. I turn around and everything I just cleaned is ten times worse, which gives me zero time to do any of my photography. I could go on and on. but I won’t, just glad that others feel the say way. People think I’m a monster because I don’t want to be at home with my kids constantly.

    • I think you hit upon a really important and genuine idea: needing time to miss your kids. I totally get you. I do SOOOOO much better with my kids when I’ve had a break and a chance to contemplate their good qualities instead of noticing that they have (once again!) left their socks on the sofa. But seriously, I have a theory that motherhood has always been accompanied by depression for precisely the reasons the women here have stated. I just think that we used to accept it more readily as being “our lot in life.” And now we know that we can have a little bit more of an identity and still be a mom and so we CRAVE that intensely, which probably makes our tendency toward depression greater in a way.

      I think it’s fantastic that you have a creative outlet. Maybe you need to rethink how you incorporate it into your life…? Maybe there are smaller ways you can practice it and enjoy it without having it create the stress you talk about?

      As for your husband helping, boy are you singing my song. My ex-husband didn’t do anything (and I truly mean ANYTHING) around the house or yard. He was always off at the club playing tennis. I felt like I had an extra kid and his silent criticism when the house was messy or the kids misbehaved just slayed me and my self-respect. I don’t know your husband and so don’t know if talking to him would help. I tried, it didn’t. But with my current partner, if I talk to him about it, it does help and he pitches in, so I guess it depends on the guy.

      Whatever happens, good luck and feel free to visit and vent anytime. We’re all in the same boat, and some of us feel exactly the same way. 🙂

  15. Thank you. I can’t even explain the emotion this caused. I am a young stay at home.mum of four under 9 years old. I literally typed “I hate being a stay at home home” just for the relief it would bring to see someone else say it too. In a society that tells you that you HAVE to enjoy staying at home, and hoards of mom groups blasting you if you work, it has become an often silent, tragically lonely career, to stay home with children. Of course it is valid and worthy, but how dare everyone tell me I MUST enjoy it??! I am burdened with my own incredible sense of failure and lack, I don’t need (nor deserve) the reproach of anyone else. So again..Thank you. So much.

    • I hear ya, sister. The reproach is so unfair. I don’t understand competitive mothering. It’s so cruel, and it’s so hard on us moms that don’t naturally love the 24/7 parenting thing. It blows my mind that somehow we are all expected to love constant nurturing and neediness, but the same pressure is not put on women to LOOOOVE working in corporate America, which is where some women truly do feel more comfortable. I for one need a balance — this summer I have worked nearly full-time, at least half of it from home, and have only had a nanny for one day. For me, this is just about perfect balance. But I still get it from both sides: some people want to know when I’m going to get “a real job” and others ask if I’m sad that I’m not spending more time with my kids this summer (I generally bite my tongue!).

      I think it’s important for us to support each other and help each other find whatever balance works best for us. A happy mother is a better mother and a better role model for our kids.

      Feel free to vent here anytime. The internet is great for that! 🙂

      • Anna

        Wow! Thank you so much for this article. I needed this today. I needed it, as well as the incredible outreach from other parents feeling the same bourdon. I’m a mom to a six month old “stuck” on a military base overseas where opportunities are limited and the small town feel of the base can get heavy. The last post of “a happy mother is a better mother and a better role model for our kids”. That’s so important.
        Even more so, I can relate to all the feelings here. I’ve thought about going back to work, done the math and realized that the bottom line is, it wouldn’t make sense financially or emotionally. Breaking even or barely over the cost of daycare in exchange for major guilt, no thanks! What’s more I’m doing the part time thing, barely working a small 8 hours a week and selling are and photography on the side and yes, things do feel half assed sometimes. There’s days where’s I’m a rock star- not a trace of clutter in the house with a five star dinner on the table and a happy baby, and there’s others where everything is in shambles and I wonder what the hell is wrong with me after my fifth cup of coffee with a crying baby and nothing done around the house. I’m ready to tear my hair out wondering why I can’t just be grateful all at the same time.
        Anyway, this was a great post- thank you for giving people something to be related to.

