I have been a stay at home mom for eight years.
When I stopped to calculate that number, I surprised even myself.
Nearly a decade of childrearing. Holy milf, indeed.
When I made the decision to stay at home, I was not in love with my job, but was in love with my babies. Simple, right?
Add a third baby, physical trauma, and postpartum depression into the mix and ‘stay at home’ was not as blissful as Leave It to Beaver would have you believe.
The other day I watched Mindy Kaling’s take on ‘Stay at Home Milf’dom in her sitcom episode of the same name. Facing the end of maternity leave with her newborn and the start of a work relationship with an obnoxious new colleague, Mindy quits her job, telling Danny she’ll be the best MILF there ever was. As always in the show, the irony is rich as Mindy follows the directives of a website called ‘Modern Mominista’, cooking and cleaning while looking perfectly fashionable. Not completely sold on her decision in the first place and enduring a rough week at home, Mindy trades places with Danny for a day. She feels alive with triumph after successfully completing a surgery. Her victory is short lived, however, when she arrives home to Danny’s gourmet meal. It looks as if he’s excelled at stay-at-home daddydom. As she confesses her true feelings to the baby – how she loves him so much, but feels as if practicing as a doctor is the only thing she’s really good at – she discovers the secret to Danny’s success: his mom’s help. Mom and Dad come to an understanding of how hard staying at home all day with baby really is.
The idea of this episode was not to vilify fathers as clueless with unreasonable expectations – though I was upset when it looked as if Danny was going to show her up (The plot redeemed itself with equal frustration 😉 ). It was an honest – if humorous – look at all facets to the decisions of parenthood and childcare. Mindy’s reticence at telling Danny how she really feels gets to the heart of all dilemmas surrounding motherhood – where the circles of self and mother intersect.
I didn’t want anyone else caring for my children as infants. While that decision was fueled by love – it was followed with the close seconds of my need for control and my ambivalence toward my career. Do women who view their careers as vocation love their children any less? And what of women, like me, who stand by their decision to stay home, but struggle with the day-to-day carrying out of it? Who are driven to anxiety and depression by the stimuli and stressful responsibility of it?
There is no clear-cut answer – as evidenced by Mindy’s confession to an empty room that she’s actually happy to go back to work.