About Jennifer Todryk
Hey there! I’m Jenn.

Things get a little loud and chaotic over here from time to time. I blame the three child beasts ... and Mike is loud too. But, I hope to bring you nothing but happiness, inspiration, good home decor and only the comfiest clothing recommendations because, who really enjoys pants .... ? And most importantly a good laugh. I hope you laugh a lot… even if it’s at my expense.

- Jennifer
July 22, 2015 | Motherhood

A Stay at Home Mom: Exposed.

by Jennifer

In no way am I writing this to claim my side of the mom-battle. I am not here to tell you my job is harder than the working moms’ job and I am not trying to convince anyone that what I am doing is the right way to do things. This has nothing to do with that. I wrote this mainly to express my own thoughts on my recent identity crisis and I would like to think that there are other moms out there who can relate. If you can’t relate and your first reaction to reading this is to roll your eyes or scoff, I challenge you not to.

Just hear me out.

The last eight months have been somewhat of an internal struggle for me. Trying to find my identity as someone other than just a bra-less stay at home mom covered in vomit has been a challenge. Due to fear, I haven’t shared with many people what I had been feeling. I strongly dislike being vulnerable or appearing weak and I wasn’t sure if anyone would be able to relate.  The last thing I wanted was my friends thinking I was whining about how rough I have it. My life doesn’t suck. I fortunately have an awesome life and job. By no means is this me complaining or whining about a job that I have chosen to do.

After I had my first son my world was forever changed. (If you have not been reading any of my previous posts about motherhood, let me please refer you back to my piece regarding baby terrorism here.)

Prior to his arrival, I had a full time job that I actually enjoyed. My husband and I decided that once he entered the world, I would become a stay at home mommy. Being at home with my children was something we both felt very strongly about. I am a workaholic. I can’t say I was a workaholic, because I still am one. Whatever job or task is at hand I want to do it perfectly. My work assignments have just changed a tad. Corporate visits, presentations, weekly workshops, and deadlines have now instantly morphed into birthday parties, home decorating, managing a family calendar and raising human life. Whatever the job is….. I’m going to #nailit.

Along with being a workaholic, I am competitive by nature. Something that isn’t very fun to admit since it has a bad rap. Being competitive can come off as aggressive, self-centered, too serious… all things I don’t want to be, but at work I will always try to be the best.

I mean, why be second when you can be first, duh.

(see……. dammit.)

I think that the fact that I am competitive and a workaholic by nature, is mostly to blame for why giving up a corporate job threw me into shock. The shock set in late with me. It wasn’t until my second child that I started to feel like something was off. Something was missing for me.

No, not another child. (I do want a third, some time. Just not now.)

One phrase constantly haunted my mind throughout my long days of poopie diapers, toddler temper tantrums and many breakfast, lunch and dinner meal preps.

I just want to be seen. 

I wanted someone to say “Jenn, that presentation was great! Good job! Can’t wait until the next one.”  I just wanted someone to acknowledge anything that I was doing throughout my day, but no one could. No one was there to see what I had done. I’m just a stay at home mom, I sit at home, drink unhealthy amounts of coffee and watch TV all day, right? I’m so lucky that I get to sit at home all day and craft….. must be nice.

(The part about consuming unhealthy amounts of coffee may be true. It may be absolutely true.)

That’s the impression that many people give off when referring to a stay at home mom. They may not mean too, but little comments like “Yeah but you have time to do all that…” alluding to the fact that since I am at home all day, I must not be busy. Or my personal favorite, “I could never just sit around all day, I would go crazy!” 

Comments like this just added fuel to my internal fire. I already felt like no one saw me and now I was under the impression that they thought I didn’t do anything productive. Awesome.

I don’t matter.

Sure, I matter a great deal to my children. They would not be functioning as living humans if I did not feed them. But apparently, since I’m not saving lives in an E.R or selling large real-estate properties, I’ve got it made in the shade.

As far as my husband, he is as caring as one husband can get. Some women complain that their husbands don’t compliment them enough…. well, let’s just say mine over does it. In a good way! I’m basically verbally abused but by nice words. He is constantly telling me how great of a mother I am, how lucky the kids are, I’m a great wife, thank you so much for cooking, you keep the house looking amazing……

you’re so much smarter than I am. (wink)

The list goes on and on and for that I am appreciative of him.

But when the same things come from the same person every day, it starts to weaken the compliment. This sounds awful, I know this, but it was how I felt. I missed being complimented or acknowledged by someone other than the person I am married too. He has to say those things, he loves me and that’s his job. He doesn’t really mean it. This actually has been a real thought in my sleep deprived brain.