        • You pointed out so many “truths” in your comment — the financial idiocy of going back to work, only to turn your whole paycheck over to the nanny or daycare and feel guilty doing so; the Wonder Woman/Incompetent Parent roller coaster than moms ride day-to-day; etc. I think that it’s so incredibly crucial to have a partner who “gets” it. My husband didn’t and so I could commiserate with him or complain to him; if I did, he just thought I wasn’t a good mom and was being selfish. One of the things that my current partner does right is that he doesn’t expect the kids not to drive me crazy, and he doesn’t expect me to love cleaning the house, and he doesn’t expect me to be a Super Mom. This summer, even though I’ve been working a lot from home and so have a better self-identity than I did last summer, he knew that being around 5 kids every day was making me insane, so he paid for a nanny one day a week so I could go to lunch with my friends, go to yoga, and just be away from the kids. I used that day to work more often than I should have but was still a godsend. And just being relieved of the guilt of not being Perfect Mom is such a huge weight off. I wish so much that men could learn how to better support the mothers of their children. I think it would make a world of difference for all of us.

  16. Like half the other people here, I typed “hate being a sahm” in a google search. I try not to focus on how stuxk I feel, but I spend most of my day trying to escape and detach from my two preschoolers. I work at home whem my husband is off and am blessed, and sometimes feel a little guilty, he is so supportive and pulls his weight. I don’t feel the same pressure to keep a clean house ir make amazing meals. I enjoy cooking and make intereating things when the mood suits. I started school and having a real job in a couple of years is the light at the end of the tunnel. Staying at home is just so mindnumbingly boring! I drive to different parks just to stimulate my own senses. The feeling that I should be doing enriching activities., art projects is always in my mind. I read in another blog that all they need is to play outdoors, dressup, and read books anywqy, so that has eased some stress. I think about my upbringing. My parents didn’t do anything special with me. My mum occupied herself with cooking, sewing, gardening. I figure they can play by themselves. But I do worry that all our interactions revolve around preparing meals, cleaning them, dressing them. 2.5 and 4 has been the mist challenging time. Is it okay to hate who your kid is? Whiny, crying, bossy, neurotic, hates to share, hoarding. Where are the stereotypical portraits of children with doting parents, hugging and readong stories and throwing a ball? My four year old is more likely to run off with the ball and throw herself on the ground when required to actually throw it to someone else. I am so glad to have a place to bitch and complain. I get the thing from people where they don’t get that I work at home. Like it is optional or isn’t a real job. It pays real money! Ahh, feel better. Thanks for the vent.

    • Well put and glad to hear that your partner is supportive — a nice change!

      You captured a lot of my own feelings from when my 2 girls were that age. I’d nearly forgotten some of those frustrations, but you captured them perfectly. I have to believe that there are lots of us who felt/feel the way you do. :-). Hang in there. The stage you’re in will pass. And feel free to vent here anytime. 🙂

  17. A different perspective

    I’m trying to be sympathetic, but it’s difficult reading these comments about SAHMs who hate their lives.

    Be thankful that you have only your children to deal with, or that you get to “work from home.” I go to work every day for a crazy, abusive boss who throws temper tantrums better than any two-year-old I’ve ever seen. And his come complete with desk-banging, threats about my job security, humiliation, and four-letter words.

    Does your two-year-old do that?

    My health has deteriorated, I’m sick because of stress, and I have never cried so much or been so emotional before in my life.

    Somehow, I work my 40-hour week and make it to all of my children’s sports functions and events, unless they are occurring simultaneously. Oh, and I also do all of the housework and cooking, and much of the helping with homework and studying. Hubby is too “busy” at work usually to help out. He comes home when he wants to, he will help the kids with homework and studying when he wants to (he is good about that at least), but he does zero housework or cooking or laundry.

    Then he has the gall to tell me that I need to “learn to relax” at the end of the day like he does! Why do you think he has the ability to relax in front of the TV?

    Because I’ve done everything else!

    Oh, and you don’t think that all of the housework and cleaning and cooking that a working mom does isn’t undone in a matter of minutes, also? And we’re not saying for the hundredth time, “Why am I stepping on this toy car again?”

    Unlike you, I don’t look for or even want accolades and thank-yous and, “Gee, that was a great meal, Mom!”

    I just don’t want to be yelled at anymore by a crazy person. That is my one wish.

