Reader Jealous of Husband writes:
I'm a SAHM of 1 and refuse to have more kids because I would be practically be a single mom for any more kids due to my husband's schedule/career and don't want to sign myself up for the same mess I've been dealing with since I've been a mom. I gave up my wee beginnings of a career a few years ago to make sure one parent was there for our daughter because the husband works crazy hours and travels a lot. I left a crazy job that took too much time away from my then infant in hopes of finding something less stressful and it never worked out.
He has had great success at work and I've always felt like I was left behind and not given the same opportunity to achieve success because I always had to quit my job or come home early when baby was sick or be the annoying clock watching employee so that my daycare providers didn't charge me crazy late fines. He travels to fun places for conferences and sometimes not so fun places but either way he doesn't have to deal w all the crap that goes on with raising a kid. He gets the alone time with his own thoughts.
Some friends think I'm just being petty to a husband who is "working so hard to pay for me to stay home." Sure I see that but I'm not living like Mariah Carey over here or something either. Because finances are always tighter when both parents aren't working, I don't get to go enroll in gym/Fun classes and he is never home in time for me to make it to preplanned mom night out events or zumba which leads to more anger and disappointment on my end.
I enjoy staying home with my toddler. I've been out of the work force so long and am not sure how I feel about going back to work for minimum wage at this point with a college degree. The earnings in the past only covered babysitting so there was still no money leftover for fun for myself. I often feel serious jealousy of the holiday parties, work fancy dinners, time away from home and ability to go to gym during lunch etc while I literally am pulling my hair out by the end of each day because kids are nutty. What should I do?
I hear you, sister. I never get to do a damn thing either, since I work as a therapist and then I write in every other spare moment, based around nap schedules since my kids are only in preschool part time and with me the rest of the long, long day. I feel that the hours I work are much easier than the hours I'm at home, especially with multiple kids. When I'm just with one kid, it now feels easy, but when I used to have one, that seemed difficult, so I empathize with you on that front too. However, while my kids are young, I am trying to embrace having a less exciting career with less time away from the home, since it's my choice to set up my life this way, and I have found lots of ways to make this more palatable.
So, let's discuss the myriad ways to make your life as a SAHM a lot better (read that, because that reader asked a similar question to you). Incidentally, you're not doing any of them, which explains why you're upset and idealizing your husband's awesome work life.
Here are things to do immediately:
1. Join Meetup.com and join every group with the word "mom" in it in your area. Right now, then come back to this article.
2. Every time you see another kid your kid's age at the playground, strike up a conversation and try to wrangle a phone number. (This helps your kids too.)
3. Tell your husband you would really like to have a budget of $50 per week for a babysitter. See if you two can figure out how to make this work. Cut down on anything extra in order to make this happen. If he is really flying all around to conferences and the like, I bet he can swing it. You will use this money for five hours of $10/hour sitting from someone you will find from the ads you're going to write on Sittercity and Care.com. Now you can go to Zumba and Mom's Night Out every week, because you won't need him to be home. The sitter will come those nights and you won't have to cancel anymore.
4. Start running, which is a free way to stay in shape. Then, join some running groups. At the risk of sounding repetitive, join Stroller Strides like I did, so you can stay in shape have somewhere to go every day, and meet lots of other nice moms. If you have the money for Zumba you have money for this, it's pretty cheap.
5. Think about why you're so jealous of your husband rather than focused on improving your own lot. Do you feel loved, heard, understood by your husband? Is it a good marriage otherwise? Did you possibly see a similar dynamic to the one you're in now in your own family growing up? Read about imago theory here. If you always saw one parent who acted like a martyr and one who seemed to do whatever s/he wanted, then that is a familiar pattern to you, and one which you're unconsciously replicating. As you're aware from interacting with your friends, there are multiple ways to perceive your situation, a common one being "I'm lucky I get to stay home with my daughter and my husband is working hard for us," and it is interesting why you picked the interpretation you did. Looking back to the marriage you saw growing up would be very helpful.
I hope that some of these tips help you find more happiness as a SAHM. In only a few short years, your daughter will be in school and you can turn your focus on figuring out what career you want. Maybe you can go back to school, or whatever else appeals to you. But for now, try to enjoy the life you're in, and introspect about why it's been difficult for you to do that thus far. Good luck, and until we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Also Thinks Work Conferences Sound Awesome.
Learn about Dr. Rodman's private practice, including therapy, coaching, and consultation, here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.