Lesbianing with AE! The Stay-at-Home Mom Blues

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Today Lindsey answers a reader question about being a stay-at-home mom. 

Hey Lindsey,

I’ve been a big fan of After Ellen for like forever and finally have an important advice question – here it goes:

It was always a dream of mine to have a baby and the little guy arrived about nine months ago. It was just an amazing experience for my wife and I. My wife Emily is the love of my life, she is beautiful, fun, and an amazing ER doctor. Due to her high income, we always agreed I would stay home with the baby and she would keep working. This seemed like a great idea during the pregnancy and the early days, but now I am starting to regret this decision.

It seems the dynamics have changed in the relationship and I am much more dependent on her for pretty much everything. Sure, we have a joint bank account, but she is bringing in the money. I did not make all that much as a new teacher before, but still, it made me feel like I was contributing to the household budget.

And then my day goes by pretty slowly and I find myself eagerly waiting for Emily to get home each evening. I have plenty of activities during the day, but I just get really eager to see her and want to spend every minute with her. I even try to “freshen up” before she gets home and I feel kinda silly for doing that. It is almost like I am getting insecure being “only a mom” and getting jealous of her world outside the home. And then there is our sex life. This insecurity is making me even more focused on her. We have always had a bit of a top and bottom relationship, with me being the follower and Emily being the leader and I like that, but my insecurity is driving me batty and I dare say Emily is taking advantage of it in bed.

Am I overreacting? I know a lot of moms would love to be in my position with a loving wife, comfortable house and no need to work, but my insecurity is driving me nuts.

Taylor 🙂

Hey Taylor,

I’m honored to receive your important Q! Here goes:

You thought you knew where life was taking you (a loving wife, a baby on the way), but life throws us all some surprises and you’re surprised to find that you don’t think being a stay-at-home mom is super rewarding. Actually, it’s boring and you miss leaving the house without spit-up on your t-shirt and, you know, having a conversation with someone who can talk back to you.

And all of that is totally normal and I applaud you for being honest and open about it. It’s pretty taboo in our society to say you don’t love every aspect of motherhood (nevermind feeling ambivalent or actively disliking it), which just leads to people like you feeling guilty.

I assume the decision for you to be a full-time caregiver was a joint decision and one that you entered into with excitement. Even so, it isn’t making you happy. You’ve got a couple options, one being to cope with it the best you can until your child is a little older and a bit more exciting to be around—and see if you find stay-at-home motherhood more rewarding then.

Your second option is to tell Emily that you miss working. You miss being around adults, you miss contributing to the income stream, you miss being involved in a career that you chose and received expensive education for, and on top of all that, you don’t think being a full-time mom is your jam.

Ideally, Emily will listen to you and she’ll say some variant of “Great, I support you, why don’t we search for a nanny so that you can use 100 percent of your income to pay her to provide childcare, or maybe you’d enjoy signing up to substitute teach and then on the days you have a teaching gig my Aunt Wendy can watch the baby? I love you and we’ll figure this out together.”

Childcare is fucking insanely expensive. But you don’t stop being an independent person when you have a kid and you can weigh the options and decide if you’d rather go back to work. If you would be a better parent when you have a life outside of parenting. If you would be happier and healthier and a better wife.

Childcare is fucking insanely expensive. But you don’t stop being an independent person when you have a kid and you can weigh the options and decide if you’d rather go back to work. If you would be a better parent when you have a life outside of parenting. If you would be happier and healthier and a better wife.

You’re comparing yourself to other mothers and feeling blue about the way you’re feeling, and those habits aren’t going to help you. People feel all kinds of ways about being a stay at-home mother. There’s no one right way. You’re not a better parent if you stay home with the kids than if you have a career. You’re not a bad mom for realizing you miss the things you’ve given up to raise your kid. Knowing what you know, you get to re-examine the choices you made freed from the burden of feeling guilty.

Right now it sounds like you’re torn between living for Emily (with the preening for her arrival home) and living for your baby, who has a major pile of needs. But what would it look like if you were living for yourself, and making decisions that fulfilled your needs first?

Right now it sounds like you’re torn between living for Emily (with the preening for her arrival home) and living for your baby, who has a major pile of needs. But what would it look like if you were living for yourself, and making decisions that fulfilled your needs first?

You can’t be a great caretaker when you’re not giving to your soul because you’re taking care of everyone else first. That’s how you burn out. That’s how you wake up in two years or ten years pissed off at the world; that’s how you chuck your life away and move to Bali to figure things out for a while. You need something in your life that fills your cup, so you can be a great wife and mom.

Think on this stuff a while. It’s not like you can start teaching tomorrow, so you can make a game plan over the next, say, four months.

If you decide to stick out the stay-at-home thing whether it’s for six months or until preschool begins, find ways to get unstuck. You might:

• Go to mommy and me events

• Visit the library for storytelling

• Connect with other moms near you through online and offline events

• See your friends who are self-employed/between jobs/visiting from another state

• Fit in a workout when your wee one is napping … or, take your own nap and read a book

• Make Emily watch the baby one or two nights a week so you can leave the house and do something you used to enjoy

• Hire a sitter so you two can have a date outside the house

Probably your wife is super happy because she has everything she wants out of life, and she might be surprised you’re not in new-baby bliss too. But if Emily doesn’t assent to your getting off the stay-at-home parent bandwagon? You’ve learned a bunch of new information about her values in and out of the bedroom and her vision of your relationship for the next, oh, eighteen years, and you can talk about what you want, what she wants, and what middle ground everyone can live with.

Ultimately, this will pass. Your child will grow up and go to school, and even if you spend the first 5 years of her life as a stay-at-home mom, you can then go back to work. Or you’ll stop feeling insecure about your status change and enjoy the freedom to do what you want, when you want, baby in tow. I encourage you to continue to explore the options aloud with your wife and try to remain open about the future. You can still do a great many things, even if right now your role is limited.

Do you have a question for Lindsey? Don’t be shy! Write to the editor at memoree@afterellen.com with “Q for Lindsey” in the subject line, and see your question answered in a future post. 

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