Family life

If being a SAHM is so great, why am I unhappy?

Amid the noise and chaos of raising two young children, Jennifer questions her decision to stay at home.

By Jennifer Pinarski
If being a SAHM is so great, why am I unhappy?

The kiddos helping me blow out my birthday candles last month: Awesome things about being a SAHM.

First off, an apology for how quiet Run-at-home Mom has been the last week. It’s not that our family hasn’t been busy, or that I haven’t been running or cycling. We’ve had trips to the zoo, a water park and Isaac had his first sleepover and his first week of daycamp. I’ve ridden and run over 200K and even started a fitness bootcamp. With so much going on, coming up with new stories to blog about should have been easy. But each night when I sat down to blog the only thing I wanted to write was: This stay-at-home mom gig sucks. 
Have you ever done a Google seach for "being a SAHM sucks"? I just did and there were more than 409,000 results in less than a second. That means I’m not alone in how isolating and frustrating being a stay-at-home mom is, so why do I feel like I’m the most miserable mom in the world? Why can’t I just be happy, doing what most working moms and dads would love the opportunity to do? 
The theory is that stay-at-home parents have the best jobs in the world — no corporate boss to answer to and the simple pleasure of watching your children grow up. Somewhere in the last two years I’ve lost that vision because, honestly, the last few weeks I’ve been a real jerk to my family. I resented other working moms and was jealous of the stay-at-home parents who seemed to find joy in all of the little things their kids were doing. Cleaning, laundry, cooking and blogging all took the back burner because I just couldn’t seem to break out of the negative headspace I was in. I would wake up each morning dreading the day ahead — suffocated by the choice I made to quit my job in the city, move to a small town to raise my kids in an itty-bitty cottage in the woods. Each night I’d go to bed wondering what was wrong with me, wishing there was a recovery program for burned out stay-at-home moms.
My reality check came when heading out the door to spend the day at a water park with a group of wonderful moms and their kids. I rushed them through their morning routine, growling at them to move faster. On the 90-minute drive, the kids filled the silence in our car with silly songs (our radio broke last week). Instead of singing along I kept asking them to be quiet. Sadly, at one point I yelled at them to shut up. And then we were all crying: Me for again being unreasonably rude, and my kids, wondering what they did wrong to deserve being shouted at. All on a day that was supposed to be fun. Luckily we all were able to shake off the sour morning and have a great day. 
I think at the heart of my problem is that I take no time during the day to sit with my kids and enjoy them. I fill my days outside of the house with playdates and errands (to give my work-at-home husband peace and quiet) all of which get done half-heartedly because all I can think about is the amount of work still left to do. Like on our day trip to the water park, all I thought about were the mountains of laundry at home and the bills that I’d forgotten to pay — not the fact that on one of the nicest days of the year, I had the gift of spending it with my perfect and healthy, lovely children and my friends.  

I’m not sure how to move forward, to teach myself to slow down and cuddle and tickle more often. To ignore the dirty clothes and delegate household chores. All I know is that by throwing myself 100 percent into raising a family, I lost sight of the big picture — that the most important thing is that we are ALL happy — not just the kids and my husband, but myself too. 

Have you experienced similar feelings?
This article was originally published on Jul 31, 2012

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