A Better Mom When I’m Not Always Mom-ing

I never set out to be a Stay At Home Mom and, in all honesty, most days I’m not even sure I’m a very good one. A lifetime ago, when I was young, unmarried, and effortlessly rising through the ranks at my dream job, the boss I then aspired to be once told me, “I stayed home for a while because I felt like I was supposed to and since I could. But you know what? I’m a better mom when I’m working.” All those years ago, when I didn’t have the newborn and two-year-old who are my present day smiles AND struggle, I remember being shocked. Not that she felt that way, but that she’d admitted to it–and even more, that she seemed okay with it.

I think of that offhand comment at a company Christmas party at least once a week.

When Josie is screaming, and I still don’t know why. When Mac is already in time out for the second time, and it’s not even 9 am. When I’ve yelled too much and am now yelling at myself for having done it–again… I think, maybe that’s me–maybe I’m the mom who’d be better if she weren’t HERE, in this HOUSE, with these babies, EVERY day.

Maybe it’s time to go back to work, to accept that always open offer, to try something new, even? But I don’t. I’m too selfish, and I don’t want my babies loving on and being cared for by anyone other than me, whether I’m the best for the job or not. I’ll only be their sun for so long, you know, and I’m lucky I even have the opportunity. So what do you do, when you’re the woman who needs to be more than just Mom in order to be a better one? Because, judge-away-can’t-wait-to-read-your-comments, I am surely her.

When I found myself pregnant with #babydubsdos and Mac was only 15 months old, his two morning a week school was the light at the end of my morning-sickness-filled tunnel! And my husband was completely on board.
When I found myself pregnant with #babydubsdos and Mac was only 15 months old, his two morning a week school was the light at the end of my morning-sickness-filled tunnel! And my husband was completely on board.

I sent my kid (there was just one then) to school at 15 months old. “Children must be walking” was the age requirement and, although he wasn’t when I paid his registration, I made damn sure he learned by that first week of September. For two mornings a week, I was completely alone from 9am until 12:30 pm. It was expensive, especially on one income–and a military income at that–but from that very first week I could feel the pieces starting to put themselves back together again.

A few of my MFFs signed their toddlers up at the same time–one was even in Mac’s class at the sweet little church preschool and kindergarten he attended a few miles away. Another would text me with “Happy preschool day!” on Tuesday mornings and we’d excitedly list the 27 things we were going to accomplish before lunchtime. I thought I was lucky to be a SAHM who still got a little breathing room and that was about as far as it went…

Until, one day, when an acquaintance I’d barely spoken to since high school made a comment on an Instagram picture I’d posted. An insanely good breakfast sandwich (I know, Instagramming food. I guess I’m that girl, too) that I was eating, alone, while Mac was at Mother’s Morning Out. I don’t remember exactly how I’d captioned it, but the gist of it was that I was eating this delicious thing because I could, because the little fists that would usually be making a play for it were busy painting or coloring or popping bubbles at school. The acquaintance, in the most passive-aggressive way possible, was quick to point out how LUCKY I was that I could be a SAHM who didn’t have a kid to clean up after all the time and how she’d just LOVE to send her 2-year-old to school but she’d feel too GUILTY because, well, wasn’t that why she wasn’t working? Shouldn’t the baby be home with her? How NICE it must be for me, to be the kind of mom who didn’t feel bad about that kind of thing, and whose husband didn’t mind.

First Day of Preschool pictures definitely left me torn...
First Day of Preschool pictures definitely left me torn…

What the what? Is that what I was doing? Copping out on raising my kid? It hadn’t felt that way when I was researching programs, budgeting in school tuition, and finally starting to feel like an iota of myself. And Mac loved school–always singing that annoying Dora The Explorer backpack song when he saw me packing it up on Monday night and excitedly yelling “I school! I school!” the second we turned onto Herschel. And he was making friends, learning new words–even eating more foods because he saw them in his classmate’s lunches. Could that really be bad?

Apparently, yes. After that first comment, several more rolled in. When I mentioned one to a friend, she looked doubtful and said she could “kind of see where they were coming from.” When I mentioned it to another, her answer was the same. It was none of their business if I wanted to send my child to school while I was at home–but it sparked some good old fashioned mom guilt all the same. And I kept on it, the guilt, every Tuesday and Thursday, until Mac got sick and had to be kept home for a month.

Another pro for sending your little one to a preschool or MMO program? Coming home with miniature backpacks full of cute crafts like this... that are messy enough to leave me cringing at home!
Another pro for sending your little one to a preschool or MMO program? Coming home with miniature backpacks full of cute crafts like this… that are messy enough to leave me cringing at home!

That month was more than just fevers and rashes and crying (from baby AND mom.) It also had heavy, heavy doses of my almost two-year-old asking, BEGGING to be at school. And it wasn’t because I was yelling too much, or because he loved his teachers (who were great, by the way) more than me. It was because he enjoyed being himself without me for 6 hours a week, just as I liked those two mornings of being who I was without him. And there’s no shame in that game, Mom.

Born in The Great State of Texas, Erin grew up in Jensen Beach, Florida. After graduating from Florida State University (Go, Noles!), she managed to wrangle herself a career in fashion management and HR; one that allowed her to live in her favorite places- Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Palm Beach, & Newport Beach- before her husband, Derek, caught on to her plan. The couple moved to Jacksonville in 2013 for Derek’s second career in the Navy, where they now live happily as a party of four: their son, Mac, joined them in 2014 and their daughter, Josie, came less than two years later. Erin spends her weekends exploring Jacksonville with the fam, her weekdays learning how to be a Stay At Home Mom who’s never at home, and her nights knee-deep in t-shirt designs for Brindle &The Blonde- with one eye on the video monitor, of course.


  1. Thank you for sharing! I am in that same position where I feel like I need some sort of me time, but I have given up my job to be with my daughter. I have discussed daycare ( twice a week for 1/2 day)with my husband especially as we talk about getting pregnant with #2. It isn’t just about my needing time but also my daughter needs to be around other children. She gets so excited when she sees other babies and kids and then I feel guilty that she’s not in daycare and question if she’s missing out.
    I am a painter and as you can imagine that has been hard to find the time for when you are 24/7 taking care of others. I feel we all need to take care of ourselves sometime in order to care for others better and not resent them or the situation.

  2. Great read!! You should applaud yourself for overcoming “guilt” and doing what is best for both of you. All moms need to have some “alone” time in order to be better moms. Thank you for breaching a subject many moms don’t want to admit to!

  3. Thank you for you post! It has perfect timing in my life. I have been have a hard time adjusting to the whole SAHM gig after being a registered nurse for 10 years. Thankfully we have found a wonderful family who will be watching our 9 month old daughter about a day a week. I look forward to that time of freedom, honestly.
    We all try to be individuals, but moms are constantly guilted or pushed into these molds that don’t fit everyone. Thank you again for your great post!!

  4. My children have gone to KDO since about 16 months and I don’t feel at all guilty. It is something that my children, husband and I benefit from. I’m glad you no longer feel guilty and understand the importance of self-care. We can only do what works for OUR family. We are the best parents for our children. After all they were appointed to us by Him 🙂

  5. This might be exactly what I need. I chose to be a SAHM, but it’s been a tough adjustment, especially since my daughter is a terrible sleeper. She’s almost 13 months old and has yet to sleep through the night. Would you mind sharing how much you pay for 2 mornings a week? I’m in San Antonio, Texas, so prices may well be different here, but just having an idea might give me something for the husband to consider.


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