Stay at Home Mom Struggles: Sometimes Stay-at-Home Motherhood Feels Like Death by 1,000 Papercuts

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I’m in a hard season as a stay-at-home mom.

The thing is, there’s no one specific issue that’s making it particularly hard. There’s no looming physical illness, no pressing financial stress, no urgent marital crisis.

The “hard” is more the sum of 1,000 little things.

More often than not, by dinner time each day, I feel completely spent. Not just tired — but completely exhausted. Wiped. Tapped out. Like I can’t take one more minute of these stay-at-home-mom struggles.

When I try to explain to my husband why I feel this way, I feel a little ridiculous.

“The toddler peed on the couch.”

I mean really, is that so bad? A little pee on an old, crappy, discount couch?

But that one-liner doesn’t really tell the whole story.

Stay at home motherhood is both a blessing and a struggle. SAHMs handle all the meals, discipline, and kids activities, but they may also feel isolated, depressed, and guilt for feeling this way or not working. If you are a stay at home mom and struggle with some of these feelings, be encouraged: You're not alone and stay at home motherhood IS hard -- but mama, it's also worth it! #motherhood #sahm #stayathomemom #encouragement #thewildwest3.
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Stay at Home Mom Struggles are Rarely Just One Thing

It’s that the pee on the couch came after I had dropped everything and rushed said toddler to the bathroom six times in a row, at his insistence that he needed to, “GO POTTY!!!” It’s that all six of those potty-trips yielded nothing.

It’s that, while I was taking him to the potty, one of my other kids accidentally spilled a glass of milk. It’s that the glass of milk spilled onto the dog and was now all in her fur. It’s that, while I attempted to clean up the spill and the dog’s fur, the toddler peed on the couch.

It’s that the pee isn’t on an easily cleanable cushion, but all over the base of the couch itself, because my kids, after being specifically told not to, had taken the cushions off the couch just a few minutes prior to said couch-peeing.

It’s that all of this took place right when we should’ve been leaving to pick up one of my other kids from school, so I had to race like Cruella De Vil to make it on time, with my car full of half-dressed, pee-and-milk-soaked children.

via GIPHY

It’s that all of this caused me to lose my temper a lot when my kids only deserved it a little.

It’s that, out of a twelve-hour-day staying here at home, all of these events took less than fifteen minutes to transpire, leaving countless hours remaining for new, mind-numbingly frustrating shenanigans to evolve.

Finally, it’s that all of this takes place on an empty tank — when I’ve already fed everyone, clothed everyone, refereed umpteen fights between everyone.  I’ve already divvied up chores, packed school bags, and signed school folders. Plus, I’m already too-many-years-deep into a sleep-deprived existence.

It’s almost laughable.

Almost.

I’m sure one day, I’ll be able to look back and chuckle at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. One day, I’ll be nostalgic for these insane days as a stay at home mom with my kids, when I was their whole world.

But today? Today, being their whole world feels a little bit like death by 1,000 papercuts. No one little thing is too much, but all of it combined feels like it might finally overwhelm me, like the day-to-day stay at home mom struggles might finally do me in.

I know there are people out there with real problems –people walking through incredibly difficult seasons with impossible choices. That’s not lost on me.

I also know there are women working who wish they could stay home with their kids. That’s not lost on me either.

Finally, I know there are women out there who desperately wish for the chance to even be a mother. My heart aches for them.

And yet, here I am, barely keeping my head above water.

Every night, when the kids are finally asleep and I can breathe again, I look at their precious little faces. I stroke their hair and kiss their cheeks. I tell myself that tomorrow is going to be different. Tomorrow is going to be better. They’ll do better. I’ll do better.

And sometimes that’s true. We’ll have a good day, or even several in a row. I’ll think, “Yes, I’m finally getting the hang of being a stay at home mom! We’re all going to make it.”

But then we have another couch-peeing-day and I’m back to fantasy-Googling full-time child care options nearby.

I’m not sure when parenting gets easier, and maybe it never does, but I’m holding out hope that there are days coming, soon, that won’t feel as long.

I don’t know if I can take too many more days like this. Neither can our couch.

Update: This post went a little wild when it was picked up on the Facebook pages for Today Parents, The Today Show, & Kathie Lee & Hoda. It really seemed to resonate with many, as it was shared a few thousand times, but a few seemed to misinterpret my message. If you’re interested in reading my response to the hundreds (thousands?) of commenters, it’s here:  “Everyone’s Entitled to a Hard Day, Except for Moms, Who Should Shut Up & Be Grateful.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

I’m Done Justifying What I Do All Day as a Stay at Home Mom

Deciding to Become a Stay at Home Mom. Only.