    The guy is angry because his stay-at-home wife is spending all of his money. She worked until she married him several years ago, then conveniently decided she didn’t want to work anymore. He has been stressed about finances ever since. But it would never occur to him to cut up her credit cards or tell her to stop spending so much money. Nope. He just takes his frustrations out on me.

    He has actually told me that I need to work harder so that he can “afford” her.

    She became a mom about a year ago, so I guess she finally has her “excuse” for not working, but she’s done a lot of financial damage in the interim.

    Yes, I’m job-hunting, by the way.

    But please, tell me again how much you hate being a stay-at-home mom and how much you hate shopping or baking a pie or watering your garden because nobody thanks you. Wah. Wah.

    I will gladly trade places with one of you. I will stay home for my beautiful children, and you can go to my job every day and work for a sociopath, and we can see how long you last, working to put food on your own table and trying to save for the future, and so a spoiled wife can afford a new Prada purse and lounge by the pool on a weekday, getting a tan.

    Any takers? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    • I can understand your frustration and you have my sympathy. I think most moms have been on both sides of this divide. That was exactly my situation and the reason my husband (at the time) and we decided I should stay at home at that point. Which, of course, opened up a whole new can of worms…

      When I wrote this post, I was actually involuntarily unemployed, having lost my job and all the financial security that came with it. So part of my personal frustration at that point was based on not wanting to be a SAHM – I desperately wanted and NEEDED a job but couldn’t find one. Which makes staying at home much, much worse.

      I also think that this is part of the big divide between women — those who wish they could work and those who wish they could stay home. I know, for me, my then-husband and I realized that child care was so expensive that it made more sense for me to stay at home and him to work longer hours. That didn’t feel like much of a choice to any of us.

      Anyway, I know it might be hard to sympathize with the women who’ve commented, given what you’re going through, but sometimes it’s useful for us all to realize that the grass may not be greener on the other side – it might just be different.

    • I think the most painful part of your comment, is the assumption that I despise the “luxury” of being a stay at home mom. That is the greatest insult anyone gives me. To trivialize my sacrifice, and it is an incredible sacrifice, as something that comes straight out of a fairytale. I wake up with birds chirping and make three homemade meals whilst my kids play happily and the husband returns from work with a kiss and an “atta girl! “. It’s not that quintessential. I think the grass will always just be greener you know? As a stay at home mom, I struggle with incredible isolation and you know what? I’ve tried to work several times, but couldn’t make enough to justify childcare or even afford it. So I was sort of forced to stay home
      And yes, I CHOSE to stay home, because I think there’s infinite value in doing so. But never, ever, make that a small thing. It isn’t. It isn’t easy, it’s very lonely and often confusing and garners a lot of comments like the one you gave. It’s often looked down on or assumed you had to because you were too uneducated to get a “real job”. I have a degree in English and have worked incredibly high paying jobs…then I stepped down from those to raise my kids..and yes, my life probably has less emotional abuse (but your boss is an extreme example and I would say this is far from the average experience) but there are times daily, where working a job, seems like a vacation from staying home. Just consider that. We aren’t whiny spoiled brats. ..we re mothers. Like you. Tired, overworked, and underappreciated, like you.

  18. So

    Well I feel the same as all of you, 4 children 11 long years at home. My professional life was on the way up and here I am now, at home, frustrated, depressed, with 4 kids being kids, and a husband that thinks I am a crazy ungrateful cow for feeling like this when I have it all!
    I have it all all right, all the laundry, cooking, cleaning, whining and what have you. Time for myself? why? he says, you do nothing all day, classic, and that much is true, my days go by in the nothingness of cooking, cleaning etc… yesterday is just like today, the same day over and over and over…
    And of course when the children misbehave is my fault, I’m doing “it” wrong because they are always with me. Yes, after the children were born, relationship between husband and wife has gone bunkers, to say the least, they (children) seem to have brought the worse out of us. (sorry about my grammar English is not my first language)
    My brain is gone to mush, as one of the comments pointed out, even my husband wonders what is wrong with me, as my English gotten worse over the years. I could go on and on for ever, but it is all too familiar to you. I was supposed to be the happiest mum in the world as I wasn’t to be a mum at all, then one day I found myself pregnant… four times. But it is not working out, I don’t enjoy being at home at all, it is a chore. I love them dearly and at the same time I hate being at home, lonely, no family as they live in another continent, his family is non existent, no friends , and the people I seem to have nothing in common with. The thought of doing something stupid has crossed my mind many times … But here I am, trying my best …

    • Again, I feel that I could have written your comment a few years ago, including the part about thinking about doing something stupid. What always stopped me was the knowledge that I would be forever damaging my children by leaving them with that legacy; no other screw-ups that I made could possibly damage them as much as that.

