The Secret Life of a Stay-at-Home Mom

by Christine Clark

During a recent visit to my local food store, I ran into an acquaintance whom I had not seen for several years. While we chatted in the produce section, I learned that she had just recently received a promotion at her company and she and her husband were planning a trip to Aruba, leaving their kids with a sitter for a week. The last time we saw each other, I was a mom to a young son and worked as a secretary for a law firm. She was thrilled to learn of our latest addition - another son - and was eager to hear what I had been up to since we last spoke.

"Well, I have been home with the kids for several years now, " I explained.

"Home? " she replied, a bit perplexed. "Wow! A big step - giving up all that you have worked for all these years to stay home. But you must love the free time you have."

Her reply stayed with me for days after our chance meeting. I should be used to this type of response by now, but I am not. Most people I have come into contact with, when learning that I am a stay-at-home Mom, react in the same way. The idea that mothers who stay home with their children are, in effect, Oprah-watching homeroom moms whose day consists solely of baking cookies and taking care of their families, is, unfortunately, a common one. 
 
Although I am guilty of catching a few of Oprah's shows now and then, my day is not nearly as easy as most would like to believe. I am a freelance writer and web site host, struggling on a daily basis to balance career and family. The job is not an easy one. My Editor doesn't care that my article is late because someone jammed an Oreo cookie in the printer. Calling clients while your twelve year old is in the background screaming that his little brother wiped a booger on him is not suitable for those with a history of high blood pressure. In addition to my writing, which I must work at twice as hard in order to make even a third of what I once earned when I was a "working mom" (a  term used facetiously, as in "whoever thinks that this isn't work should have their head examined"), I am expected to cook, clean and raise two active boys. All with a smile on my face. Lawn maintenance, basketball practices, pest control and certain home repairs fall under my job description, as my husband works extra hours at his place of employment so that I may be home with our children. 

As for all that free time I supposedly possess, I haven't had my nails and hair done in ages, due to the fact that a busy beauty salon and an adventurous toddler do not mix. Five minutes in the shower without someone bursting in to ask me where we keep the can of Raid is considered time alone. Quality time with my husband usually means doing the dinner dishes together (he washes, I dry) before one or both of us fall asleep watching "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". And before you ask, I can't baby-sit your sick kid because I am probably dragging one or both of my own to the pediatrician's to get a shot or to have some type of foreign object removed from their body.

It's tough being a stay-at-home mom. But I think it would be even tougher to be away from my kids all day and miss sharing that time with them. I am grateful for the opportunity to lay on the grass with my three year old and listen as he tells me what each cloud resembles. I look forward to my oldest son getting home from school each day and am anxious to hear about the ups and downs of being in sixth grade. I am there for my boys when a boo boo needs to be kissed, when they need someone who is handy at filling up the water balloons, or just for a hug in the middle of the day.

To some it may seem that I have given up a lot - career, money, a sense of myself. But the way I see it, my job is to raise these two boys the best way I know how. No amount of money in the world can make up for the time I am spending with them now while they are young. I haven't given up a thing. I have received more from this than I could have ever imagined. 

Christine Clark is a Freelance Writer and a Mom to two boys. She is the editor of The Sons Site at Bella Online (www.bellaonline.com/family/sons.html).