Sounds like I am a five-year-old child, right?

I was discussing these thoughts with my husband one night, and I used a simple bucket analogy to further explain my point.

Everyone who works has a bucket. Your own little work-bucket. And all day, every day, you get little “bucket fillers”. Some larger than others. For example, you gave a presentation today at work and it went well. You feel great after this. Maybe you got some compliments from a boss or co-workers, maybe you didn’t…. but either way, you feel like you have done an excellent job.

That my friend, is a bucket filler.

A co-worker asks you to edit something she has written or asks for advice on an issue she’s having. You gladly help. It feels good to feel heard. Needed.

Bucket filler.

It could be something as small and insignificant as Jane at work saying “Girl, those shoes are SO cute!” Bucket filler.

Maybe no one even compliments you. You are having a phone conversation and just happen to make a great point. After you say it you think to yourself, man that was a good point, what I just said right there….. We’ve all done this.

Bucket filler.

You sold a house today, you saved a life today, you got employee of the week, you hired someone, one of your students that has been struggling finally made that “A”, you were told you were being looked at for a promotion, you got that promotion, you set up a happy hour for the end of the week…..


Now imagine never getting any fillers. My bucket has cobwebs. I still have some fillers in there from 2012, but they are covered in dust and they don’t give me much satisfaction anymore.

 If only my kids could give me some bucket fillers:

Mom, the way you just changed my diaper right there….. that was ridiculously good. Well done. Sorry it smells like chemicals and poison. Extra bucket fillers for you.

Mom, this peanut butter and jelly sandwich….. how did you spread the butter and jelly so evenly? I mean, every bite has a perfect jelly/peanut butter ratio. May I PLEASE have another. I must have another.

Mom, I am truly sorry that I am acting like a baby-jerk. I have hit you, screamed in your face and you don’t deserve that. If anyone deserves it, it’s dad for leaving you here while he goes to work and gets to talk to people over the age of two. I’ll do it to dad when he gets home, in your honor. You rock mom. 

Mom, you know how we read books before I go to bed? Even before naps? I love that. Some moms just lay their kids in bed and shut off the lights, but you take extra time. You always read me that one extra book. You’re such a great reader. You even make the different voices. You are just as good of an actress as Minnie Mouse. I love you so much.

Man, now those would be amazing bucket fillers. And I know one day, if I do my job right, that I will get them. But for now I must do my job without any accolades.

 My husband travels often, leaving me flying solo in not only the daily madness but also the night-time routine (that always seems to be the most stressful time). So when Mike returns from his 2-3 day trips, I’m no picture perfect June Cleaver greeting him at the door in my dress and heels.

 I tend to resemble a drug addict that is experiencing withdrawals. Messy hair. Messy face. Sometimes in the same clothes that I was wearing when he left me. A bloody nose and a crazy look in my eye. Well, one of my eyes. The other eye is black and swollen shut due to a beating I took from my toddler the day before.

The kids. They try to break me. But I always come out on top. I’m still alive and mentally sane…for the most part.

Hubby often says, “We can hire a nanny so you can go do things to create balance. Get your nails done, go shop alone, go to the gym… Anything you want!” but that is the last thing I want. “I don’t need a nanny! (Unless it’s a Pocket Nanny, of course, but since they don’t exist yet.) I’m fine! If every other woman out there with two kids is doing this and smiling, then I can too!”

Pride. She’s a real joy.

No. Only I could fix this. Only I could change my attitude. I started doing some soul searching and lots of prayer. I even reached out to my mother, she’s been in my shoes and we are all still alive. She doesn’t appear to be insane. I must take notes.

  What did I need to change?

I knew I wasn’t going to go back to work. This is such a short part of my kids lives. Soon they will be off to school and I won’t get to read them books or rock them before nap time. I’ll never get this time with them back. I had to change something in my regimen. I had to have something to break up the stress of my daily mommy-grind.

Enter blogging.

I never had the intention of sharing my stories with the entire online universe. I started small by listing stressful situations I had experienced that day. Humor is how I fix all issues in my life. It’s a curse. So I started making fun of myself, making light of each stressful event. There I sat, 10 o’clock at night on my computer, when I should have been getting valuable sleep, and I couldn’t stop typing.

or laughing.

My kids are hilarious! These situations are nuts. You can’t make this stuff up.

 I kept typing.

Some posts are so brutally honest that they come off crude and unpleasant. I am aware of this, but it’s my own personal therapy. To be honest, being a stay at home mom isn’t always made up of feel-good moments. I am absolutely not happy every second of my life. Not all my days consist of Facebook worthy status pictures of me and my darling children. Not every second of my life deserves a #sohappy or #everybodylookhowcuteweare.

