Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Because I'm Apparently Doing it All Wrong....

About a year ago, an acquaintance and I were talking about staying at home with our children and she said, "If you're a stay at home mom and you're bored, then you're doing it wrong." I was so shocked by her frankness, I had no idea what to say.

I still have no reply to it. It obviously hit a nerve because for nearly a year it has been eating away at me and I cannot get that statement out of my mind.

Do you think it's true? Does the fact that I'm bored to tears while singing "The ABC's" for the billionth time mean I'm doing it all wrong? Does the fact that I'm often bored at home mean it's time for me to go back to work? I just don't know.

It's not as if I let the boys watch TV all day while I read or get on the internet. We play with blocks and cars, we read books, we go to the park/library/zoo. Granted, I find myself not reading to the boys as much as I did with Sydney (my bad, I know), but I certainly don't ignore them. In fact, I think there's quite a bit of merit in making them learn to entertain themselves; after all, of the three kids, it is Sydney who had my undivided attention for so long and now has a really tough time finding things to do on her own.

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about going back to work. I would love to be able to have adult conversations every day; you know it's bad when you look forward to grocery shopping so that you can have a two minute exchange with the sales clerk. I would love to be able to contribute financially to our family, too. For six years, Ryan has been the breadwinner and he has not complained one bit, but I still feel guilty about spending money and not earning any.

But then, there's the guilt of daycare. The dreaded daycare decision. For both boys to go to a good, full time daycare, my entire paycheck would be eaten up, so, really, what's the point of going back to work? And there's the issue of sick kids. All three of them have been sick a lot in the past few weeks and it has been convenient that I've been home to take care of them. Mind-numbing, but convenient. Had I been at work, either Ryan or I would have had to take off to stay home with them.

But I am bored a lot. I just don't have the energy or even the desire to entertain/teach my kids all. day. long. I would love to be one of those moms who home-schools and loves spending 24 hours a day with her kids, but that's just not me. I'm a certified teacher and I know I could do it, but it does not interest me one little bit. In fact, I am more than happy to send Sydney off to school each morning and the ten hours that Liam is in Mother's Day Out each week are almost more precious to me than ten hours of sleep, and you know how much I love my sleep.

Most days, I feel like if I don't get a break from my kids, I am going to lose what's left of my mind. (And for those of you who would say something to the effect of, "Children are a joy and blessing. I just don't understand why you don't want to be around them all the time!" I would counter with something like, "I love my children more than life itself, but I dare you to do what I do day in and and day out for years with no end in sight.")

So do these thoughts make me a bad mom? Should I throw in the stay at home mom towel and go back to work? Should I suck it up and pretend to be thrilled to read "Goodnight Moon" for the 6,789th time? Or should I just stop whining about it all and shut up about it?

I just don't know anymore.


  1. Oh, Jana...you're singing my song...sort of. I have no desire to go to work but then, I never have worked! I can totally understand your desire to get back into that world. You are right about the daycare thing though. I think the feelings you are having are perfectly reasonable and normal, especially when staring into the face of the upcoming winter when taking the boys places will slow down.
    I sit here typing this while Pattie watches Tinkerbell for the eleventy-seventh time. I actually have to fight her watching it multiple times a day.
    One of the main gripes I have when I get in this kind of funk is that while Jayme has days off and comes home from work to dinner and clean clothes and the like, as a SAHM, I have none of that. My day ends when the last kid goes to bed and starts when the first one wakes up. Weekends, if anything, are harder because EVERYONE IS HERE AT THE SAME TIME!!
    So here we sit and our blogs become our outlet and our substitute for adult conversation. It's why I obsessively check my blog for comments and why I dread the end of NaBloPoMo because then I may have to go days without anything new to read. Hang in there sweetie...I'm right there beside you, even if it's only in spirit :)

  2. Well, Jana, if having these feelings makes you a bad mother, then go ahead and call CPS 'cause I must be a really, really bad mom! ;-)

    Seriously though: Being a stay-at-home-mom somehow got this glamorous reputation when, in actuality, it can be a very lonely, terribly boring and isolating existence.

    Sure, there are days, when I feel on top of my game and we do some arts and crafts, followed by a healthy lunch, followed by me readying 4 books with "feeling," followed by a 4 hour nap (in which I also get to catch a snooze), followed by an action-packed trip to the park...yadda, yadda, yadda. On those days, I think to myself, "Damn! I'm an awesome mom". The reality is that those days happen about once every 3 months or so. Most of the time, there's more tv viewing than I ever thought I'd allow, (while Mommy is buried somewhere on the Internet, scouring for knowledge, entertainment or a new recipe for chicken breasts) lunch consists of a handful of Cheetos and a Rice Krispie Treat (because that's all she would agree to ingest) and we don't leave the house at all. On those days, I think to myself, "Meh. They're both alive. I'm a good-enough Mom, I guess". Hopefully the days that my kids remember are those special ones, where I'm on top of my game.

    I'm glad that you had the courage to write this post, because I believe that you echo what a lot of the moms out here feel--me, very much included.

  3. I think it makes you an honest mom. As guilty as you feel for not working equals my guilt for not staying home.


  4. I think that was a super-harsh thing for her to say, and also a WRONG thing to say. My guess is that a lot of people with jobs are ALSO bored, but that doesn't mean they're "doing it wrong," it means that a lot of the work of life IS kind of boring. I think when we're SUFFERING (either at home or at work), THAT'S when things aren't right---but I STILL wouldn't call it "when we're doing it wrong." That's such a BLAMING thing to say! I'm kind of mad at her and I don't even know her!

  5. GAH! What a douchebag thing to say. I'm bored almost every day. Maddie loves doing the same things over and over and let's face it, what's fun to a 3 yr old isn't fun to a 33 yr old.

  6. Hello Jana, I work with your husband at JPM. I have three small boys ages 4 3/4, 2 1/2 and a 1 yr old. I am in NY right now on a business trip and just got off the phone with my wife. She is experiencing the same thing. I didn't think I realized how hard it is for her until I read your blog. I want to be there for her, but she is very upset. What can I do besides just being there for her. I am afraid that our situation will not be changing soon.

  7. Steve, right?

    You've done a lot just by listening to her. Sometimes we just need to vent and get it off our chests. That's why I blog.

    I would ask her what specific things she needs to make life easier - a housekeeper, a mother's helper (young teenager to entertain the kids while she cooks dinner, cleans, etc.), to put the older kids in pre-school more days a week, more "girls' nights out", etc. and then do everything in your power to make it happen. If she's anything like me, she just wants a break from the madness/boredom.

    She's definitely not alone, that's for sure, and sometimes just knowing you're not alone is half the battle. Good luck - let me (or Ryan) know what happens!

  8. It's as if she was talking like she's Mrs. Perfect. Honey, you're doing fine, it's normal.. It doesn't make you a bad mother at all.

  9. I would ask the person who made the comment to define 'bored.' Bored and busy are two different things.