Staying Home is Not the Hardest


I would love to stay at home.

Over the course of my years as a mother, I’ve done it all three ways: working full-time, part-time, and staying home. Staying home was by far the happiest, most fulfilling, most enjoyable time I’ve ever spent as a mother. I knew it was temporary, and I continued to pay my share of the household expenses by spending up the entire balance of a 401K account that had taken me twelve years to accumulate.  I have yet to regret it. Sure, I might want to retire some day, but I wanted to stay home right then, and it was a wonderful time.

I was aware, every day that year, of the luxury of time available to me. If I didn’t get to a task today–eh, well, I could do it tomorrow. There was no rush, no need to cram every possible errand into a Saturday morning. I had time to take my children where they needed to go, and time to chitchat with them. Time to sit out on the deck and watch the rain with them–you know, it rained today while I was in the office, but I couldn’t go outside and enjoy the smell of it and the feel of the breeze. My time belongs to my boss, and she doesn’t pay me to sniff raindrops.

I kept on top of the housework while I stayed home, and I was able to circulate around to several different stores to catch the grocery bargains. (That’s unthinkable to me now…my husband usually does the shopping while I stay home Friday nights to clean, but if I DO occasionally get drafted to go, after that one hour of shopping I’m totally beat, because I’m already running on fumes when I get there.) When I stayed home, I cooked for the family every night. My kids would ask me what was for dinner and I would have an answer for them. (Sometimes now my son gets a shrug.) I remember my husband remarking about how nice it was to come home and find there was nothing he needed to do. (Now he does a couple of loads of laundry every night, at least.) I joined a gym while I stayed home! They had free child care available for my little boy. Now, we have a free gym available in our neighborhood.  My son ( now twelve) asked me, this very night, didn’t we say we were going to start going to the gym? I groaned and said, “Let’s not.” Driving home and climbing the stairs is workout enough. Once I get in the door and get out of my work clothes, leaving again is not in the forecast.

I’ve been giving you a picture of my life. Granted, not everyone will experience working or staying home as I do/did. I’m sure lots of women think working full-time is a piece of cake, and they still have plenty of time and energy to do what they want in their off hours.

And I am even MORE sure that a number of SAHMs are chomping at the keyboard to tell me that their lives are not a breeze because they have ten kids, not two, and they homeschool them and live on a farm and churn their own butter and whatnot. Yes…that sounds much harder and more taxing than my stay-at-home time. But there were some choices made there, right? You did choose to have that many children, you certainly chose to homeschool them, and they do sell butter at the grocery store. I am not knocking you! God bless you in the life you chose.

If you would only stop complaining about it. That’s right…complaining. When you say, “It’s the hardest job in the world….oh, um, and the most fulfilling.” Or when you post those memes about “I work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.” When you commiserate about what a sacrifice it is to stay home. When you gripe about how your baby kept you up all night or your kids have been sick for days. (Try the agony of deciding whether to send a somewhat-sick child to school or face dire consequences at your job. Try being up with that crying baby and still having to put on your dress and heels and makeup, and then sit up straight and look at little numbers on a computer all day.)   What’s worst is when you describe your job as “thankless.”

Wow, I wonder how that makes your husband feel? In my eyes, the fact that you are allowed to stay home is an extreme PRIVILEGE. Have you lost sight of the fact that it is a GIFT made possible by your husband? Thankless? How about you being a little more thankFUL? If my husband came home tomorrow and said, “Hey, guess what–why don’t you quit your job and stay home. I’ll continue to drive in rush hour to work all day every day to satisfy customers and bosses who may or may not be reasonable. I’ll deal with the stress of knowing that at any moment, if I make an error or if I  don’t perform well, they could walk in and tell me I no longer have a job. I’ll pay for the roof over your head and the food in your mouth and every stitch of clothing you wear…and if you decide you need volumizing mascara or new cushions for the sofa because you’re just no longer “feeling” the old ones, well, honey, I’ll pay for that, too. I’ll pay for your mammogram and your prescriptions, and your glasses, oh and of course your car and gas. If you want to buy a birthday gift for a friend, I’ll pick up the tab for that, even though your name will be on the card and I don’t even know her.” Etc., etc., etc.  Are you kidding me—I would fall down dead of surprise.

I realize some of you have red faces and steam coming out of your ears right now, because you are wanting to say “I DO MY SHARE AROUND HERE. I WORK TOO, and my work is just as valuable as his.” All right. No argument. But suppose you (like me) were married to a man who felt that there were two able-bodied adults in the house, so why should he carry the entire financial burden? Just imagine it for one second…a husband who believed  that whatever contributions you might make around the home would be far outweighed by those you could make as an employed financial contributor.

