23 June 2010

no one's making you read this

so stop right this minute if you get offended easily.

I may not even publish this anyway, but sometimes when thoughts circulate in my brain for long enough it helps to get it all typed out as if I am going to share it with whoever it is that reads this blog.

What has been humming around in my mind for the longest time is the stay-at-home mom issue.

Maybe I just need to stop reading so much, but there seems to be a ton written lately about how staying home with your kids is not that important and since I have dedicated my time to staying home with my kids right now and it is an all-consuming career choice... this dismissal kind of irks me.

I consider myself a stay-at-home mom since if I do ever work it is one class three times a week and my children are with their father.

In this way I feel lucky. I get to be home raising my children all day and get a little break here and there. I think all moms deserve a little break, but let's not kid ourselves- there is no substitute for a loving parent being home with their children all day.

Many working moms work because they have to and some by choice and I say- that is your choice and you have obviously not entered into it lightly. I love all the working moms I know so much and know that they all love their children like crazy. I have met some other working moms here and there who all have one common comment they seem to all have gone into a secret pact on in sharing as often as possible, "Oh, I could NEVER do what you do. Ugh, I HATE staying home. I HAVE to have ME time."


I never know just how to respond.

"Yeah, I hate 'ME' time. In fact, I never go anywhere. I love to stay home so much and am such a simpleton that it never occurred to me that I might feel more special and cool if I got showered each day and had a fulfilling career. In fact, can you hold this baby for a minute and keep an eye on that wild three year old, I'm gonna go work on my resume!"

heh heh

Instead I usually end up quoting some tired cliche like, "well, it's not always easy, but we do our best..."

Lame, but true.

I am not perfect. I am NOT someone who feels content 100% of the time cleaning, cooking, changing diapers, scolding, budgeting, negotiating with a toddler, figuring out what a non-verbal baby is screaming about for over 20 minutes....etc.

I am frustrated that my three-year-old refuses to potty train and that my one-year-old refuses to walk.

I think I need to delete my facebook account, because every time I get in touch with another old classmate I am a little taken aback at how glamorous and carefree a life that is career and travel driven can seem.

In fact, as long as I am confessing things here, every once is a great while, when I've had a particularity trying day with the kiddos, I job search. I get on craigslist and the like and look for work. I do. I think: "I'm not cut out for this. We would be better off financially if I worked. I'm gonna go crazy staying home all day. The kids might be better off if they had someone more patient looking after them all day..." and that's where it stops for me.

I can't do it.

I can't let someone else spend the day with MY children. I am sure I would have to get used to the idea if we were completely without choice, but I lived with my in-laws for a whole year and trespassed upon their kindness when we all probably wanted our own space just so I could be the one reading to the babes. Feeding them lunch. Having learning time with Ambrose while Asher naps in the next room. Teaching Ambrose about love and patience as I conquer my own temper by not screaming at him when he drops chocolate chips all over the new, fancy rug. Falling in love over and over as the cranky, teething baby stops screaming and reaches for my face to kiss and slobber on. The list can go on and on.

Today I was feeling a little sick and, consequently, sorry for myself that my apartment is in serious need of scrubbing and I have no energy to do it. My kids were in various amounts of PJs and lack of clothing, running around with crumbs on their faces and every surface they touched, and there was an endless stream of kid shows blaring in the background that no one was watching. This is the kind of stay-at-home clatter that makes me chuckle as I reach for a cloth to clean it all up on a good day. Today... I wasn't feelin' it. I put Asher down for his nap and he screamed himself to sleep for a good 15 minutes while I lectured Ambrose on keeping quiet while the baby tried to get to sleep. I finally sent him downstairs to get all that wildness out on the lawn and patio toys as I situated myself on the dirty stairs to watch him.

I was thinking it all over as I often do. The way I just don't feel cut out for this sometimes and how better off we all might be if I even just found a part time gig.

Then Ambrose stood at the screen door looking at me and whispered with a knowing grin on his face, "Hi mama."
"Hi buddy," I whispered back with a smile, "I'm really really proud of you for remembering to whisper."