However, writing about the difficult events that take place throughout the day actually makes me love them. I go to bed at night and find myself no longer asking God to help me with my patience but instead I thank Him for these little hiccups throughout my day. I thank Him for my toddler’s sense of independence. I thank Him for his curiosity and his eagerness to always be learning, even if it is learning that crayon does not belong on the living room walls and that toilet plungers should not be licked. Ever.

I thank Him for these moments. And sometimes I even chuckle. Mid prayer.

I encourage all moms to have an outlet! Crafting, working out, planning dinner parties, reading, baking, scrapbooking…. anything. If it wasn’t for my husband hovering over my shoulder for months, reading my posts and insisting that I take my ramblings public, I’d still be hobby hunting. I wasn’t making this a priority for myself and it was robbing me of happiness in more ways than one. I thought my sole purpose as a SAHM was to only focus on my children (which it is) but I’ve realized that I should be able to set aside time for myself, doing something that I want to do, not have to do. Nap times no longer only consist of house chores. I pause the tasking, leaving the kitchen a mess and take time to enjoy myself and take a breather, something I thought I wasn’t allowed to do.

Stay at home moms……. Unite! At times this job makes you feel so lonely and isolated.

But just know, that when the day is long,

and 8 pm can’t come quick enough…

I’m right there with ya.

– Until the next time this Redhead rambles.

Feel free to share with other mamas who may need this today!

For more humourous and bluntly honest parenting posts and videos, please “like” my Life as a Rambling Redhead Facebook Page

