Three months ago, with the arrival of our twin daughters, I joined the #3Under3 club. Before their birth, I assumed my job as a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) would be business as usual: take care of my kids, cook and clean at my discretion, and pretend online shopping is an integral part of running a household. Well, let me tell you what every mom who has more than one kid is thinking: one child is absolutely amateur hour.
Almost immediately it became abundantly clear that things (all of the things) would never be the same. Not my body. Not my house. Not my time. While some of it was expected, there’s one thing that blindsided me: I needed help taking care of my kids. Which was an odd thing to wrap my head around given my job title.
After weeks of suffering, it became obvious that I needed help taking care of my kids, so I could actually take care of me. My daughters were getting an always-exhausted, second-rate mom because I was too afraid to admit that I needed time away from them. I was becoming the mombie stereotype just in time for Halloween; underfed, over-caffeinated, and appropriately-wined.
The solution was only an Internet ad away. So I did what I had to do, and I got myself a nanny. She’s perfect, but I have to tell you, you’d think I had gone online in search of a mistress, not childcare. The burden of shame and guilt I carried was crippling.
I felt the need to explain to people our situation (i.e. no family within 100 miles, no village, no tribe, etc.). Date nights? Not a thing. Actually can’t recall the last time my husband and I made eye contact. Then there is my insane inability to relinquish control, how I’d wipe 100 counters before I’d step away to wash my own face. I will parent and clean until I’m sick, dirty, resentful, and in need of a full-scale intervention.
I even dusted off my TI-89 and crunched the numbers to see just how many hours I work a week as a SAHM (85.5), hoping a magic number would justify my desire for childcare. Lastly, I polled my Instagram followers in what can only be described as an incredibly scientific study that should be considered the final word on whether or not a SAHM is deserving of help. The answer was a resounding “DUH.”
And I wouldn’t be the only one reaping the rewards of this hired helper. Let’s not forget my kids who deserve her more than I do. My toddler gets an hour with her before school that is 100% undivided attention and play. No mommy getting up in the middle of a story to put a pacifier in a baby’s mouth or distracted “uh huh, that’s great” responses. After I leave the house, my twins have a person talking to them, not moving them from boob, to burp, to bouncer like they’re on an assembly line.
Armed with my dossier of validation, I set out to prove the haters wrong, but I’m too tired to carry this torch. The reality is is that none of that matters. My reasons are mine alone. Moms don’t need to justify the choices they make for their families. Moms don’t need to explain to other people why they make those choices. And it definitely doesn’t matter where a mom’s situation falls on the continuum of difficulty. Some have it worse, some have it better– but we should all want parents to get the support they need because that’s when children thrive.
I’m not afraid to admit anymore that I need help with my kids. I need a few hours a week to do what’s best for myself because f0r the rest of my lifetime, they’ll get the best of me. I have watched too many complex, creative, and loving women lose their shine because they are parenting without pause. Thursday is #NannyDay in my house – I Target, I Starbucks, I do whatever it is I want, and then I come home ready to kill the mom game.