Please understand that I am not bashing my husband. When I think of “do unto others,” then I must consider how I would feel if HE wanted to stay home while I carried the entire load. I tried it once, by the way. We had two kids at home and I had a great, well-paying job, when his company shut down. He drew unemployment for a while, attended school, did the housework and had dinner cooked every night when I got home. My response to this was to have a literal nervous breakdown. The idea that four people were depending on me made every moment I spent at work somehow magnified in importance, leading to terrible stress. And despite the fact that my husband was keeping things up at home, I seethed with resentment over the free time he had and the relaxed pace he was living with. It wasn’t fair.

I am not proud of that, because he certainly did not treat me that way when I spent my year at home, but that’s just the difference in the sexes, I think. While I felt embarrassed to have an unemployed husband, he felt a certain amount of pride at having a wife at home. The thing is, he was not willing to pay, indefinitely, for that feeling. After a while, enough was enough, and he was more than happy to return to pitching in with the laundry and groceries and whatever else needed doing at home, in exchange for the salary I could earn.

If you are a stay-at-home wife and/or mother, then yes–of course what you are doing is valuable. But take a moment today to realize that you, too, could be married to a man who would consider a paycheck more valuable. The fact that you’re home is a gift from him to you. Be thankful.


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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. storiesofourboys
    Sep 20, 2014 @ 15:15:14

    I could not agree more–such a privilege–so much easier than trying to balance home+kids+career.


  2. Lynn
    Sep 21, 2014 @ 03:37:34

    Good reminder. It is hard for many people right now. I gave up a career to stay home with my kids. I was out of the paid work force for 20 years. So. Calif. Is still in a economic downturn. I have been working part-time to help out. It is a double-curse for women when they work. Period. Guilt and exhaustion, messy house. Neglected family. You are very blessed indeed if you can be a fulltime keeper at home!


  3. Adelaide
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 08:55:49

    This is a very hard hitting post! Thank you for being so prepared to speak much needed honest words! My husband works very hard… and I know he would love to have the gig I have… yet still appreciates everything I do. How could I ever be anything but overwhelmingly grateful!


  4. Shanti
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 12:28:33

    Thank you for this post. I am a SAHM whose husband values a paycheck more than any contribution I make in the home. I too will be returning to work soon and am dreading it. I think that people always feel the grass is greener on the other side, it is not.


  5. Laura Lane of Harvest Lane Cottage
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 13:43:04

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. We do need reminders sometimes.


  6. Leticia Justus
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 17:33:08

    It really made me re-think the blessings I have as a mother , wife , home school teacher ect…
    Thank you for your insight and heart felt words . I’m saving this one in my emails for when I need a reminder .


  7. Sweet-Water-and-Bitter
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 21:55:51

    I appreciate all of you ladies for visiting and reading. I was afraid I would make a lot of folks mad with this one.


  8. AmberRay
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 22:33:06

    We should be thankful to be home with our kids. We all have good and bad days though.I strive to work hard for my family to show my appreciation and gratitude, but I shouldn’t do so while complaining and being bitter about it. And I could not do it without my supportive husband. I don’t freely spend our money on everything I want. I try to stay within our budget for everything and strive to make things work and stretch. That being said each situation can find a way to be thankful. For one if we are in America and have the freedoms to choose to stay home or not that is one and also we don’t live at the moment where we have to choose between what child should eat today or how we are going to provide clean water and clothes for our household. Yes there are those that struggle but there is more help here than anywhere else. So I think either side can take things for granted and we must remember things could be worse for any of us. And either situation should not complain. If you want a different situation than we have an advocate with the father to pray for his will in any situation and perhaps our hearts desire will be granted and in the end he knows what is best.From a once single working mom of one to a married working mom of 3 and now a stay at home mom of 5 soon to be 6 children. Yah bless you!


  9. Brittany at
    Sep 23, 2014 @ 02:25:25

    Woah. You held nothing back here! I love it though. I do consider myself to be very, very fortunate to be able to stay at home. I’ve worked outside the house part-time, my husband has stayed home, I’ve stayed home and now I work from home. Honestly… the hardest one is the one that isn’t right for you. So, so, so thankful to have a husband that is so supportive and so determined to take care of us so I don’t *have* to. (I help because I want to)


  10. normaleverydaylifeblog
    Sep 25, 2014 @ 12:18:00

    I’m a SAHM and my husband travels a lot. Sometimes I get to feeling sorry for myself that he’s gone and I’m dealing with all the homework, sports, arguments, meltdowns, etc. But…I always come back to the fact that I’m so thankful to be at home and that I don’t have to go to work everyday. Your words are hard hitting and convicting and a great reminder. #katherinescorner


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