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Leave a comment

  • crap you're funny Jenn!!! You're welcome ....and i see you were watching your mom all those years, you're a great mom and I'm very proud!! BLOG ON DAUGHTER!!!
  • Here you go sweet momma... encouragement for your heart... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YU0aNAHXP0
    • Oh my, I love this Jill! I was so worried about coming off whiny or that I was complaining, but this lady did it in front of thousands of people haha LOVE it! Thanks so much!
      • I needed this today. I laughed out loud. I have two under three and most days I want to put my head in the oven. Hot confident woman - awesome professional career - income + 2 babies in 2 years + 15lbs - husband (works alot) = mind numbed SAHM covered in some bodily fluid I love your sense of humor and perspective. I promise you are NOT alone.
        • Put my head in an oven hahahaha I love this, and it may pop up in a post, so please be on the lookout for that. I am so glad you related to this post :) I am always covered in body fluids and to be honest, I haven't felt "hot" in over three years. Hopefully one day, I will feel attractive ha! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!
  • Excuse me, please get out of my head!!
    • Thank you so much Teryn! I'm sure you have similar mommy experiences/thoughts. Thanks for the feedback! Hope all is well with you and your super cute fam :)
  • bahahahaha- all of this. yesssss. I'm not a stay at home mom, but i feel you. and laughing at the craziness that is mom life. dailiy. love you my dear!
    • I know you too have some crazy stories Amy!!! Thanks so much for the kind comment :) Love and miss you my friend
  • Love this. The bucket analogy is so true. We all need outlets and I am with you I struggled for a year about if I should make my posts live. I thought the blog was all about me, but what I have found it is really about the community and connections to other moms. Great place to unite.
    • You are great, Jen! Didn't realize that cute, winsome high school girl in the play where you were in (was it a tiger suit?), had such talent. I do remember, for sure, that suit had a long tail and I loved your antics. I'm Becky' mom and though I'm old. old now (really ancient) those SAHM days allowed me to share all her friends, including her wonderful and talented friend, Jennifer Marsch Todryk. Hang in there girl. If you were in the corporate world there would be no gems of wisdom from the Redhead and how sad that would be! (Pease excuse all mistakes. As I said, I'm not a spring chicken anymore and my spelling and punctuation were the second things to go.)
      • Fran you are so sweet! Thank you so much for this sweet comment! Have a great weekend :)
    • Thanks so much for the nice words! Following your blog as well :) Feel free to write me anytime!
  • You are a gifted writer and it is a pleasure reading your blog. Thank you for using the free time you scrape together to share the misery, the laughter, and the memories with the rest of us.
  • I am not a mother (yet) and I never had a stay at home mother. I have also had virtually no experience with tiny khhumans. When I asked my cousin (who is a stay at home mom) what it's like, I didn't say, "what do you do all day?" I asked her, "what's it like to stay at home all day with two humans you created?" Because OH MY FREAKING JESUS, that seems like a lot of work. My parents had one kid and I remember how ridiculous and needy I was every second of the day. You do the work of patient angels and it is important, and it matters so much more than presenting a presentation to a client. Next time someone who does not have kids asks you what it's like, tell them it's like teaching your grandparents to use the Internet for 12 hours a day, every day, seven days a week.
    • Courtney, this comment is hilarious! Thank you so much for the kind words! Hope to be getting feedback from you again in the future :)
  • Jenn, thank you for being courageously transparent with a perfectly endearing blend of truth and humor. You have beautifully expressed what every SAHM struggles with and in so doing gently welcomed them into the warm embrace of being seen. I wish that the internet had been around when I was a SAHM because your blog would most likely have helped me exchange feelings of loneliness with a sense of community. Here's to water in your bucket everyday.
  • Courtney I love your comment about teaching your Grandparents to use the internet! This post really resonates with me. I'm now a foster parent to a lovely but sometimes very challenging lad with a significant learning disability. I described my job as professional parent to someone once; they laughed. There is no way I could go back into the classroom in my current situation, and nor would I want to as my son needs me. I've started blogging too as an outlet, and I might even give myself permission (idiotic) to go swimming regularly! Stupid comments I've had have generally reflected ignorance of what I do all day and how massively incompatible with teaching full time it is. Are you enjoying your time off? Oh, you've given up working then? I could NEVER do what you do, how lovely! Where do you teach? * breathe*
  • Wow. I stumbled across your blog (via Pinterest) and now I am hooked. You are hilarious, you say it the way I would! I especially loved this one about how hard it is being a SAHM. It touched my heart, and made me laugh. Keep it coming!!!
    • Jeanette! I'm so glad you found me! :) Thanks so much for leaving me a comment, it means so much! Especially because I was very nervous to post this piece. So glad you can relate!
  • Yes yes and yes. All of it. I can relate to every single post I have read tonight! Stumbled across your blog because is the wine post. I don't even like wine but I'm glad I clicked! Glad your blog has been so fullfilling for you! It made my night!
    • Hey Brooke! So glad you checked it out and could relate!When women tell me that they relate, it's the best compliment :) Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment!
  • Love your blog! I promise the bucket fillers will come!! I have been a full time stay at home mom for 14 years...I have 3 boys that are 15, 12 and 10. I have actually been thanked by my 12 year old for all I do for him. When he broke his ankle I wanted a picture with his leg in a certain position (this position actually caused him more pain) when I realized this and I said I was sorry for my request he said "it's the least I could do...you do so much for me." Made me cry! And they do tell me how good my PB&J's are...and they tell me I do a better job tucking them in at night than their Dad. Let's keep that between us :) Thanks for sharing your life and experiences!
    • Dawn- I am so impressed that your young men are so grateful! You've raised them right my dear! Thanks so much for your kind words and for taking the time to read my mommy-thoughts :) It means so much that you took the time to write me! Have an amazing weekend!
