A Minnesota woman is speaking her truth about the realities of being a stay-at-home mom.
Bridgette Anne Armstrong recently opened up in a candid post on Facebook about the frequent misconceptions that come with being a stay-at-home mom after she says she had no other person to whom she could express her own frustrations.
“It was important for me to go public with this because I honestly really didn’t have anyone privately I felt I could reach out to,” Armstrong, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I wanted some sort of reassurance, I suppose, that I’m not the only one who feels this way sometimes, that I’m not crazy for having these feelings, and it doesn’t make me a bad parent.”
In the emotional Jan. 30 post, Armstrong found it difficult to hold back tears as she admitted that she once thought it was an “easy” gig that required little to no “real work,” but has since drastically changed her perspective following her own challenging experiences.
“Everyone thinks being a stay at home mom full time is easy,” she began beside a photo of herself crying. “That we are lucky to be able to not have to work, that we are lazy, that it’s not ‘real’ work so we have nothing to complain about. But the truth is…it’s f— lonely and overwhelming.”
Armstrong went on to explain the reasons behind her thinking, noting that it was nearly impossible to get alone time (even when she went to the bathroom), maintain her self-care, and keep up with household chores because her attention was completely devoted to her 18-month-old daughter.
“You don’t get breaks unless they are sleeping; which even then you use that time to clean up,” she continued. “You wear the same clothes that smell like sweat and tears for days at a time because it’s already stained and no use in ruining more clothes.”
The mother also mentioned how her mental health had suffered from constantly being with her child all day, every day, and coming up with ways to amuse the toddler for 12 hours on end.
“You forget what it means or feels like to be an individual; because your entire existence now revolves around that child,” she wrote. “You look at working moms and get jealous because you wish you could have an excuse to have an adult conversation without being interrupted.”
To cope with her emotions, Armstrong said she would sometimes “lock herself in the bathroom and scream into a towel while crying” — but even then, she felt a sense of judgment from others.
“When we do break down people question it; ‘like what do you have to cry about you get to sit home all day,'” she wrote, before acknowledging that she was once one of those people.
She also urged others to check in with their friends who are stay-at-home moms.
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“I get it now,” she admitted. “The people who said they’d be there to help have all but disappeared, and you’re left with this overwhelming sense of failure.”
“My house isn’t clean, I’m not clean, the dishes aren’t done, I have screamed already today, I have cried, and I have felt so damn guilty that my child was here to witness it,” she wrote. “But I am alone….and I am lonely. Check in on your SAHM friends….we are NOT okay.”
Armstrong’s candid post was met with support from over 26,000 users, many of whom agreed with her and said they’ve felt similar emotions, something that left her floored.
She was also particularly moved by all of the positive comments because she says was initially hesitant to put up the post.
“I was definitely worried about posting this because it is so personal and not what we usually see on social media every day, but nonetheless, at that moment in time I wasn’t really thinking about that, I was just looking for help,” she tells PEOPLE.
“The positive and warming messages have been overwhelming,” she continues. “To be someone who was the one looking for help to [now] receiving literally hundreds of personal messages and thousands of comments telling me that I helped them, it’s been nothing short of absolutely amazing.”
Armstrong’s post comes a little over a year after Salary.com published a study claiming that stay-at-home parents should earn more than $160,000 in annual salary for caring for their children.
The site gathered “a handful of jobs that reflect a day in the life of a mom,” such as bookkeeper, public school teacher, and dietitian, and added it all up using their stay-at-home-parent Salary Wizard tool.
“[We] would like to honor all the moms out there who work their hardest day-in and day-out,” the site wrote, adding that the study helped them to “recognize both professional and stay-at-home moms on their unwavering dedication to their families and other responsibilities.”