I just recently made the decision to explore life as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve always been a career girl, love work and oftentimes found my worth in my work. But after looking over the past year of Kennedy’s life, I realized that I put my work before her and especially before my husband. I needed to know if I could be a stay-at-home mom, I needed to explore that life and soak up time with my little girl. It has been an amazing, wonderful, and HARD journey. Let me just preface this with the fact that I STILL love to work, and will probably go back to work someday soon, and I know MANY stay-at-home moms who rock it and many women who have careers outside the home that totally rock career and mommy-hood. SO, keep that in mind as I go on a rant about being a stay-at-home mom!
So far, I’ve learned some very important lessons about being at home with my beautiful, tiny little tornado of messiness.
It’s SO repetitive. Let me repeat, re-pet-ti-tive. When I was ready to be at home with my nugget, I often glamorized being a stay-at-home mom. We live near the beach, so I envisioned play dates at the beach, pool time, QT with girlfriends while the kids played, maybe a mimosa or two, etc. Man, was I wrong. Yes, we do get to do those things, but it’s always in between nap times (that usually don’t fall at the same times as our other stay-at-home mom kid’s nap times so it gets cancelled yet again). We are slaves to our kid’s strict schedule, not even for their own good, but for our own sanity! Wake up, kid routine (which is super boring for adults I might add), dinner, bath time and put the nugget to bed. And then, decide whether or not to get more sleep or actually give yourself some adult time where you don’t have to watch the Disney channel or constantly be on alert as to where the heck did she just go? I mean, if I have to sing “itsy-bitsy spider” one more time I might jump off our roof, but I know I will sing it yet again because I love seeing the smile on her face while I’m singing it and the clapping and screaming with joy when I finish each song. It’s repetitive, boring (for me at least), and in between all that, little glimpses of joy. So during our repetitive days, counting down the minutes until it’s acceptable to have a glass of wine is totally understandable. Is 3:00 to early? My mom would say, “Well, it’s 5:00 somewhere!”
It gets lonely. Toddlers just can’t hold a stimulating conversation (unless maybe they are British, British kids always sound smart). I wonder what everyone else in the world is doing while I’m at Target AGAIN just to get out of the house. I mean, I find myself chatting up the clerk in the checkout line just to have some sort of adult interaction. Taking care of your kids is rewarding, and one of the most important jobs anyone could ever have, but man, it’s hard. I can see bitterness creep in when my husband tells me he has yet another happy hour or dinner somewhere fun while talking business (adult conversation) while I’m at home doing the normal “please eat more” battle with my toddler, singing the same songs while she takes a bath, watching Frozen AGAIN, and putting her to bed. The fact is, it was EASIER for me to go to work and let someone else worry about the kid routine. But when God calls you to be with your kids more, it’s a choice and oftentimes a sacrifice which is not something I realized until I experienced it for myself. So with that said, we have to be super intentional and persistent to make time to be with other adults whether it is a girl’s night out, play dates or especially date nights so we feel less lonely, less like “mom” is our only identity, and more like ourselves again. The fact is, almost ALL of my friends who stay at home with their kids feels the same frustrations of being at home, missing work, missing adult conversation, etc. So if we all just open up and talk to each other about it, help hold one another accountable when those feelings creep in, it can lessen our need for Xanax and wine one day at a time (maybe).
There is always GUILT. One thing both my “work outside the home” friends and “work inside the home” friends have said is that they feel guilty. What is with the mom-guilt?! Ugh. Moms who have jobs outside the home feel guilty for not being with their kids more or even guilty that they love their jobs! Stay-at-home moms feel guilty for not doing more, rocking a full-time job and taking care of their family. The fact is, most of us have those feelings of guilt no matter which road we choose. Should I be doing more? I should probably have the house spotless when the hubby gets home. Suzy Q totally rocks her full-time job and made homemade cookies for the bake sale (annoying), etc. But at the end of the day, the one thing I’ve learned is that it is HARD to be at home with your child. So many of us were career women who made a sacrifice to be with our kids more. We feel like we are losing ourselves, becoming irrelevant, etc. Am I actually getting dumber? Ha! But, I’ve often heard that you may regret the time you spent away from your kids, but you will never regret the sacrifices you made to be with them more. So when it gets hard, we have to remember that, and our children will always remember the time we spent with them. One of my career friends told me that working makes her a better mom, so she makes sure the time she has with her daughter each day is QUALITY TIME, which I love. And if I go back to work, I’ll take that advice very seriously. Nevertheless, when we are at home, feeling those feelings of frustration because our toddler is screaming AGAIN because we won’t let them play with knives and glass, we are counting down the minutes until we can feel like ourselves again, and maybe wine will help 😉
There is VALUE in taking care of your children and your home. This may seem obvious to some, and I have many friends who feel a lot of gratification from cleaning, cooking and taking care of their kids (and they totally rock at it too), but it wasn’t obvious to me at first. I actually bragged about the fact that I do NOT find gratification in doing laundry, making sure our house is clean, or especially cooking. The fact is, it’s a lesson I think God wanted me to learn. Since I’ve been at home with Kennedy, our house is clean when Daniel comes home, and it’s not because he expects it, but because it gives me joy to make our house an oasis for him to come home to. My husband works very hard, and I have loved making sure he has clean undershirts for work, or a made bed so that when he gets home, he doesn’t feel more stress (clutter stresses him out), but feels at peace being home with his family. I have joy now in having dinner ready and it makes me happy that my husband appreciates the dinner I made him! Kennedy is too young to understand yet, but I truly believe that me taking care of our home needs and her basic needs has given her a sense of stability and peace too. Even when I go back to work, I will always understand the value in these things now, and I’ll always sacrifice time and work in order to make sure our home is an oasis for my family. (But let’s face it, when you have kids, it’s never going to be spotless, it’s an on-going battle, but at least we tried.)
In conclusion, experiencing being a stay-at-home mom has changed my perspective on a lot of things. It has mostly given me a whole new level of respect and admiration for my many friends who have chosen to be CEO’s of their home. I commend you, ladies. You are rock stars, and I just know that the sacrifices you made to be at home are well worth it for your family. Have GRACE for yourself and for other moms because it’s a hard job and you deserve it.
Disclaimer: Just so no one get’s crazy, I do not condone drinking too much wine and taking care of your children. It’s just a funny title because we’ve probably all been there like, “IS 3:00 too early to pour a glass of wine?” And let’s be honest, a glass of wine may be the highlight to our repetitive days!