He quietly opened the door and tip toed up the two stairs to where I was sitting. Sat down just how I was on the stair, carefully copying me, and then put his chubby little feet on my lap, his arm around my neck, and asked me in a whisper, "Mama, are we best friends?"

Oh my.

My eyes filled with tears.

"What do you think?" I asked him (trying to keep the pathetic hopefulness out of my tone as best I could).

"Yeah, I think we really are."

"Good. I think we are too!" came my enthusiastic whisper.

Am I saying that if you don't stay home with your children you will never have these moments?? OF COURSE NOT! I don't even think I have a final resolved thought for this post other than: it is not easy for anyone to stay at home, but my choice to do so has taught me so much and bonded me to my children in a way that gives me great joy.

There are the hard moments, the sad moments, the frustrating moments and everything in between, but moments like that really seal the deal for me and make me feel good about my choice. They make me feel like I have purpose and that all the teachings and struggles and times when I have been patient have been pushing us to something good.

I have to feel that or I wouldn't be doing what I am doing.

I feel that I have about five years from the minute my children are born in which they are all mine without too much outside distraction and influence for better or for worse. Only five years in the entire span of our lives. I'm going to use this time to conquer my selfishness, my rough edges, show them unconditional love, teach them, nourish them, and bond them to me any way I can so when they start to spread their wings I can feel secure that I did my best and that they know they are loved.

To each his or her own. This is how I feel about my family. You know what is best for yours. I'm going to choose to not be offended by what I read from here on out because my best friend Ambrose needs someone to build a train track with him and that's more fun than feeling irked.


Henke Family said...

Thank you Stephanie for having the courage to post this....I feel it.
I really do. It seems like it wasn't that long ago when your same thoughts were clamoring around in my own head. I am a fiddle teacher...or was....I was posed with the same dilemma...... But I can say I have never regretted ever once that I am home with my kids ....teaching...loving....playing...cleaning....scolding...losing my marbles....realizing that there just may be a monster living in me when provoked...learning to settle down...teaching...playing...loving...
Its a wonderful cycle called motherhood that you can get in no other way unless you are in the thick of it. This is where some other moms may disagree with me. but that's okay.....this is my soapbox/blogger-comment space not theirs.
So there you have it....I agree with you. I love that you are immersing yourself in this subject heart and soul.....just that alone shows your devotion to your kids and willingness to sacrifice anything for them.

lizzie said...

I hear you. And, actually, I have a post up my sleeve that runs in a similar vein . . . although it's a bit different. I hope to get it up in the next few days, but until I do I will just say that being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest job in the world and women who "just can't do it" are pansies.

I kid. But it does take a serious amount of mental and emotional toughness to neglect yourself for so long at the expense of creatures who are unable to comprehend the sacrifice. Seriously.

Megan and Keli'i said...

I loved this post. Go read my Mother's Day post. You will know what I mean...

This is one of those subjects that every single person needs to make their own choice, stay at home or not, and it's different for everyone depending on finances and stuff, but there is nothing no substitute for having a loving parent in the home. None whatsoever.

And hello? What we're doing here, putting our lives on hold for others, is super, super hard. But don't you think it's just so worth it?

The problem is is that we live during "generation me" and sometimes people can mistake lack of career and lack of glamour as a sign of weakness instead of selflessness.

liko said...

amen, sister.

i feel like bawling because my five years are nearly up!!! :-(

sometimes i reflect back on how good or bad a mother i have been in these few years. i pray they remember the good and forget the bad. we are all learning. we can all use self-improvement. as my days are numbered, i think about how quickly time is flying by. i remember being a kindergartner and now i have one. soon she will be in high school. time doesn't stop. and as a working or stay-at-home mom, what matters most is how we choose to spend time we get with our children and families.

here's to making it count!!!

boo face mcjones said...

i feel like this is something i have been wrestling with since the early days at byu-i when you were judged if your major wasn't "i just want to be a mom."

and that bothered me. not because being a mom isn't significant, but because it is the most important. it deserves more than the title of "just being a mom."

i know that even cutting back to part-time, i would get comments from people like "wow, i wish i were in a position to be part-time. i would love to have more time for myself." and i'm sure they didn't mean anything personal, but it's hard to not interpret it as, "wow, that must be nice to be so lazy and take all that time to hang out at home" with some false assumption that i married into a money train.

