Nine years ago when my husband and I brought our first beautiful baby into this world I had never planned on being a stay at home mom, and I never wanted to be a stay at home mom. Growing up I knew one day I would have children but unlike my other girlfriends I wasn’t too eager about it. They loved baby sitting, and holding other peoples babies and I just didn’t get it. I thought, yeah, some babies are cute. But they come with more cons than pros, they smell funny, throw up at random times and the whole pooping themselves… what is that all about? Gross. You can’t do much with a baby either and they are the most selfish things on this earth. Well, this is what my teenage self thought. Yeah, I was totally going to put off baby making until my motherly hormones could not be contained any longer.
When my beautiful son was only about four weeks old I was eager to slowly get back to work by doing part time night shifts here and there. Not because I didn’t love spending all that time at home with my new son or because I needed to get out of the house it was because I feared that if I didn’t get right back to work I would loose part of myself.
I had always pitied stay at home moms, like they were little more than slaves for the other people in their home. That their brains were going to waste. What was the point of all that education? Weren’t they lonely? How could they stand cleaning up after everyone’s lazy self’s and be expected to do it as a job? What a terrible job! I wanted to be an artist, a world traveler, a great thinker, a change the world kind of girl. I hated dishes and laundry and didn’t care for cooking much as well. That was not going to be me.
So why in the world would I even have a kid… well I am a girl after all. After finding the love of my life at only 19 and getting married, domestic life was growing on me. I had found someone who wanted and agreed to be partners in this life together. We had agreed to share all rolls and responsibilities, 50/50 all the way. Love and time changes you and when you find someone who loves you so much and you love them in return, you naturally want to serve them. I started to learn to cook as my husband did as well. We learned our new domestic talents together. He turned out to prefer to do the laundry (mostly because he thought I folded weird.) I turned out to like to do the cooking (mostly because he only wanted to eat meat and cheese). So after about three years we thought how lovely it would be to share our life and love with a baby. Even with all my anxiety and misgivings I was excited about the idea, and surely with my loving husband by my side we could handle anything. So that was that. Fast forward nine months later, there I was with my wonderful husband and our new baby and still getting to go to work. I had everything just the way I thought I wanted. My husband and I worked different shifts so that one of us always got to be with our son and sometimes my work even let me bring him in. It was all working out marvelously until heavenly father decided to throw us a curve ball. When my son was only five months old I found out I was pregnant with number two… In fact I was two month pregnant! I tried to keep working part time and take care of a new baby while pregnant and it just wasn’t going. I was so tired and sick all the time. Something had to give.
I wish I could claim that I had one of these enlightened moments where I just decided I was going to be a stay at home mom no matter what because that was my true calling in life and that is what my children needed. But I’m not that lady. I became a stay at home mom because we ran out of options. I didn’t really have a choice. We lived in a town that was so small that the nearest day care center was over an hour away. Plus It would cost more to pay for child care than what I would make. Plus even though I always wanted to be a working mom I never wanted someone else raising my kids or being the majority of their care taker. That was mine and my husbands job. We were never going to have kids for someone else to take care of them. For me, that wouldn’t have been okay. Plus, even If I wanted to get someone to watch my babies so I could work everyone we knew worked. Even the grandmas had full time jobs. That’s just how it is in a small town where there are not much jobs especially ones that pay decent. So I had to quit my part time job and be a full time mom. And for the first while I resented it. I loved spending all that time with my son but I didn’t feel like it was fair. I felt like this is not what I agreed to when I said “I do”. I am not this kind of girl. I am going to waste away in this house. But I figured that this was my situation and I just needed to deal with it. I made the mistake of thinking I could talk to other women about my frustration’s and I got comments like “You know how many women wish they could be stay at home moms?!” Comments like that didn’t change how I felt they just made me feel like an ungrateful freak, and that I needed to hide what I was going through better. After my second son was born (shortly after I quit work) I decided If I was going to be a domestic engineer I was going to do it right! “Grow where you are planted!” and all that. So I started cooking and baking, oh my! Baking, now that’s really wild! Trying new recipes, cooking without recipes, cleaning all sorts of stuff. I even tried my hand at laundry to my husbands horror. It also occurred to me “good stay at home moms sew and make homemade bread!” So I took that challenge on as well! So why is it that months and months later after I had embraced my new roll with enthusiasm and hard work that I was more miserable than ever? Was it because out of the 10 times I tried to make cinnamon rolls everyone of them were completely uneatable and hard as bricks, or that when I tried to make my sons quilts I would always end up crying over my new sewing machine because the stupid bobbin always ratted up on me? No actually. It wasn’t the failure of trying something over and over again that was getting to me. I’m a very creative person and love the act of creating no matter how terrible the outcome. The bliss comes from the creating. It wasn’t until I came across a talk given by a lady I admired, Julie Beck, where she talked about a woman’s talents, that things changed for me. She talked about how our heavenly father didn’t make us the same and doesn’t want us to be the same. He gave us different talents for a reason and that we should embrace them and let them shine. That we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other women and try to be something we are not because we we’ll never find happiness and peace that way. And it just dawned on me that this is the same for Motherhood! So I got the idea to challenge myself to write down all the things I love and enjoy about motherhood. And I was surprised to find out that the list was