I’m a crier, I admit it. I’m tough, physically, but don’t approach my heart with anything sad or accusatory. I try to hide it behind anger and fake happiness. I cope with it by making jokes, exercise, and, yes, food. I’m hardest on myself, which doesn’t help alleviate my cry sessions.

Like many, I’ve held several jobs throughout my life, starting with babysitting in junior high. I’ve had several tough bosses, even some downright mean ones. I’ve put up with angry and unsatisfied customers, dealt with technology malfunctions and needing to start over on major projects, hurtful and untrue accusations toward me, and, as a counselor, have heard some of the saddest stories you can imagine.

But I’ve never cried as much at a job as I do in my current one: being a stay-at-home mom.

My current “bosses” are unrelenting. The hours are merciless and I’m on-call 24/7. Others expect my house to be clean but no one will help, and cleaning up after others takes time. It also takes creativity because while I’m cleaning one area, the kids or my husband are destroying another. I hate having a dirty, unorganized house. It doesn’t help that we moved six months ago—so many things that weren’t essential are still packed. Having a messy house adds stress.

I cry because I CANNOT keep up.

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My “adult” conversations consist of talking to myself and I’ll admit, it isn’t usually very positive self-talk. I’m expected to entertain my kids but without technology, because if heaven forbid, I mention letting them watch TV, I get “the look” from other parents. Sorry, TV is about the only time I don’t have fighting children. Speaking of which, I’m expected to referee and when my husband arrives home, he doesn’t understand why I’m not calmer and handling fights with grace and patience.

I cry because I’m not the “perfect” parent.

Time off is a laughing matter. My “time off” consists of driving to meetings for a company for which I do online work from home, and that’s only once a quarter. Vacation time only exists if they go to visit grandparents, and they rarely all go at once. Holidays are MORE work, not time off, and they can take months of preparation—cleaning, meal planning, re-cleaning, shopping, re-cleaning.

I cry because I’m stressed.

The list could go on and on. Here’s the kicker: pay. Being a SAHM pays nothing in monetary value, and I like an external reward. Did you know there are some countries who ask—yes, ASK—parents to stay home for a year after the birth of a child? The parent gets half pay from his/her job during this year. I’m guessing this removes a lot of stress. I know my biggest fear is our financial situation. We are pretty thrifty, but there are things that have to be paid like bills, groceries, etc. Living off one income can make that tricky. It doesn’t help my sanity that the house we bought, which passed TWO inspections, has major electrical wiring problems, just needed the well pump replaced, the dishwasher died, water pressure is decreasing, and there are burrs all over the yard (so I can’t even send my kids outside without needing to remove burrs from their clothing or skin).

I cry because everything takes money.

My youngest daughter, despite her older siblings being very verbal at her age, is a screamer. I cry over this. I cry because I’m a screamer and I’m sure she learned it from me. I cry because when I scream, she cries in fear, as do her siblings. I cry because I have a Master’s degree in counseling and I can’t even talk with my own children.

I cry because I do NOT want to be that kind of parent.

And I keep crying.

I cry because I become unmotivated to do anything, and my house gets worse for several days.

I cry because I don’t think anyone cares about how I feel.

I cry because my loving husband hugs me and says he’ll help more but I know it only lasts a few days before he gets wrapped up in his own stuff.

I cry because I can’t get away for a break.

I cry because negative thoughts enter my mind: I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve my family. I can’t do this.

I cry because I’ve never been someone to give up, but it seems like it’s a daily thought as a SAHM.

I cry because I want to be the best mom for my kids but I seem to fail every time I turn around.

I can’t help but think about how this sounds like a “poor me” cry for help. Maybe it is. After all, this is one of a few ways for me to “talk” to other adults. I don’t think many kids will be reading this.

I love my children. I want my house to be organized and I want to pick up some of the old hobbies I gave up because of time and finances, like scrapbooking, reading, and volleyball. I don’t want to give up being a SAHM because there ARE times when I really love it.

I just want to be the best parent possible for my children more often than I currently am.

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Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.