How Not To Be A Hot Mess When Your Spouse Gets Home

Dear Husband–I’m So Grateful for Your Job (Even When It Doesn’t Seem Like It)

 

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21 thoughts on “Stay at Home Mom Struggles: Sometimes Stay-at-Home Motherhood Feels Like Death by 1,000 Papercuts”

    1. Hahahaha I’m SO glad this resonated with you. I wish I could give you a fist bump emoji (that’s probably my second-most used emoji), but I don’t think this software will let me.

      I’ll just say this instead: Solidarity, new BFF!
      Charissa

  1. Studies show if you are a good parent 30% of the day, you will have a well adjusted adult. Some days are 30%, some days are 80% and very few are 100%. BUT we are moms and we try again! Just give yourself a pep talk, “It’s going to be a 30% day and that’s okay. They will come out normal and I will survive!”

    1. Hi Janice,

      I LOVE this and find that statistic/breakdown very encouraging. Haha, we had a couple of 30%-stomach-virus-days recently, but you’re right, there were a lot of 80-100% days before and after.

      Thanks so much for this!
      Charissa

  2. This so completely captures the double edged sword (or pee covered couch) that is stay at home motherhood. I’m totally in the Cruella De Vil school run mode with you- by the time my oldest is dropped at school most mornings I feel like I’ve done a bobsled run, but without the sled.

    1. Hi Katie,

      I’m so glad you could relate to this. Being a SAHM, things definitely run both ways. I mean, yes, it’s a blessing and I’m grateful, but also, yes, there’s kind of a lot of couch-pee haha.

      RE: Cruella, I actually reeeeeally needed to get my hair done lately, so on top of the rushing around like a mad woman, I also had a bad roots situation. It’s a good thing my hair’s not black and white or I would have REALLY looked like Cruella!

      Charissa

  3. This made me laugh out loud. You’re not alone, girl! We’ve all been there. Hang in there and share your anecdotes. It’s therapeutic : )

    1. Hi Samara,

      I’m so glad this could give you a chuckle. I’ll be honest, now that it’s been a month, I also can laugh at the couch-pee-dog-milk-sh*t-show that was our house at the time.

      I agree — sharing the shenanigans definitely helps you cry less and laugh more!

      Charissa

      1. I’m a working mom. I don’t know how you (or my babysitter) does it! The 3 to 4 hours after work before Dad comes home almost KILLS me, as a mom of 3 boys. I try to be gentle on myself. I’m in healthcare, so these last 3 months have been even worse! My poor babies were attached to the screen while I came home, showered the virus off and tried to chill out for a few moments. Of course, we love being Mom, we love our babies, but every once in awhile, I wish my toddler threw his book at his father!! (He has a good arm! Ouch!)

  4. You nailed this. This is exactly why mothers are so exhausted all the time. I often think that because others have it harder than me that I can’t let those feelings out. But it’s so important that we do! Thank you for this 🙂

    1. Hi Katie,

      Thank you so much! I’m really glad you could relate to this.

      I think people mistakenly feel like, if you say you had a hard day or something is tough for you, that you think your situation is the hardest. TODAY picked up this article, and a lot of the response comments were like that. The fact is, a mom can have a tough day (or tough series of days) and still be incredibly grateful for her family.

      Charissa

      1. This gave me a little pick me up as I’m reading it holding my 9 month old for the 100th time bc he keeps waking up. I needed this for sure , you did nail it, thank you for explaining so clearly

        1. Hi Mari,

          Oh I’m so glad this post could give you a lift. I totally understand. You can be grateful and love that little dude to pieces, but nobody relishes getting up a million times a night and functioning on fumes of sleep. Anyone who claims otherwise is just a liar! Hang in there –and I hope you can get some good quality sleep soon!

          Charissa

  5. Oh, I remember those days! They are full of bliss and also 1000 paper cuts. You just never know which way the day will go, and usually, it is some of both.

    1. Hi Beth,

      I’m so glad you could relate to this. I agree — it’s definitely a combination of both and a complete crapshoot from day-to-day. The good far outweighs the bad, but some seasons are just hard. Thanks so much for reading!

      Charissa

  6. I’m not a mom, but I’ve taken care of enough kids to truly applaud stay at home moms. I think I’d be going crazy too, even if nothing HUGE or disastrous is happening. It just becomes a lot after awhile – little things really do add up. But yes, I think you’ll look back with a lot of fondness, so here’s to more good days than bad!

    -Lauren

    1. Thank you for this! I sat in my truck in my pj’s, crying after dropping my kids off at school. Not wanting to go in my house , because I’m drowning in chores. Overwhelmed with life. I get everything you said. I so hear you. It’s nice to know I’m not alone

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      I’m glad you could relate to this post, but I’m sorry you also have been having a rough go of it! Being a mom is rough, no doubt about it. Sending you hugs and hoping that both of us have an easy day (followed by an easy day, followed by an easy day) soon!

      Thanks for reading!
      Charissa

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