      You hit on all the feelings that SAHMs struggle with — the boredom, the loneliness, the lack of appreciation, the disintegrating brain, the loss of oneself as a woman and wife… When I consider how hard it is to be a SAHM, I understand better the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, the way that women felt they had to completely unshackle themselves in every way possible. I think that we look at the 1950’s as these pretty, halcyon days of peace, prosperity, and family, but I have to think now that it must have been suffocating for those SAHMs, too. They were the first generation to be suburban moms — more isolated and affluent, more lonely and bored. All the modern conveniences that were supposed to make them happy only left them empty, it seems. I wonder what the next revolution will be like? Because it seems clear that an awful lot of SAHMs are terribly unhappy with their situations, and that can’t possibly be good for our children. I guess time will tell….

      Until then, know that we all understand you and support you and don’t judge you. I am absolutely, positively certain that your best is more than good enough. 🙂

      • So

        Thank you for your kind words they, feel warm in my heart.
        You said you could have written my comment a few years ago, what did you change? if your life better now, more content, peaceful perhaps?

        • This is both an easy and a hard question to answer. First, I’ll tackle the easy part: my kids grew up some more. My two girls are now 11 and almost-14. They require much less of me and are able to help around the house a whole lot more. Of my 4 step-kids, only 3 live at home with us (the other just graduated from college), and only very part-time (school holidays and vacations), and they are 14, 12, and 8 now. So I’m past the stage of managing playdates or changing diapers or constantly fixing snacks. Now the things I do with the kids are more fun, and my chores are largely based around meals and chauffeuring, which can be tiresome, yes, but not nearly as much as endless re-runs of Dora the Explorer and games of Chutes and Ladders. Also, shortly after writing the blog post to which you replied, my partner James and I created and stuck to a chore chart for the kids, which helped SO MUCH to alleviate my feelings of being a maid, short-order cook, and babysitter. With a lot of kids, you can get a lot of help, but you have stick to your guns and ride out the initial push-back that they give. Now the kids all know that they have to do their own laundry, help with meals, set the table, take out the trash and recycling, mow the lawn, pick up the dog poop in the yard, help clean the house, bring in the mail, clean up after dinner, and help with the weeding and planting that keeps our yard so pretty. It was a real battle at first, but James is very no-nonsense about chores, so the kids learned quickly that complaining only got them more chores. 🙂

          Now for the harder parts: three big things helped me move past my real depression. First, I got a job. Right now I’m only working part-time, freelance writing, and I’m not making much money, but it lets me work and still be there to get my girls from school and attend their functions and not have a nanny in the summer when all the kids are with us. Second, I got a divorce from my first husband, who was never, ever supportive of me as a mom. He constantly told me how good I had it being a SAHM, how hard HE worked, and how much he’d love to trade places with me. If our daughters had any problems, it was because I wasn’t parenting them properly, he didn’t like my cooking, and he complained about every dime I spent. Our house was like a flashback to the 1950’s, which is why I have developed some sympathy for those revolutionary women in the 1960’s — I had my own little revolution, and it was called a divorce from Bryce.

          When I wrote this post, I was actually already divorced from Bryce for several years and had been working full-time for most of them. Then James and I moved in together, blended our families, and I lost my job, all at the same time. That first summer together, with all 5 kids in the house at once and me not working, it made sense for me to stay home with them instead of hiring a nanny and me getting a full-time job (not that I could really find one at the time, but that’s another story). So, when I wrote this post, it was really touching back to all the pain and despondency I’d felt being a SAHM for 6 years with Bryce more so than my frustrations and unhappiness during that summer with James and all our kids. To be sure, that summer reminded me of how much I didn’t like being a SAHM and why I’m not equipped for it, but the fact that I was even “allowed” to express those feelings at all showed that I was in a different place with James than I was with Bryce. Which leads me to the hardest part of my answer to you: I found a man who doesn’t expect me to be a perfect mom, who knows that not liking being a SAHM doesn’t make me a bad mom, and who knows that kids can’t be happy if mom isn’t happy. He loves how I take care of our family, but he absolutely does not expect me to give up my life to do it, and THAT is the single biggest difference between where I am now and where I was when I so horribly depressed with my life as a SAHM when I was married to Bryce. Being married to him and being a SAHM with 2 kids was much harder than being with James and being a SAHM with 5 kids. How crazy is that?

