Mom’s emotional post about stay-at-home parenthood is tough to read, but it’s also true
It’s not every day you see a mom crying on Facebook over how hard it is to stay home with her children. By society’s standards, stay-at-home parents aren’t supposed to be stressed. They’re supposed to keep the house tidy, plan tons of fun activities and lovingly dote on their babies all day long. That’s not reality for one Minnesota mom named Bridgette Anne. The mom of one recently opened up on Facebook about the hardest, loneliest and ugliest parts of stay-at-home parenthood, and her honest post has sparked strong feelings among other parents.
“Everyone thinks being a stay at home mom full time is easy,” Bridgette Anne writes. “That we are lucky to be able to not have to work. That we are lazy. That it’s not ‘real’ work so we have nothing to complain about. But the truth is it’s f**king lonely and overwhelming.”
The mom runs down a list of child care woes that will look all too familiar to other parents: You can’t drink a cup of coffee or even go to the bathroom alone, you’re expected to fill the day with constant entertainment and you end up looking like a dishevelled mess because you can never take a break.
But the hardest part — the part Bridgette Anne says no one talks about — is the sense of isolation some stay-at-home parents feel. “You forget what it means or feels like to be an individual because your entire existence revolves around that child,” she writes. “You look at working moms and get jealous because you wish you could have an excuse to have an adult conversation without being interrupted. You lock yourself in the bathroom and scream into a towel while crying because you need a second to breathe; all while a child is banging on the door to get in …”
The post includes a photo of Bridgette Anne crying, her gray T-shirt soaked with tears. “I was one of those people who judged SAHMs,” she writes. “But I get it now … My house isn’t clean, I’m not clean, the dishes aren’t done, I have screamed already today, I have cried, and I have felt so damn guilty that my child was here to witness it. But I am alone … and I am lonely.”
The post has been shared over 64,000 times and has resonated with so many other stay-at-home moms and dads who know exactly how Bridgette Anne feels. “I agree with you 100%,” one mom writes. “I love being home with my daughter and I love being able to see her learn new things. But it is very lonely and it’s hard. I’m working 24/7 and feel like if I ask for help I’m a failure. So instead I just push through and hope I don’t lose my mind.”
But not all of the reactions have been positive. Many people are criticizing Bridgette Anne’s parenting and leaving comments telling her to “suck it up.”
“I don't understand what the issue is. Kids do not ask to be brought into this world,” one mom writes. “ … I have 3 of my own and have been a stay-at-home mom for years. I sacrificed a well paying job to ensure that my kids had someone present 24/7. Not all days are easy, But to sit and complain that your house is a mess, that you're stressed or tired or overwhelmed, that was the decision you chose when you had kids. If everything is so overwhelming, go get a job and pay for daycare, there's plenty of options.”
The post has also ignited some ugly battles over who has it worse: working parents or stay-at-home parents.
“Girl, I'd kill to be a stay home parent,” one parent writes. “Work is a hell of a lot more stressful. Your kids ain't going to fire you if you're not making your goal. Your boss will. You get to see your kids all day, play with them, watch them grow, etc. That's absolutely great. You should be damn thankful for that. Most people do not have that luxury.”
The mom-shaming comments only highlight the exact sense of isolation Bridgette Anne talks about in her post. Stay-at-home parents are often seen as privileged when, in fact, around 25% of moms are forced to leave the workforce because they can’t afford to pay for child care. And because so many people see stay-at-home parents as privileged or “lazy,” they also overlook the fact that providing full-time child care — even for your own children — is hard work.
Stay-at-home parents are doing everything that child care professionals get paid to do: feeding, diapering, entertaining, teaching, cleaning and being expected to be “on” 24 hours a day. According to a 2014 Pew Research study, stay-at-home moms spend 18 hours per week doing child care activities and about 23 hours a week on housework. That’s a lot of work for one person, especially when it seems like other adults don’t understand or appreciate what you do.
Acknowledging the work of stay-at-home parents doesn’t cancel out the fact that working parents are struggling, too. According to the same Pew Research data, working moms still spend about 11 weekly hours on child care and 14 hours on housework. The U.S. is also the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate paid maternity or paternity leave, and more than 40% of families spend at least 15% of their income on child care.
The truth is every parent has it rough. Every parent knows what it’s like to feel exhausted and overworked. Every parent knows what it’s like to worry they aren’t doing enough for their kids. Bridgette Anne is shedding light on a raw truth that so many parents can relate to, and her post is a reminder that the one thing every mom and dad could use more of is support.