I remember counting down the weeks to the birth of my first child. I always knew that if and when I had kids, I would become a stay-at-home mom. I expected my departure from the career world to be freeing.
There would be no more rushing out of the house in the morning. No more rushing to meet deadlines. No more rushing home in the evening just to prepare for the whole process to start over again the next day. There would be an ease to life that I hadn’t experienced since childhood.
But then the baby came.
I soon found myself bound by feeding schedules and sleeping schedules. Leaving the house felt next to impossible as it required an enormous amount of planning. A simple trip to the grocery store was only accessible between each of the eight to twelve feedings that took place every day. And factor in another two to three naps, and well, there was hardly an ideal time to go anywhere.
And when I did manage to break out of the house for the sake of completing errands, I still found myself rushing.
I rushed through the store before the baby needed to eat again, or started crying, or pooped, which would inevitably lead to a whole other level of rushing while changing a dirty diaper in a public bathroom. And then I rushed home before the baby fell asleep in the car, which would undoubtedly result in a missed nap and hours of crying.
There was no going anywhere or doing anything that didn’t require McGuyver-like skill.
There was a stroller to haul and fumble around with in a busy parking lot. There was a baby carrier complete with 67 straps that were somehow supposed to intertwine and keep my baby snug and comfortable against my chest. And there was the carseat that required Herculean strength to install and haul to and from the car.
The freedom I had imagined was non-existent.
I was never alone and each task I attempted to complete was interrupted by a baby who needed something.
There was no doubt in my mind that having the choice to stay home with my child was a privilege. Not everyone had that choice and I knew many woman who wished they did. But that didn’t take away the feeling that I was in some kind of prison.
Over the years, a few things have changed since those early days of motherhood, but the feeling of entrapment is still there.
The kids are getting older and slightly more independent in the midst of the nap schedules and now, school schedules. And these are welcome changes. But while certain aspects of this stay-at-home mom gig have gotten easier, there are many days in which I continue to feel stuck, imprisoned.
After 7 years, I still find myself reminiscing about using the office bathroom without an audience.
Or completing a task without interruption. Or going out to lunch without having to plan it weeks, even months in advance.
I miss the freedom of working for a full 8 hours without my kids begging for snacks, or interrupting every thought, or repeatedly asking me what I’m doing. I miss the adult conversation and stimulation that came from reading something other than Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo or writing something other than the ABC’s.
There are so many things about working outside the home that I miss. And yet, I am thankful that I haven’t yet had to miss my children. Being with them day after day is a privilege, yes. But I still desire to be free.