Friday, May 16, 2014
Why I Chose to Be a Stay at Home Mom
A century ago this title would be superfluous to the fact that most mothers stayed at home with their children even after they were school aged or grown. Unless for financial necessity (read desperation), this fact was not discussed or carefully planned, it simply was. How much has changed! And, how much I wish it hadn't. Now, us moms who choose to stay at home feel we need to defend our decisions and are looked down upon by our peers and even our own husbands for this "humble" way of life. Despite numerous studies that support children being raised by their own parents, still it is not valued as it should be. So, why do we women of the home continue to voluntarily subject ourselves to this ridicule, disrespect, loneliness and some of the longest and hardest days we will ever live? Because, it's right.
My husband and I have recently fought over this issue in a way. Really the fight was over respect and appreciation for each other but really it boiled down to my being a SAHM in the bottom of the pot. Though we both agree it wouldn't be economical for me to return to the work force nor would it be best for our lifestyle or children, there is still something about me staying home that rubs him the wrong way. I won't lie, some days are really hard and I complain a lot but, I wouldn't ever want to be anywhere else. Just like I listen to him gripe about his bad work days, that's all I really want... some understanding.
Personally I chose to be a stay at home mom because that's what I had always dreamed of doing! I have loved babies and kids since I was little and I gladly slipped into the wife/mom role. What I didn't know was how it wasn't as simple as I had thought. Surely all those moms I had eves dropped on talking about how hard and isolating it was were just milking it and had poor attitudes. This was going to be awesome! And, it is... but in a completely different way than I had perceived. Being with your kids 24/7 is great because you bond deeply, get to experience all those firsts and triumphs, have little snuggle sessions, be silly and you can really do "whatever" you want. Just last night I sat on the lawn for a half hour and blew bubbles for my daughter to chase after and I got to watch her delight as she laughed and ran. But with the sweet always comes the bitter. My son is now six and he is testing his limits and new sassy attitudes on me. Daily I get screamed at, disrespected and disobeyed. Daily I correct, calm, discipline and train this sassy little man, sometimes all day. I am not a perfect mother. I yell, I say things I apologize for and I often go to bed feeling like a monster. But, I get up and try again better the next day with softer words, more hugs and more patience. My kids may not realize how much they appreciate mommy being here all the time especially when I am correcting or training them to behave and obey but, like myself, they will when they are grown because they will (if I am successful!) respect authority, have self control, understand responsibility and generally function as adults. Raising the next generation should not be taken lightly, it is the biggest responsibility anyone could ever have! My husband this week got in his fortune cookie "the strength of a nation depends on the integrity of the home". How true! A nation is made up of people so how can we be strong if we are rebellious, needy, lazy, disrespectful, irresponsible, impulsive? I don't know about you, but I didn't have a child as a gambling chip, I'd rather increase my odds of them growing up right than chance it on someone else's instruction (or lack there of).
So, now I have established why I feel this decision is important. Now, what about this is so much of a job? Sure I have to talk, that's not so hard (tongue in cheek). I'll tell you, it really isn't a 'job'. A job is something you do periodically on a daily or weekly basis and receive compensation for. Being a full time mom is just that... all the time. I don't get vacation time (unless I beg), sick days, weekends, nights, lunch breaks, bonuses, paychecks or holidays. I do get overtime though! Hahaha... but, seriously. If you have ever worked a job you know, once you clock out, turn your phone off or shut the computer down, you are free. I am not complaining, just stating a fact. I take help that I get either from my husband, mom and dad, or friends as a gift not a given. This is mine and I own it. Some days I rock it other days I crash and burn, either way it's mine to own. Bless my son's heart, he does appreciate me and shows it sometimes. He had the stomach flu a month ago and every time he threw up he said "I'm sorry I am sick. You need sleep!". I did, but we manage through the night and next day, eventually catching some sleep. Little things like that fuel me up though when I realize I am doing the right thing and my children will remember these moments with fondness, maybe someday repeating my acts with their own child. Simple though it may seem, the little things matter. And, little things is what I do all day long.
I am a stay at home mom, but I wish I was seen as so much more. I am a woman, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister, gardener, equestrian, seamstress, knitter, teacher, nurse, counselor, accountant, event planner, cook, shopper, cleaning lady, manager, vet, daughter of the Savior, scholar of life, book worm... need I go on? Since when did we take this term 'stay at home mom' and make it overshadow who we are beyond it? Why have we been devalued especially by other women?! Why do I need to justify why I didn't load the dishwasher, start supper at exactly 4:30 or why my two year old is still in her pajamas after noon? Why do I feel I need to point out how much I accomplished some days? Because, I feel like I need to justify being me. In my life, I feel disrespected, judged and alone a good part of the time. I stress about this fact constantly and my brain is always trying to find a new way to rectify this situation whether that means saying nothing and doing everything or trying to speak up and ask for help or kinder words. By no means do I want or expect any glory for what I do, but as a human I long for acceptance and respect, to know I am valued for what I do. What I do alone when know one is looking.
In the words of Lorelei Gilmore... "I am a kayak, hear me roar". She said that after her mother pointed out that she always relied on herself and could "paddle" through life just fine on her own. It's lonely in the kayak, but it is functional and you gain strength from it. I love my children and cherish them so much! Raising them will be my greatest accomplishment and when they are grown I hope they remember me for it. For now I will gladly continue to be their world and teach them about the real one, hold their hands to keep them safe, make macaroni and cheese for the 400th time, be screamed at if only to have an opportunity to teach them to control their tongues and kiss tears of broken hearts. To give them love and my life even when no one asked me to. This whole post will be read by only a few and probably be picked apart furiously by most. Most of what I do won't be seen or commended by my family and friends, but God will. He praises us mothers for our work even if we can't audibly hear it. But, to know it makes all the difference.