Working moms are expected to hurry home at 5 p.m. on the dot with unmatched enthusiasm over their upcoming time with their kids. But some mothers actually prefer their offices to their homes—and it’s still taboo to admit that.
In a post to Reddit’s Parenting subreddit titled “I can’t find any joy at home,” OP Chatnoirrr, a mom of 6- and 3-year-old sons, said that while she loves her husband and kids, she’d rather be at work than at home. “I work a very fast-paced job in the top tier of management,” she said. “Every day is exciting there, even if it’s extremely challenging at times. I have amazing colleagues and the field we work in is amazing (space exploration). I’ve been in the same room as Buzz Aldrin three times this year. I get to travel to interesting locations. It’s like being paid to go to space camp everyday.”
Her kids are “super cute but also crazy as shit.” And whenever she comes home, the house is in total disarray. “There’s not a single clean area to sit down,” she said. “There’s screaming, crying, fighting from the kids nonstop. Complete chaos.”
While OP is at work, her husband is a stay-at-home dad who takes care of laundry and dinner, and not much else. “I am grateful for how much he does, but in some ways—maybe he’s not very good at it?” OP questioned. “The house is like a walk-in trash can, the dishes are piled up, everything is sticky, and the kids are terribly behaved.”
The conditions are made worse by how hard she works to keep a roof over her family’s heads. “The house I’m working hard to pay for isn’t enjoyable to be in at all,” Chatnoirrr said. Whenever she tries to clean the house, the boys “destroy it in seconds.”
Her home’s chaos is starting to tear at her physical and emotional wellbeing. “The kids don’t listen to me. The dirtiness of the house causes me a lot of anxiety. The screaming and fighting literally gives me chest pains,” she said. “I’m tired constantly because my job is mentally exhausting and then I don’t get enough sleep because the kids end up in our bed in the middle of night and wake us up.”
OP can’t help but wonder if her husband’s parenting has anything to do with her kids’ wild behavior. “I try to help with the kids but they’re so poorly behaved, which I sort of blame on my husband because he’s practically raising them,” she said. “I can’t be sure, but I often wonder if I were the one at home raising them they’d be better behaved.”
In the comments section of the post, OP said the few times her husband has been out of town, she maintained the house with ease. She gave the kids structured activities, and cleaned throughout the day so the mess wouldn’t accumulate. She wondered why her husband couldn’t do the same, given both kids are in school full-time.
When OP asked if any other parents were in the same boat, commenters were quick to tell her how she could better communicate with her husband and support him in his SAHD duties (including hiring a cleaning service). But only one mom responded saying she felt the same way as OP.
The guilt of being a mom who would prefers work to home is difficult to admit to. Of course, OP said she loves her husband and doesn’t want to make him feel bad when she doesn’t have the experience of being a full-time stay-at-home parent. “I feel terribly terribly TERRIBLY guilty for feeling this way,” she said. “I love my husband and my kids so much, but I can’t find any joy when I’m at home. There’s nothing redeeming about it. Little glimpses of cuteness with the kids but they are fleeting. Definitely, I hate to say, not enough to override all the stressful parts that dominate my time with them.”
If only more working moms could be as honest as this anonymous woman with a very cool career, maybe we could all feel a little less defeated and guilty about finding work easier and more enjoyable than child-rearing.