actually quite long. The things I enjoyed about motherhood were just being overshadowed because I was focusing on all the things I was doing wrong and on not measuring up to. I was so focused on the negatives I couldn’t see what I was doing right. Then I decided to challenge myself. For one whole week I would only focus on and do those things on the list. Now I know this sounds a bit dramatic, and I really questioned if I could just let everything else I hated just go for a whole week. But I needed to do something drastic, I was so miserable and resentful to my beautiful family and I didn’t want to be that person anymore. They deserved so much better. So I did it! I really did it! For one whole week I didn’t try and make bread again, or sew, or do laundry, or even much cleaning. Instead, I sang songs to my boys, took them to the park and on walks, and played down on the ground with them. I still did the cooking, which I actually thought was fun. And some day I cuddled on the couch and just watched TV with my babies in my arms and made myself not feel guilty about it. And you know what happened? I fell in love with motherhood! This was my motherhood. And at the end of the week I didn’t feel resentful when I cleaned up the horror that was my house. It was easier to serve the people in my home when I wasn’t fighting myself. This little experiment helped me to let go of all those unreasonable expectations we women put on ourselves working or not. And as the months and years went on and the more I embraced my own unique motherhood and motherly talents the more talents I found I had. I turned out to love and be good at teaching my boys new things. I loved helping them to explore and learn. Teaching them the animal sounds was so fun and rewarding. It turns out I’m a fun mom. I love taking them on little adventures whether to the park, building huts or going on little hikes. And I continued to explore my love for arts and crafts and taught my boys to color and paint for the first time, make pine cone bird feeders with peanut butter! And I also decided I should pack up my sewing machine. Not that I was giving up on it but It wasn’t necessary and for now it was just getting in the way of other stuff I was needing to embrace and focus on. Maybe I’ll try my hand at sewing and bread again someday but really, I just hate it and that’s okay! In so many ways learning to be my own kind of mom set me free and helped me have more love to give. There is more than one way to be a good mom. Since I had that revelation almost eight years ago I have never felt like I have lost a piece of myself, in fact just the opposite. Being a full time mom has given me so many opportunities to edify myself. I am a better artist because of being a stay at home mom, what’s more fun and inspiring than painting pictures with my kids. And as for traveling… we travel! Not only do we travel but we get to show our kids these places for the first time as well. Traveling is so much richer with them. Some of the best most amazing experiences in my life has been because of my beautiful family that I’ve created for myself. And as far as being a change-the-world kind of gal. I change the world not only for my children and my husband but for myself almost every day!
In todays time I think its scary for women to think about being stay at home moms. I know it was for me. I heard it so many times when women find out that I am a stay at home mom, They feel like they just don’t know what they would do with themselves all day, that they would go crazy or they are just not that kind of woman. I was them. Some people even call those women selfish and all they can do is think about themselves. But I know that it is not that. We are afraid. In our minds how can we possibly ever measure up to the expectations of what a mother “should be.” It is an impossible challenge. That is why I am so passionate that we need to get the message out there to other women and our daughters, that we each have beautiful motherly qualities that are very different from each other and we need to embrace them and stop trying to be the kind of mother we are not. This would change so many mothers and future mothers lives, working or not.
I also want to say I know that some women have to work, and that they love their work and sometimes the Dads are stay at home dads. I’m not saying any of those are wrong. If it works for your family go for it. But I’m talking to the women who are afraid of embracing motherhood in any form. Or have the wrong ideas of what it means to be a full time mom. If you are a working mom, it’s got to be even more difficult. So don’t spend your time when you are with your kids doing stuff you hate… write down the stuff you love and enjoy and spend that special time doing that. If getting crafty and glue all over the place is not your idea of a good time with your kids find something that is. If you like sewing or baking… do that with your kids. If you just have to have a clean house make it a game with your kids! If your strength is being a good listener, make sure you are doing that regularly. What ever your needs from motherhood love it, embrace it and have fun with it. The other things that you “have to do” will come a lot easier if you are taking care of the things you love to do. Choose happiness.
I am about to have our third child, a little girl and we are super excited! We even moved from our little town to one that has plenty of day care options and I even went back to school two years ago when my youngest started preschool. I graduated top of my class in graphic and web design. I’m so excited to be getting to be a mom again and almost feel like this is a second chance for me. Because of all the things I learned with my boys all those years ago. I’m excited that this time around I am going to spend more time enjoying my little girl and this special time in our lives and less time trying to be the “perfect mother”. I am going to be my own version of a good mom for her. And yes, I always knew that when I was done with school I would be having another child, and no, it wasn’t a waste of time. I had the opportunity to invest in myself and develop something I love to do. I also now have the comfort of knowing that if there was anything to happen to my husband I have the skills needed for a better job than a fast food joint. And that is a great gift for my family and me. Plus I chose a degree in something I get to continue to do at home and its great because I get to still do something I love plus be there for my loved ones. I’m so grateful for basically being forced to be a stay at home mom, and learning to love it. And now that I’ve got to experience it all these years and seen what a difference it has made for my family and myself I will always be a stay at home mom even with my new degree and all the day cares available. For us this is what works best, this is our happiness.