Whole Parenting Family

I Love It. I Hate It. The Battle of Staying at Home with Your Kids.

It’s Halloween. Happy Halloween! If SuperBoy could be something of my choosing for Halloween (you guessed it: he’s Babe Ruth dressed up as SuperMan), it would be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

That’s right. The Robert Louis Stevenson novel character wherein one person can is simultaneously wonderful and terrible. I know every little child is like this, and I’m not alone, but let me fill all of you in who have adorable babies (tormenters in the making) or no kids yet. Those of you who are childfree by choice probably know all this.

You’ve heard it all before.

From the dual working household it’s this: Mom or dad of child X says, “Oh, staying home would be so challenging. Sometimes I’m just relieved to go into the office on Monday.” Parent of child Y remarks at a party, “I love our childcare. They provide great structure and wonderful learning opportunities for our beloved little Y. Y loves to socialize with the other children. It’s a great fit.”

From the stay at home household it’s this: Parent at home of child Z says, “This is the hardest job of my life. One of us is going to die, me, or the kid. I’m fantasy job hunting outside the home.” Parent also says, “I wouldn’t give this up for the world because I see my children all day long and I get to bond so closely with them.”

Mommy wars ensure: which is harder?

Newsflash: parenting is hard no matter what. Yeah, it’s hard as waking-up-all-night-for-two-crying-individuals, hard as figuring-out-meals-that-aren’t-bfast-cereal-for-multiple-people, hard as taking-kids-to-the-doctor-and-play-dates-and-outings-and-the-toilet-all-the-time, hard as screaming-in-your-ear-grabbing-at-your-leg-needing-to-be-held-at-the-same-time-as-the-other-child, hard as making-it-to-work-on-time-after-daycare-drop-off-and-pumping-in-a-closet-to-keep-your-milk-supply-coming, or hard as balancing-work-life-education-kids-partner-food-errands-laundry.

Parenting is also rewarding, fulfilling, and mindblowing.

My brief analysis of why this is the worst and best job of my life.

It’s the worst because days happen wherein nothing gets accomplished, SuperBoy is unhappy all day, SweetPea is mildly perturbed (because let’s face it, she’s almost always happy), I never get past square one because the whole day is focused on survival. Tantrums! Diapers! Failed naps! Failed meals! Broken dishes! Allergy attacks! Shots at the doctor!

I’m crabby. They’re crabby. I have to rein in my desire to say to SuperBoy: “You are annoying and I am tired.” And to SweetPea: “You are fussy and I don’t want to help you go to sleep. Just go to sleep. NOW.”

I have to focus on having fun! education! behavior shaping! positive reinforcement! and radiating love! All when I just want to go back to bed with some ice cream. And Netflix.

It’s the best because I am watching their relationship blossom under my guiding encouragement. All the behavioral shaping is paying off and SuperBoy has fewer and shorter tantrums. See post on Tantrum Taming here {Three Steps to Taming Your Toddler Tantrums}. SweetPea loves to engage with him and me, and touch our faces and laugh.

We eat homemade food almost every night. They’re a part of preparing food, and learning to love helping in the kitchen and the garden. Him on his stool and her in the sling.

I get to talk with SuperBoy about things that really matter in a meaningful way, like God before naptime, and the finer points of baseball in the afternoons, and why we pick raspberries and have dance parties in the morning. I get to nurse SweetPea on demand and only use my breast pump for that extra storage for a weekend trip planned away in a few months. I get to smell her sweet neck all day long. I get to watch her laugh hysterically at him throwing a toy on the floor, and him do a repeat performance 15 times to get her reaction.

They love me. They hate me. I love it and I hate it. But mostly I love it, even when I’m hating it because I know I can share about it here. Thanks for listening, friends.

An outlet for me from the chaos is the blog, of course, and my etsy shop–Whole Parenting Goods. Sending an order to Canada today. Love it sooooooo much: Large Organic Double Sided Minky!


  1. abby on October 31, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Amen Sista! All said so perfectly. It’s such a love/hate relationship. Everyday there are moments when I am so happy and in love with my life and in an instant it can all change and I think I’m not going to make it to 6pm and I certainly can’t imagine getting up and doing it all over again another day – I spend nap time job searching because surely working out of the home would be way better. HA! Knowing that other moms feel the same way and can relate to loving their job one minute and hating it the next makes it so much easier because sometimes being home makes us feel so alone and isolated — like the rest of the world is living some glamorous life that we are missing out on. Again, Ha!

    You’re an awesome mom, friend and wife.

    p.s. great pictures of little guy and his pumpkin!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      Being home is so isolating in some respects–and it can make the glass half-full-half-empty feeling really strongly persuade us that working moms have it all. But they don’t because none of us do! I do find that when I’m somewhat presentable looking, that helps me feel like more a real human and not a milk machine. But then again, SuperBoy pointed to my bathrobe the other day and said, Mama, you wear this, not that (gesturing at what I had on), so I guess he thinks that’s my uniform??

  2. donielle on October 31, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Yep I find there are days when nothing goes right and you get into bed happy just to hug your pillow and not have to hear another crying fit…. and the next day is the best ever and the kids make you laugh until you cry and hug your leg and say “tag yer a tickle now!” I am amazed all people don’t want kiddos and at the same time run from mine at times! You sum it up well!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      That’s perfectly said: “Amazed all people don’t want kiddos and at the same time run from mine”–totally how I feel! I never understood why moms would “complain” about their kids before I had a toddler. Now I get it. We’re not complaining, per se, we’re releasing some of that built up steam on how tough it is to be a mom onto another adult so we don’t do it to our children!!

  3. Kristi on November 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Ah, someone understands me! Thanks. Especially for the “You’re annoying and I am tired” sentence. I laughed so hard when I read that. I hate to admit it, but I think that sentence actually exited my mouth once. I probably heard in return, “What’s annoying?”

    I stay at home with my girls, ages 21 months and 3. Whenever I have a bad day (or week!) it really helps me to remember that this arrangement is my choice. I don’t have to stay home. If I don’t want to make up songs just so they’ll sit in their car seats, or risk choosing the wrong color yogurt (on a full-time basis,) I don’t have to. I can stop staying home at any time and go to work. And when I think about that, my day turns around. Every SINGLE time, I think, “No! I don’t want to stop watching them grow.”

    You’re right, there are definitely 2 sides to it, and you worded the struggle perfectly. Hang in there on the long days. I have a feeling we won’t regret it!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      I know! I have wanted to say something far less G rated, but for my 28 month old, it’s really, truly, true. I never knew children could annoy and irritate. Oh boy.

      What a great reminder. This is a choice, and that totally releases the pressure of feeling claustrophobic about it. I, too, don’t want to stop watching them grow! This is not a bash on working moms, as most of my girlfriends work and are great moms. It really is a reflection on where I am in life. And my working mom girlfriends have the same ups and downs with their kiddos, the time exposed to the children is simply shorter.

      You hang in there too! I love that choosing yogurt is a hazardous pastime as you will inevitably select erroneously!

  4. Caitrie on November 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you SOO MUCH for this post!!! It’s so nice when you can find mamas who aren’t afraid to admit that it IS a love-hate relationship! I think we’d all be a lot more sane if this was something mamas weren’t afraid to talk about. So, thank you. Because you just made me feel just a little bit more sane.

    • Natural Mama Nell on April 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Caitrie! How am I months in responding to you? You’re sane. And wonderful. And your little man is so lucky to have you!

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