I loved working. I loved my job. I really loved the company I worked for and the people I worked with. I was one of those people. Those people who thought staying at home when kids came along was unnecessary, certainly not for me, and maybe a little bit silly. I wasn’t an arrogant fool; I knew that, for some people, this was the best way to go. I just thought that for me I would be different.
I am smart, I am personable, I am educated, and I was good at what I did. I was proud of what I did and it defined me. We knew we wanted kids but it would take an act, or many small acts, of God to change my mind about what that would all look like.
Over the course of nearly two years, God chipped away at my pride, shifted my focus and planted new dreams. When my first girl turned one, I was finally changed enough to accept what I knew God wanted me to do: be a stay-at-home mom.
So, perhaps you are considering being a SAHM. Or maybe you’re not and you just find yourself reading this anyway. Either way, there are some things you need to keep in mind.
This is What You Will Hear
You will hear lots of opinions on the matter. Some will be pleasant and reassuring. Some will be sincerely curious of the life of a sahm and they will ask honest questions. Others, however, will be neither. They will be blissfully ignorant or irritatingly arrogant. Here is what they sound like…
"That must be nice." - Yes it is! But sometimes it ain't.
“I work for my own money.” - Yup, I've actually heard this one.
“Are you a ‘typical’ stay-at-home mom?” - Whatever that means, right?
“Don’t you think you’re wasting your degree?” - Sometimes, but I have a communications degree and have you ever tried communicating with a toddler?
“What do you do all day?” - Bahahahaha!
“Aren’t you bored?” - See above... seriously?
“I could never do that!” - This one can be neutral and honest, but it is typically accompanied by an eye roll and a stiff nose in the air.
"Did you really just come from the gym?” - This is one of my personal favorites because the woman who said it expected me to say no and to hear an attempt to explain away my yoga wearing self. But I had just come from the gym. And, for the record, it doesn't matter cause I rock these yoga pants either way.
This is What You Will Need
For this new way of life, you will need a few things in your arsenal.
You will most certainly need a sense of humor for all those times someone looks at you like you have three heads when you tell them you are a stay-at-home mom.
You will need patience and compassion to understand that some people, even with the best intentions, just won’t understand. That’s Ok. Being a mom ain’t easy and there are so many hard decisions we are asked to make. With lots of decisions come lots of different ways of thinking. This is just one of them. Give them understanding and maybe, just maybe, they will be able to offer it in return.
You will need a calendar. One thing that is quickly lost is the ability to remember what day it is. This is not because every day is a Saturday but because every day is a Monday.
This is What You Will Feel
You will feel lots of new (or not so new) things as a stay-at-home mom. Some of these may surprise you.
You may feel lost, like you don’t really know where you belong or what you should be doing with your time. Are you doing enough? Are you doing too much? Are you doing all the wrong things and none of the right things?
You may feel lonely. You will feel lonely. We all do at some point or another. You may not like the sound of it, but you will need a friend or two who is also a SAHM. But that's not the only qualification. Make sure they are people who make time for you and you need to make time for them. Sit together, let your kids play, listen, talk, laugh. Put yourself out there, other moms are lonely too and you both need each other.
You will still feel selfish. If you feel selfish as a working mom, that feeling will most likely not go away when you quit working. And, if you don’t feel selfish as a working mom, that feeling may suddenly pop up unexpectedly. You will wonder,
“Should I be making money?”
“Maybe I am wasting my degree.”
“I really think someone else could do a better job of this. I should have stayed at work.”
“My kids deserve better.”
You may feel less valuable and begin to doubt your abilities as a mom on a whole new level. It might make you think you don’t deserve a trip to Starbucks once or twice a week because you aren’t the one making money. At some point you will be tricked in to believing that those other women who are still working and momming are somehow “better” than you because they can “do it all.” This is a seed the enemy really likes to plant. And it will be planted, but it is a lie and you don't have to water it.
You may also feel inadequate. While other stay-at-home moms are baking gluten free, vegan pies from scratch, homeschooling, and growing their own organic vegetables, you just fed your kiddos goldfish and half a banana for dinner. Woops…
However, many days you will feel “incandescently happy.”
Sure, you may still be in your yoga pants with your kids boogers in your hair, but I bet that you will still be happy. When those little faces ask you to play a game or read a book, you will be happy. When you get to take them outside for an impromptu romp in the rain (sans lightening, of course) you will be happy. When you hear that tiny voice say “this is the best lunch ever” when it was really just a warmed up cheese sandwich just like yesterday and the day before, you will be happy.
Here's the Point
I do not believe that God requires every mom to stay home. I do not believe that every family is required to operate the same way. I do believe that each family has their own dynamic and God-given “floor plan.”
Maybe yours is for both parents to work. Maybe yours is for mom to work and dad to be home. Or maybe you are a single parent working your butt off to give the best you can to your kids. My hat is off to all of you and my prayers are for each of you.
Here's the kicker.... Your identity lies in none of this: stay-at-home, work-from-home, working, single, yada yada. However you slice it, you are brave, you are equipped, what you do does matter, you are appreciated, and you are not alone. The world may not understand it; your friends may gloat about their paychecks or their glamorous jobs; your friends may look at you sideways because you sacrifice a lucrative career to "just" be a mom. Who cares?!
Listen to this.... if God is guiding it, let the other crap go. Just let it go.
Your identity is not wrapped completely in “mom” or “dad” or “employee.” I am first and most importantly a daughter of the King, the residence of the Holy Spirit, and a redeemed follower of Christ.
If I look for my value in anything else: mom, writer, entrepreneur, baker, homeschooler, volunteer, CEO, smarty-pants, etc., I will find myself always falling short. However, if I remind myself that my truest value can be seen only when looking through the blood stains of my Savior's blood, I see that He makes all things beautiful. Even me... even this lowly, impatient, sandwich making, degree-wasting, stay-at-home mom.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
For all of you out there, I am choosing to wear my stay-at-home mom badge with pride and not let anyone, ANYONE, make me feel lesser because of it. And I urge all moms, whether you claim the title “Working Mom” or “Stay-at-Home Mom,” to do the same.
You are brave and you are doing a GREAT job!
What things have you heard as a mom, whether stay-at-home or working? What do people just not understand that you wish they did? What words of advice or encouragement can you offer?
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