The Grass Isn’t Always Greener
There has been a long-running debate about the roles of working and stay at home parents, and whose role is harder. Yes, both work hard, but I don’t think anyone really realizes the work and stress that comes with staying home with kids. The physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion cannot be compared.
As a mother of six, while my kids were growing up I pushed through each day caring for my family only to drop into bed each night more exhausted than I had ever been. Now my kids are grown, and although my responsibility is not the same, babysitting my 22-month- old granddaughter while my daughter works twelve-hour shifts, is more work than I have known.
I guess the fact that I am in my late forties doesn’t bode well for my energy level, but still, chasing after a toddler all day is more exhausting than a marathon. On the days I watch this sweet little angel, she is going from the moment her tiny little feet hit the ground until she falls asleep at night. If I am lucky enough for her to take more than a thirty-minute nap, I use that time to either recharge or nap myself!
On these days, when my husband comes home from work, I am relieved to have some adult contact and help with my little tornado, who has managed to take every pen, pencil, and piece of paper out of my desk along with every toy she has here. I am always astonished by his response when I ask him for help.
“I worked all day and I’m tired,” is a comment I have heard from my husband more times than I can count as he sits in front of the television. On and on he goes about how much work he does while I “sit” home while he sits at his desk slaving away for our family, but what I don’t think he understands is how exhausting my days are.
It’s not like I am asking him to do spring cleaning or anything like that. I may ask him to take out the trash, do the dishes, or help bathe our granddaughter. I just need a little help. I would love to have spent my day “sitting” around. I know this is sounding like a rant, but I do have a point. When my kids were young, I would have loved to come home from work and just sit and relax, but my second shift was beginning. Now it was time to cook, clean, and help the kids with their homework. Even when they were very small, and I was a stay at home mom, I don’t remember a time where I was just able to sit and relax in front of the television before the kids were in bed.
Even on days that I am not watching my granddaughter, my days are not easy. On top of the normal cooking, cleaning, and laundry; my days are filled with courses to finish my degree, writing, and whatever else pops up. Granted I am not as busy as I was, but let’s face it, when you get to be older energy levels drop!
This brings me to my point. There are many who think the life of a stay at home parent is easy. People assume that it is a day of relaxing and doing whatever you want. I am here to tell you that is so far from the truth. Not only is there always an abundance of chores to do, the loneliness is crushing. I am a people person and thrive on social interaction. My situation is a little different than most. Because we live in an area that doesn’t provide bus service, and not being able to drive due to a visual impairment makes it nearly impossible to get out during the day.
Being a stay at home parent is hard. Your social life is a toddler who you can barely understand. Because your work is at home, it never really ends. You can always look around and find something to clean, or in my case, get a head start on my coursework or writing. I loved being home with my kids, and now watching my granddaughter, but the work that goes into it is something you cannot fully grasp or appreciate until you have gone through it.