Thoughts From An Overnight Stay-At-Home Mom

by Leah Olson
Originally Published: 
Courtesy of Leah Olson

One fine Friday in March 2020, I received an urgent text message alert from my two-and-a-half year-old (O)’s child care center announcing that it would be closing indefinitely due to “the Coronavirus.”

Interesting, I thought. So, come Monday, I am suddenly going to have to spend seven full consecutive days (over and over again) with O for the first time since he was four months old.

But this is beautiful! I then thought. I still have a month left of maternity leave with N (two-month old). I am now going to have an opportunity, albeit abrupt and unexpected and unfortunately courtesy of a global pandemic, to — as the great LeBron would say — take my talents to the SAHM world with my two kids under three. And I’m going to nail this! I mean, I got through Harvard Law School and then two different corporate law firms. I know how to go big. Give me a week and watch; I’ll be gracing the Internet with the best SAHM-tip blog in the history of the world wide web. You’re welcome in advance, ladies.

Well, I did not create said blog. Oh hell no. I barely had time to desperately type out daily text messages to my mom, herself a lifelong SAHM, asking her to rescue me from her home 3,000 miles away. I did, however, manage to keep a running thought log in my head over the course of that year-long month that I was a full-time SAHM. And I’d like to share some of those thoughts in lieu of any tips:


Hmm. O doesn’t have as much interest as I thought he would in playing with the homemade play-dough that cost me the bottom of my saucepan as I burned watery salted flour into it for like forty minutes because I thought I could wing the ratios and had to keep adding more of everything to make it a solid consistency. He has far more interested in eating it. That’s gross.

He’s also not that into the stamp kit that got 4.5 stars and 3,497 reviews on Amazon.

Or the ball pit that my SAHM neighbor swore her kids used to play in for hours on end when she gifted it to me yesterday. Damnit, I get that these things seem kind of creepy (and my kid hasn’t even been to a McDonalds Play Place yet!), but the hell if I just went through the effort of individually Lysoling two hundred plastic balls for nothing. You know what, yes I am going to pick O up and drop him in kicking and screaming. He’ll get over it.

OMG. I just folded the laundry before three-quarters of it had gone back into the dirty pile; unloaded the dishwasher; meal prepped for at least tomorrow; AND got N to take a fifteen-minute nap in his swing while reading a book to O! Who else can I tell this to?? If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it… oh crap, what was that loud crash from upstairs?!?

I am slamming fistfuls of Goldfish behind the pantry door because I don’t want O to see me after I just told him he couldn’t have another snack. My whole day is basically him asking for another snack. I CAN’T with the snacks!!!

I am one stray scribble on a piece of furniture away from a meltdown.

To whom else can I send this sweet photo of O and N besides my mom and MIL? They don’t have a daily quota on baby pics, per se, but I think I’ve reached the unofficial limit.

Courtesy of Leah Olson

N and O are — and I can barely believe this myself — finally down for a nap at the same time … and now Hubs is speaking into his Zoom call at the volume of a preacher at a megachurch. Now Hubs is a bit miffed that I have no interest in hearing his scientific analysis of how the white noise machine combines sound waves of a broad spectrum of frequencies to cancel out the decibel level of a human voice. I seriously do not care. You wake ‘em, you take ‘em, Boo. Oh that’s right, you won’t take ‘em because I’m the SAHP right now. So shut up!!!

Painted pasta necklaces were also a fail. I’ve just cleaned paint out of places on a human body that pre-kid me would never have envisioned.

Why am I sitting here working up a sweat trying to get the battery compartment of N’s Musical Counting Koala open with an Allen wrench since our screw driver is lord knows where? I know what’s going to happen if I am successful. This hunk of plastic is going to come back to life and then I’m going to end up secretly sending it to join the Speak-and-Learn Puppy in the landfill because that tinny, creepy-ass robot voice will be playing on a loop in my head.

Last night I had a dream that I thought I was done cleaning my house but just kept finding new piles of laundry everywhere. This one was legit a dream. Most of the time it’s just “today.”

How does one actually play with a toddler? Am I supposed to dumb myself down? I think O thinks that’s weird. I don’t know. It’s awkward. And he’s bossy AF.

My phone tells me that it’s Saturday. Its point?

Turns out that buying deeply discounted canary food on Amazon does not make a good substitute for the bird feeder that I do not want to create given my kids’ historical aversion to craft projects. But now there’s canary food all over our back patio that none of the wild birds in our yard will touch and which I now have to clean up.

Damn it, if I see the eyes emoji pop up one more time on my phone telling me to “check this out” on Pinterest, I’m gonna snap. My SAHM friends, I confess. I am a poser. I cannot do Pinterest. I cannot do any of this!!

Is it bad to feel like this glass of wine is my actual friend?

Speaking of friends, sort of. I think I just overshared at the park with a stranger. I guess we didn’t know each other well enough to know that I’m not a heartless monster who regularly puts her screaming infant in the Pack-N-Play in another room so that she can for once take a GODFORSAKEN SHOWER that’s long enough for her to shave her GODFORSAKEN LEGS. That was just once (fine, maybe twice), and I love my baby so deeply, I really do!

Maybe asking Hubs if anyone in the house would even miss me if I died was a tad dramatic. I at least could have picked a more opportune time, since he was logging into a Zoom meeting with his boss.

Will I ever exercise again without my kids, or without feeling guilty that I’m without my kids, or without worrying about what shit show I’ll return to since I’m without my kids?

Same as above but also: shower, read a book, write, cook, bake, go to the store.

How in the name of the heavens is it only nine a.m.?

Being a SAHM is hard. I’m failing.


And so here we are, six months later. I went back to work (remotely) in April. In July, we hired a part time sitter because I was legit worried about getting fired. In August, I sent O to a morning preschool program. But I still do way more SAHMing than pre- pandemic. And yes, SAHWMing is a whole other level of insanity.

However. So is full-time SAHMing. This past week, I just read an open letter from a SAHM to a SAHWM (written in September 2020). Wow. I felt so seen. I was so grateful that another mom had taken moments out of her very limited me-time to acknowledge the work that us working moms do while also caring for our kids at home.

And then I thought about all of the above — my March thought log, if you will — and realized that I wanted to write an open response, to this particular SAHM and all others:

Y’all are incredible. You are doing work that is exhausting. You are consumed with motherhood and parenting and kids and chores and your home. Someone always needs you. You are always feeling a profound emotion. Whether it’s good or bad, it goes right to your core so it is exhausting either way. You may go for hours on end without interacting with an adult. The rest of the world never sees a quarter of all that you do and yet you keep doing it anyway. I am sorry that I ever thought that I could just slide into your livelihood and dominate. I’m sorry I even thought of it as a competition in the first place, but that’s sort of what I’ve been primed to do out there in my cutthroat gold star-chasing career world. I’m sorry that I’ve characterized my bad days as “fails.” They’re not. Those days are valuable time spent with my kids, caring for them and making memories.

But okay, yeah, some of them are epic fails.

Anyways, I respect y’all and am honored to have gotten to walk in your shoes (although TBH I was mostly wearing slippers). If you’re like me and currently have a glass of the mommy juice in your hand, then cheers from SoCal.

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