The Truth of the matter is is that staying at home while others on the street go to their respective jobs is just part of the package when you stay at home. I've been told by many over the years how they either wish they could stay home or they are glad its me and not them. Here's a little insight to the Stay at home mom (SAHM) life.
If you think I make it look easy- Its only because I have been doing it a long time and I'm constantly crying out to and running to God for help and ideas. My other secret: from day one I have tried not to be a Nervous Nelly or a Worry wart. Which does not mean I haven't been concerned or I haven't worried.
If you think I have it easy because I can kick back all day, eat junk food & watch cable- you're wrong. I can't kick back all day, only some of the day. I don't eat tons of junk food, although Altoids are my cryptonite and I don't have cable (although I occasionally go on Hulu to sneak a peak at the Real Housewives of Atlanta). If you think I'm and other's like me are supermoms-We are. Not because we have superpowers- although we can't deny that we do, but, because we are caring for one or more little people- or not so little people or somebody else's little people and that makes us moms- and that to me is super.
Getting back to the opinions- about staying at home: "I wish I was you or I'm glad I'm not you". What can I say to those opposing schools of thought? 11 plus years ago, when I put away my heels, and business casual attire, I took on a job that has been the most challenging and rewarding experience all at the same time.
I traded in my cute little Ann Taylor neck scarves for burp cloths. I traded in power lunches for baby food, I traded in my one little Luis Vuitton for a gargantuan diaper bag.
I said good by to the office pool, the water cooler, the office politics and said hello to a baby girl who came with no instructions- or at least the hospital didn't give them to me, mounds of laundry, the world of nursing, and figuring out what to do with a little 6 pounder when she wouldn't stop crying. And when I couldn't figure out what to do, I joined her and cried too.
When the house was quite, and I thought I'd nap, the time never lasted long enough. When I was drowning in new motherhood, feeling lost, overwhelmed, sore from nursing, isolated, and lonely-no one rescued me. No one ever told me the deep isolation I would experience when it was just me, the house, the baby, the responsibilities day in and day out. No parenting class, no friend, no relative and certainly no Home Economics class clued me in on this one.
So I got myself out- when I finally could, and joined different moms groups, walked the mall, chit chatted as much as I could after church, and hung out occasionally with other people with little people.
But then the cycle of isolation happened again when I had more babies. With more babies came more responsibilities, more laundry, more highs and lows, more schedules, then homeschooling was thrown in the mix, and it became more stuff to keep me busy and isolated from the outside world. An isolation that is lonely and sometimes dark, no one wants to admit to and no one wants to talk about yet still a reality for some stay at home mom's nonetheless.
Isolation is a world that plunges you deep into to an abyss of where you struggle to do what you have to and all the while longing for someone to share the load because you are drowning and you can't swim fast enough to get back up to the top of the sea or worst, you can't swim at all because you were never taught how to. And the life preserver-well, that is still on the boat and the boat is somewhere at sea perhaps being helmed by a dear Supermom Captainess who has surfaced from the sea at some time in her younger years and she is no longer drowning but not compelled to help those who are because she is basking in the freedom of not having to deal with the abyss or the seaweed that causes one to get stuck in it. She's is just happy that she made it out and she is determined to live her life, seaweed & abyss free.
In my heart I know that there is another boat, its a little boat with a dear Supermom Captiness, rowing and rowing on top of the choppy sea. Whose voyage in motherhood has not been the greatest or the most perfect but over the years she has learned from mistakes and has tools in her toolkit and a life preserver that she is willing throw out to any young Supermom who needs it. The only problem is, is that the sea is overpopulated with the former type of Supermom Captainess rather than the latter.
In the abyss you find yourself being the glue that holds everything together, the family, the house, the activities, the lies, the image people hold of you. All the while something inside keeps crying and crying,, "Help me! Help me!" But no one hears or answers because your cry is silent. Your cry is hidden under all the roles you play, your cry is hidden under the image you have to uphold, your cry is hidden because the louder you cry, everyone elses' cries and needs keep screaming louder.
Four Blessings that still hug and kiss me even when our day wasn't perfect.
Four Blessings that have kept me on my knees and into books. Four Blessings that have asked both poignant questions and embarrassing ones- all in the same conversation. Four Blessings that have made me ask "What in the world?!!!", Four blessings that make it clear that right now- I am their world.
