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My Stint as a Stay-at-Home Mom

It’s confession time. And let me preface this confession by saying, I know admitting this out loud will not necessarily make me the most popular mom on the playground, but here goes: I don’t think I’m cut out to be a full-time stay-at-home mom (with no help). There, I said it. You have no idea how much weight has been lifted off my shoulders since I came to this realization, and then finally admitted it to myself (and my mom) this weekend. And even though I know this to be true, I know I am still a good mom who loves being a mom more than anything else in the world. There isn’t an accomplishment or job I am more proud of, in fact.

I realized it this weekend, even though I’ve sort of had a hunch for a while now. Saturday was Yom Kippur, and I decided that rather than schlepping Preston to synagogue with my husband, then trying to nap him at my parents’ house, then to one or both of our families’ houses for dinner to “break the fast” at sundown, I’d bow out of it this year. I hope God (and our families) forgive us, but it’s just too long of a day for a one-year-old.

So, Saturday was a rare opportunity for me to spend the entire day with Preston alone. That may seem like an odd thing for a mom to say, but weekends are usually spent as a family, as we do pretty much everything together (that is, until the football season started). Weeknights are also spent together, except for Jay’s weekly softball games, but that only occupies his time for like an hour. So, yes, it’s rare that I get Preston all to myself. Saturday was the first time in a long time that it was just the two of us (or three of us, if you count Barkley, our dog), from sun up to sundown.

I want to be very clear about something: I am not looking for a pat on the back. I’m just stating this as a matter of fact.

I also had Preston to myself for most of the day on Sunday, so that Jay could attend his cousin’s 30th birthday party, and then watch the games with some of our friends at a bar. I took Preston to run an errand with me in the morning and attempted to have lunch with friends afterward, but that didn’t work out so well since it was right around Preston’s nap time; we had to make a quick beeline for the car to get home, right before our meals were served. I skipped lunch, as I often do when I’m simultaneously trying to feed him and myself. I got one sip of coffee in, which was the only sip I had in two days. I know, poor, poor me.

Please also note: I’m not looking for anyone’s sympathy here—this is what every mom deals with, I know that. Hard to plan lunches, or errands when you’ve got your tot in tow. It’s hard to have a quiet cup of coffee, grab a quick manicure, read a magazine, or even blow dry your hair straight. Saturday I had trouble carving out 30 seconds to go to the bathroom because Preston is a little needy right now (he wasn't feeling well), so every time I tried to walk away to clean the kitchen or pee, he got upset—plus, now that he’s discovered how to be mobile (without actually crawling on all fours, it’s amazing to watch) I can’t leave him alone for long. He did take a three-hour nap in the middle of the day, so I utilized that time as best I could.

Again, I realize these are all things you, as moms, already know—but since I am not home alone with him much, these are not my usual circumstances. My issues are usually of the “how can I quietly sneak out of work by 6 p.m. so I can get home in time to feed Preston dinner” variety.

Because I work full time out of the house, I don’t take Preston on errand runs or lunch dates by myself that often, or when I do Jay is with us (two pairs of hands are always better than one). Because my time with him is limited to the weekends, and Jay’s usually home on the weekends, on the rare occasion I make plans that don’t include Jay I usually leave Preston home with him while I do what I have to do. For one obvious reason: It’s so much easier. And, thankfully, I have a hands-on husband who doesn’t mind.

So two straight days of having Preston to myself, and I came to the realization that I am not really cut out for stay-at-home motherhood. Maybe if I did it more often I wouldn’t find the in-and-out-of-the-car routine to be such back-breaking work; maybe if I were in better physical shape, I wouldn’t be lying on ice packs the past two nights (full disclosure: I had back surgery a few years ago, so it’s not entirely Preston’s fault, I have a pre-existing condition). Maybe if Preston weren’t already half my height (he’s 32 inches tall, I’m 61 1/2 inches short), it would be easier for me. Maybe if he were walking already, it’d be easier altogether (or, really, maybe it’d be harder!).

Either way, it is what it is—and, yes, I’m feeling a twinge of guilt over the fact that for the first time since having him, I was actually kind of looking forward to Monday. Because that meant I could have a square meal, a cup of coffee, maybe even get a manicure at lunch (wishful thinking, but it could happen).

Before you judge me for saying this, remember: I just admitted something that no mom should ever admit. I am well aware that one weekend alone with Preston does not compare to what full-time SAHMs deal with on a daily basis; nor do I pretend to know how hard it really is. Maybe I’ll feel differently about this in a couple of years or when there are two kids in the picture, or maybe I’ll never feel differently. Maybe I'm just not cut out for it.

I also came to the realization that being a SAHM is the hardest job in the world (I already had a hunch about this too), and no matter how hard it is being away from my baby as much as I am, being with him 24/7 with no help might just be harder for someone like me. Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying though: I love being a mom and love spending time with Preston, but I love it even more with some help. Is that so wrong?