This year, I made the transition to full time stay at home mom (SAHM), with the exception of the yoga I teach locally two nights a week. Although it has been a long journey to get to this point, I now find myself in a position where I really enjoy what I do. I’m happy where I’m at and doing what I’m doing. Which quite frankly, has come as a bit of a shock.
I never saw myself as a SAHM, even when I first had kids. But through a series of life-events, time, and heart to heart conversations with those closest to me, this is the path I’ve chosen.
Being a SAHM is a privilege, but it’s not easy. There are plenty of days where I’d love to re-enter the working world, although truth-be-told, co-workers and toddlers can both be equally irritating. Plus, this decision came at a cost. While I believe there are huge cost-saving advantages to staying home (no child-care, less driving, able to cook more from home, etc), it also meant losing my income. We didn’t just make the decision for me to stay home and then continue living the exact same lifestyle: the budget was cut, sacrifices were made, and we’ve all had to adjust to the new normal.
The biggest fear I think that most moms (this one included) face when deciding whether to continue working or stay at home after having kids, is the fear that we will lose ourselves. I had that same concern. But then, I remember saying this very thing aloud: “who will I be if I don’t have work to define myself?” My very next though was, “am I really so one-dimensional that I’m going to allow my work to define who I am as human being?
Don’t get me wrong, I, like many of you, LOVED working. I LOVED what I did and how it made me feel. But what I did was such a small, infinitesimal part of who I am. What I did to earn a paycheck didn’t tell you the story of who I am as a person – my hopes, dreams and fears; my past triumphs and future goals; my loves, my insecurities, and my greatest treasures. No, working simply revealed one small piece of me. It revealed a few things I was great at, a few more things I was adequate at, and a few things about myself relationally and professionally. That’s it.
Staying home hasn’t stolen who I really am, it’s breathed new life into a former version of myself.
In the past year since I’ve become a SAHM, I’ve pursued dreams with a renewed passion, discovered new talents and redefined old ones, and have had the freedom to form my identity and sense of self on things that have been far more fulfilling than any job I ever had. The things I’ve pursued and experienced and the lessons I’ve learned because of it have filled me, changed me and transformed me in such a visceral way that even I can’t quite grasp.
At this point you might be wondering what my point is. Am I trying to dog on working moms? Absolutely not! I’ve been one myself! Am I trying to convince everyone to do exactly what I’m doing? No way! I love that we all have our differences. That is how we can encourage and inspire each other.
I wrote this because there might be someone out there like me, who after having kids is trying to find the perfect balance between work and family, and is constantly feeling frustrated and doesn’t know why. I wrote this for the person that longs to make the transition to SAHM, but wonders if she will lose herself in the process. And I wrote this for those who have no interest in becoming a SAHM, but is open to learning about a different way of doing things, free of judgment or criticism.
But also, I wrote this for me. Because this change wasn’t easy.
Are any of those people you? Good. Keep reading.
Two of my biggest pet peeves when talking to others about this decision is when 1.) They automatically get defensive and defend their decision to do what they do to me and 2.) They say “I could never stay home.”
Why do those things bother me? The first one because the decision to become a SAHM was such a personal battle, full of doubt and fear, and has been a journey of trial and error ever since. My journey, has nothing to do with you, just like your journey has nothing to do with me! As moms, we have to stop using other people’s choices as a standard to judge ourselves against. That’s why we all go around feeling insecure and acting like monsters towards other women…because all this comparing makes us, wait for it…insecure monsters! (Or should I say, mom-sters, haha).
Secondly, I can’t help it, I just really find it offensive when people say “Oh, I could never stay home,” as if I can manage it because I have a low IQ, or just looooove children so much. Please. I’d really love to get a shower, put on my cutest pencil skirt and go get a paycheck as much as any one else. Plus, ladies, doesn’t that make us sound a little dumb? Shouldn’t we be able to thrive and rock out in any situation? I believe that about me, and I believe that about you too! If you don’t want to be a SAHM mom, or can’t be a SAHM because of a financial situation, own it! I totally respect the few ladies who have told me point blank that they don’t wont to stay home. Whatever you are doing, just own it.
There are so many SAHM misconceptions, so I thought it would be fun to compile a list of 10 things people automatically (and misguidedly) assume about me when they find out I’m a SAHM. Enjoy:
1. I stay home. I do not! I get out at least once a day with my boys. We grocery shop together, go to yoga twice a week, go on weekly walks, and once a week we schedule a play-date (which means coffee date for mom with a friend!) and a mommy-Theo/Oliver date. The last item usually means we go get a snack somewhere fun and just enjoy being out and about together. (The gallery below is from our most recent mommy-Theo/Oliver date.) Plus, I make “girls night” and dates with the hubby and other friends a priority on my calendar.
2. My staying home means I look down on other moms who work. I support moms no matter who they are and what their family/work dynamic is. This mom stuff is hard. We don’t need to make it harder by judging and looking down on each other. I do what I do, and you do what you do, and I know we can all learn a lot from each other along the way.
3. I love doing crafts. Blah. Theo loves to do crafts, therefore I craft. I do enjoy decorating, cooking and thrifting, which occasionally means I find myself working on projects for my home, but I’m really not a huge crafter.
4. I‘m good at being a SAHM. Most days I vacillate between feeling completely inept and completely crazy.
5. I’m bad at working. I’m actually awesome at working. I’ve continued to grow my resume right up to the point I decided to stay home and even now, I continue to field and turn down job offers. I look forward to returning to work full time some day. And I’ll be good at it then, too.
6. I have a lot of time. Every day I go to bed (late) with half a dozen items on my to-do list that I didn’t accomplish that day. My days with two toddlers are so crazy full and so crazy busy I can’t even comprehend it.
7. My life is easy. No it’s not. Is yours?
8. My house is always clean, and dinner is always homemade. Again, no it’s not. Is yours?
9. I gain a sense of superiority from staying home. I always feel confident knowing I’m doing the best thing for my family. Uhh, no, no, no. If anything, I feel a little insecure being a SAHM because it isn’t a popular decision. I feel like the world measures people by their career and success. So how can you measure me?
10. I think I’m an exceptional mom because I stay home. Most days, I worry more about how badly I’m screwing this whole thing up, so no. I don’t think I’m exceptional. I think I’m trying and doing my best, just like I’m sure you are.
No matter who you are, no matter where you are at in the motherhood and work/family balance, I just want you to know that you’ve got this. You’re doing a good job.
Enjoy this post? Be sure to check out For Joy for other motherhood encouragement.