  • Okay. This one almost made me cry. You just described me. Again. But this one hit Titanic deep. To the point of praying for more patience and having way too much coffee. Only difference, my main man is here every day and helps out at 'happy hour' when he gets home from work. But like you, I have the same clothes for three days too even with his help. The shame (I say this raising my cuppeth that overfloweth to whoever judges noweth). I started roller skating. True story. At my age people think it menopausal while looking up to the sky. Hashtagitischeaperthanaporsche. Now I can tell them Jenn says it's my bucket filler. Work that one out enter person who does not have a clue's name here... And I'm taking my passion for photography to another (business) level. But Jenn, you've NAILED this uniting us business. You have started the healthy circle I urge moms to be straight-up honest with themselves and other moms, to rather have fun than perfection wherever I go as I was all alone with this motherhood business, just moved countries and thought to be a failure because I do not look like them super moms in the movies/magazines. Even though my closet is filled with Batman gear. I felt judged. Especially when they moved their kids away from my boy hitting their kids over the head with me flapping like a wet mermaid on dry land to stop this nasty party trick (I had black eyes too) when he was 8 months old. He is now six, yes, still alive, thanks for asking, I can proudly say he has stopped hitting others and rather hit any form of a ball which turns out to be his gift: brilliant ball skills. Where are you now when he's won player of the year (twice) with his rugby, movingkidsoutthewaymoms? This is why I will always share your posts. You keep things honest and hilarious. Is there any other way of coping? I love your writing. And at the risk of sounding like a serial stalker, I love you and yours. Feels like I've known you all my life. You confirm what I always feel and it is amazing to know I am not the only 98 - that's how many personalities I have. I effortlessly gained the 90 extras when I became a mother. And it's okay to feel this way. Please keep on doing exactly what you are doing. You have a gift connecting in a world where we have all the tools but use them to disconnect, really. And best get more buckets (one with my name on it, for sure) with all the fillers you so deserve that will be/already are coming your way xx
    • Danine- You are seriously the best. I always look forward to reading your comments at the end of my crazy days! Where do you live now? (You mentioned switching countries) Roller skating- hilarious. I don't even know you but I can picture you scooting around solo having the best time haha I appreciate you sharing my articles SO MUCH! I am not too great at "promoting" myself like I should be (according to my husband) and it definitely helps to have amazing women like you helping share my "Rambles" with other moms! Many, many thanks! I can't say thank you enough! As always thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. They are always welcomed :)
      • I claim your biggest fan title. Because I am. South African born and bred, now living the life in New Zealand. No need to thank me for throwing your glitter all over the place because you leave things pretty. You are saying everything that every mother I know want to say/feel and just give us more reason to raise our glasses. It's almost like my favourite book clubs. The kind where there's only wine and no books. Don't skate as often as I'd love to due to the photography-starting-my-own-business-with-two-kids-and-a-husband-right-up-there-being-my-third-kid but yes, I'm claiming that back too. I literally smash it. Kids came with one session, ran in front of me and I don't know how to stop, you'd think that's the first thing I would teach myself to do, and wiped out while pulling my boy on top of me. My girl got away just in time. I fell backwards to protect him thanks to good ol' protective mother instinct (the first thing you learn in skating is to go forward, especially when you fall, always, but they never considered mothers grabbing their kids in mid-skate so there is no back-up plan here) and lo and behold, I do have a butt bone there somewhere, covered in voluptuousness. I felt it for weeks after. I also aced the jumping on eight wheels bit. If I knew how to post a pic here showing my epic jump that turned into a small tsunami on my body with all my lady parts hitting my double chin, I would post it for you to enjoy. It's a bit blurry. Because of camera shake. Due to the thunder thump when I hit the ground. My husband took it all on him as he was the photographer and felt the need to save my reputation by telling people it blurred because he was laughing so much. True love, right there. Don't stop being you, Jenn! is all I'm sayin' :)
        • So we are seriously the furthest we can be from each other, New Zealand - United States and here we are talking. Isn't that SO COOL?! I love it! How neat is that?! I will give you all the credit then for how many New Zealand followers I have :) I have 38 followers in New Zealand by the way! haha just looked it up because I was curious. That's just amazing to me. I appreciate you spreading my "glitter" seriously, you don't know how much I appreciate it! Thank you thank you and thank you, but even more importantly, thanks for always reading and reaching out.
  • "I am a workaholic. I can’t say I was a workaholic, because I still am one. Whatever job or task is at hand I want to do it perfectly. My work assignments have just changed a tad." This connects to me so much you have no idea. I left a very successful career to be a SAHM for the same reasons. Yet I still feel like I'm working the grind with a new and purposeful focus. When #2 arrived I too started to feel lost - my identity? - that's where the pickled nipple blog came to life just a few months ago too. I wish I was witty and could write like you, but instead it's more recipes and projects (where my strengths are). Best to you and I'm SO happy to have found your wonderful evening blog. Keep what you are doing, you have a wonderful voice!
  • This is so me. Every part of this post is what I am experiencing. Happy to see that I am not alone. Keep it up!
    • Thanks so much! I love hearing that women can relate to what I have to say. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment :)
  • Your honesty is amazing! I've experienced the same thing! Although i'm 'lucky' to work from home (I say 'lucky' because I often ask myself what the heck I was thinking..). But 6 evenings a week I'm home alone with the little monster (who loves that darn toiletbrush as well).. and yes, we need to unite!! Besides my job as a designer, my blog has also been my greatest outlet. Having a project cleared my mind!
    • why oh WHY do they like the plunger?! So gross!! haha Thanks so much for taking the time to read my mommy thoughts :) I truly appreciate it! Moms UNITE.
  • Oh my gosh, everything you wrote rings true in my life, too. My husband travels a lot and I'm stuck at home with 'his' kids! ;) He also made the nanny comment and it really just hurt my feelings and made me cry...if other women can handle it, so can I, right? I love the honest way you write; I feel like too many women sugar coat things and pretend like they never have these same thoughts and feelings. But we do, and we should all be real and encourage each other in this #momlife! ;)
    • Hey there! The nanny comment is the worst :( I understand they think that they are trying to help, but it makes me feel like I am sucking at my job, right?! Thanks so much for your kind words! Comments such as these are what fuel me to keep writing every week. You're an awesome Mommy!