I wish I could say its all glamorous and easy. Some things in motherhood flow almost effortlessly- a lot does not. I wish I could say that I go to lunch with girlfriends each week, play tennis a couple times a week and go to the hair salon. But right now, I can't say those things. I wish I could say that there is no toy or paper monster living in my house-but there is. His job is to spread his love of paper and toys everywhere and he does a good job at it. I wish I could say I always know where lost items disappear to but, I don't. I wish I could say that my car doesn't have snack rappers on the floor- but it does. I wish I could say no one farts or burps at the dinner table- but they do.
I wish it were easier than what it has been but, its not. The truth is I am the cook, I am the housekeeper, I am the chef, I am the nurse, I am the psychologist, I am the chauffeur, I am the activities director, I am the referee, I am the hair stylist, I am the Devotional Leader, I am the monitor, I am the friend, I am the mean one, I am the coolest one, I am the hip one, I am the not so hip one, I am the laundry attendant, I am the language interpreter, I am the phone operator, I am the advocate, I am the comforter of bad dreams, I am the boo-boo- kisser, I am the ice cream man, I am the bill collector-I collect plenty of them from the mailbox, I am all of this plus some. I do all of this and more because I am in love with four little people.
So If I don't answer my phone right away or at all, chances are I'm doing kids, having dinner, I'm tired, or I am trying on a new lipstick. If I don't volunteer for certain things, don't hate. Consider the fact that I volunteered to do alot of xtras during the week already that weren't part of my plan. If you come over and you see dust, cobwebs or the same cheerios on the floor week after week, there are only a couple options with that one- you can ignore it all and continue to smile and chit chat with me or come over and grab a broom. If I'm outside goofing off and there is a sink full of dishes and beds are not made, excuse me if I ignore it all and choose not to feel guilty any longer about it. The beds and dishes will be there when I come back in and not doing them right away doesn't mean us SAHMs (stay at home moms) are lazy or dirty.
I'm done apologizing and feeling guilty that I can't keep up. I'm done apologizing for wanting to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. I'm done not celebrating when I do keep up and everything is in its place.
Is there a fun side- of course. I wouldn't dare of leaving that out. I get to play Nail Salon with my girls. I get to have concerts on the drums and piano and jam sessions by with my lyrical masterminds as we ad lib to whatever is being played. I get to color and play princess and ponies. I get to show eager learners how to cook. I get to take credit for teaching 3 out of the 4 how to read, count, recognize colors, shapes, and get dressed. I get to have little people whisper secrets in my ear so very quietly I can hardly make out what they are saying. I get to go to the park and watch them run around. I get to cheer them on at sporting events-even if it was an ordeal to pack everyone up to get there. I get to ration out the Halloween & Easter candy- then enjoy as much of it as I want when I decide that candy season is over. I get to be the guest at Kids Cafe-when they decide to take over the kitchen and make a meal, complete with a host/hostess, waitstaff & manager. I get to plan "field trips" for my homeschoolers. I get to snuggle with them during movie night-and fall asleep while they are watching the movie and wake up just in time to see the credits roll.
Truthfully after several wake up calls, I finally woke up and concluded that the worst thing you can do to yourself and for yourself as a SAHM is to forget yourself and let the happiness of everyone around you mean more than your own happiness, your own health, your own sense of who you are and what you were meant to be. You get lost so quickly and can't figure out where you begin and where they end.
Looking to the future I have to literally build into my day things that are life giving to me- outside of the kids, outside of people. And after I build those things into my life, I have to make sure at some point in the day before I close my eyes at night, I share my God-breathed moments of happiness with someone or something- namely my journal. So if I danced with Dolly, I let it be known. If I made something pretty, I share that too. If I went for a walk, I bask in that. If a prayer was answered, even if it seemed small- I don't keep it a secret.
Looking to the future, as I navigate this calm and sometimes rough sea, I'm putting tools in my tool kit, and stockpiling life preservers and not waiting till my boat is docked and I'm lounging on the beach of life in my latter years to open the toolkit and share my tools, share my lunch or toss a life preserver when people all around are clearly drowning.
Why would I let them do life alone?