          I’m not advocating that you divorce your husband, honestly. I’m just telling you candidly what changed for me. As you can see, there were a lot of things that came together to make my family life happier. I still get frustrated with my 5 kids, even if I’m not home with them constantly. The same annoyances surface and I am still known to say, “I’m NOT your maid!” on occasion. But things are definitely better.

          And I still struggle with depression, but not because of being a SAHM and not to the same extent. It’s more just how my psyche responds to stress, and something that I’m learning to work through.

          Hang in there. Think about some of the things I’ve written here, and maybe try some out for yourself. But even if you don’t do anything, time will change things. Children always grow up. It’s inevitable.

          Good luck.

          • So

            Thank you so much for your response, it means the world to me.
            It always takes one first step for everything to fall into place I think, but that first step it’s so hard to take.

            I also know that I am where I am (and how I am) for I have lost all of my self esteem, value as a woman and a mother, I realise I put myself in this position and some years and 4 children later the pieces are too many to pick up at once. I can only have faith I will do it, what ever that means…

            I totally understand you are not telling what I should do, I just wanted to know how you managed to change your life, to give it meaning again and some how I had the feeling this was going to be the answer.

            This is so strange, I feel I have a friend whom I have never met …

  19. Jessica

    Thank you so much for this post. I started to cry because many things you said resonated with me (even though I am expecting my first child in several weeks).
    I love working in my field and I love being appreciated for my efforts as well as being part of a team. I had to take a break in order to reduce the amount of regular stress and as a result I became this stay-at-home wife soon to be mom.
    I hate everything about it starting with the fact that I try so hard to make our home pleasant, but my husband doesn’t see it. For example, I know that hubby hates furniture and clutter even if he is messy himself and I proudly found a way to stuck all the baby stuff away. I was so disappointed to see him shutting me down because he realized he had to wake up early and had to finish buying another item for our baby online. I felt so useless because I wasn’t fast enough to his taste.
    Another thing is I became this nagging wife. I became everything I feared and hated when watching my parents argue. So now I just gave up…I am not trying to do anything special anymore because who cares? I ll just do the minimum because I became this invisible person who sounds like a pathetic victim.
    Worse…I remember months ago when my husband was mad about something and wore a shirt inside out. He blamed me for not noticing and told me “to be a better wife” I tried to justify myself but he didn’t listen.
    So I think that unconsciously I am not good enough. What if I am not the best mother that I can be? Especially knowing that I hate this stay at home mom situation…Now I know my husband loves and is supportive, but some things hurt. It’s also hard because my family lives overseas and I don’t want to bother anyone with my stories.
    I ll just keep putting on a smile and keep going. That’s what mamas do. I know that’s what my mom did.

    Thanks again for sharing this

  20. Andrea

    Although I’m not a mother, you described exactly how I feel about being a housewife. It’s something I thought I wanted, but now that I have it I see how thankless it is. Yes I understand my husband is going to work and bringing home the money, but I pretty much do everything else and I don’t even feel like I can speak up about it because I’m not working right now. Anyway, I’m glad I’m not alone in my hatred lol.

    • Yes, I think the feeling of servitude and loss of identity is pretty common when we tie our days to caring for others. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the choice itself, and yet somehow the process leaves us feeling devalued and invisible. Why is that? I wonder. It just seems like such a terrible shame.

  21. tisha

    Thank you for the this invaluable blog- the author, all the respondents- this is just what I needed at this time in my life being a 27 yr. old mother of 2 toddlers. Feelings of isolation, frustration and inadequacy due to the energy zapping day-to-day routines really do take a toll- and the worst part is no one knows what kind of fuel it takes to raise kids and rub a smooth household. I feel greatly united as well as appreciated while reading through al the comments. Many thanks to the author for your courage in saying what everyone (some moms, anyway) thinks, and to everyone else for your input. Cheers.

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