This isn’t going to be what you think it is. Coming from a 22 year old with no children, this might not mean a ton to you. But I wanted to apologize to you on behalf of other women (people)
my age who don’t have kids. Let me tell you a couple stories, first.
I was a nanny for a short time. Thank goodness that was only a 10 week period. I have many friends who nanny, and I envy them because of their experience. They work for amazing families who love their kids and who love them. The family I worked for had some unfortunate circumstances, and I saw the effect it had on the kids. The mom was going through a difficult time, but she was usually a SAHM. She didn’t enforce discipline with her children, she never followed through with her word. She just yelled. I tried my best to give consistency to those children. And it was a constant struggle to help them see consistency. I only got a glimpse of what it was like to be responsible for tiny humans.
It’s one of the most difficult jobs I’ve ever had. Ever. I was responsible to keep them entertained. Which was odd, because they had a house full of toys and things to keep their attention away from the TV. I felt bad when I would sit on my phone and only half listen to what they were saying to me, but dang, I just wanted a breather every once in a while. It was one of the most emotionally draining summers of my life. I decided I could do without watching other people’s kids for a while.
That was the summer before my sophomore year of college. Then I took Intro to Journalism with one of the coolest professors ever. Who happens to be one of my best friend’s older brothers. That semester, I did family pictures for him and his wife and absolutely fell in love with their two kids. I told them if they ever needed a babysitter, they were more than welcome to call me. It took about a year, but one day they finally ran out of reserve babysitters and they gave me a call. They needed me to get to their house at 7am, but I was just so excited to hang out with their kids for a day, I didn’t have a problem with it.
I got to the house and both kids were still asleep. I dozed off for about 30 minutes, but when I woke up I saw that sweet R had gotten little E cereal and had turned on cartoons for them to watch. But little E wasn’t paying attention, he was singing to me. He actually sang to me all day. It was the best. I cherish that day so much.
The day was a breeze. They were the simplest children to babysit. They didn’t really fight with each other, they completely loved each other. They drew with chalk in the driveway, rode scooters around the street, played with toy cars, shot some hoops, and went and played in the sand on the sand volleyball courts. I only kept my phone out to record video of the hilarious things they said. They kept me entertained far more than I did for them. And my soul was so refreshed to spend a day with them. I can only credit that to their incredible stay at home mama.
SAHMs get a lot of flack from women like me who don’t have babies of their own. I hate it. We don’t really get to see the difference between children who need to be entertained vs the ones who are self sufficient. I saw the result of two very different SAHMs. They get very little time to themselves. They are responsible for their children. They just execute things differently.
I was lucky to have a mom who stayed home with my brother and I. She taught us to be self entertainers rather than make us the kind of kids who needed constant supervision. Granted, it was the 90s. Technology wasn’t quite what it is now.
I’m sure there were still things that she did while we played that would make other women say, “ugh put that down and play with your children! You won’t have these years forever! They’re only young once!”
Hopefully I can speak for all the people without kids who feel the same as me: SAHMs, I’m sorry you have to hear those words as often as you do.
My experience doesn’t even begin to compare to what yours is, but I’ve seen the results of your labors. I can’t imagine being a parent right now. You’ve got an incredibly hard job, and I applaud you for taking it on. I want to be one of the voices that tells you that I believe you’re doing your best for your babies. You know them better than anyone. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.