but you know, i know the truth about my family just like you know the truth about yours. and when it's right, you know it's right for you. in my incredibly short time as a mom, i have quickly learned that going to a job is easy. the hard work is at home with a needy, helpless, unaware little one that relies on you for everything. but it's worth digging your heels in and going for.

but i believe in the promise that "no success can compensate for failure in the home."

love you. and your best friend ambrose (that might have made me cry a bit.)

and p.s. don't get rid of your facebook account. lurky moms like me like to look at your page and admire your wonderful life.

liko said...

haven't been online for three days. heehee.
read the last three posts and i am loving the consistent blogging!!
and yay for you swimming every morning!! great workout that's easy on the body. i feel i no longer have a metabolism. yay for getting old.

jen said...

This post....I guess I don't have words for it. But I really liked it and I'm probably going to link to it on my blog.

sheila said...

I feel the same way. I CANNOT have someone else go through those special experiences that only a mother should. Yes it gets hard. Like, really hard. Geez and I only have one kid!! I'll be joining your ranks soon.

.Ang. said...

I was thinking about you all day today! I should have stopped by or something but I was having a day much like this!!

well, maybe that's a lie.. It's been about a week now!

lets get together and get the kids playing and talk about how awesome it is to be a mom!!!



Lindsey said...

I couldn't agree more! I am the only one who can be a mom to my kids...no one else would love the job like I do!

TanuvasaCasa said...

I love it! your whole best friends story made me tear up a bit. the whole blog post spoke to my soul. and I could TOTALLY hear your voice in my head as you sighed and said ""well, it's not always easy, but we do our best..."

That made me laugh out loud because I could SO clearly hear the exact way you'd say it. I love you steph, you're so YOU!

melissa marie said...

and nice photos to go along with it.

and i think becca's use of the phrase "money train" was pretty awesome.

Carrie said...

My favorite line is the one where people say how lucky I am to be able to afford to stay home... I think, "You have no idea what sacrifices we make so i can be home." This was hard for me for a long long time, and I still have little moments (on facebook! Ak!) where I see old friends studying fashion or getting phds in chemistry and I feel down about my choice to be home with 3 kids at age 26 but you are so right that just as I've been super grumpy to my kids they are so forgiving and sweet back I feel unworthy to even have the opportunity to learn so much from them and have their unconditional love. You are such a good and inspiring mom/friend.

echo said...

how did i miss this blog post??
you know my feelings on the subject echo yours. we have had many a conversation about that. i love how you are able to put things so eloquently in your writing.
thank you for sharing your feelings. and personally, i feel this is your blog and you are allowed to say what you want. you can't live your 'blog life' worried about how to not offend people. cause then none of us would ever say what we really mean.
i love you

laurel said...

Great post. Great pics. :)

laurel said...

p.s. I think your children are utterly PRECIOUS!!!

Bitty said...

Steph I think you are great and I too got teary-eyed reading this. As you well know I do not have kids and I do work full time. I am working on a "career" and let me just say it's not all it's cracked up to be. I am sure there are many people that get a lot out of their jobs and that's great but in my experience it is a deeply empty kind of success. My heart continually cries out for something more fulfilling; something amazing. This might sound totally silly but many days I feel so insignificant because I kinda am. I could easily be replaced at my job, someone else could walk right in and take my spot and maybe people would notice but they would be fine without me. The work I do is not uniquely mine and it doesn't change a life it barely changes anyones day. Being a mom is so amazing and something that should be taken seriously. You are the only mom those boys have got. You influence means the world to them.

I keep wanting to get rid of my facebook account because I can get a little jealous of all those moms enjoying motherhood. Thick skin, open heart. Just keep making the right choices for you and your family. Try to close ears to those unintentionally judgemental comments people make. We can all just try our best to be effective in our own little sphere. I cannot think of a better way to effect any little sphere than an active and attentive mother.

Bitty said...

P.S. Coming from someone that gets up and goes to work every day, we don't always shower. Take today for example, I am at work wearing cute clothes hoping no one notices how gross I am. But that's just me.

Melissa said...

Yeah I sometimes run across friends and even family on Facebook who make comments like I am doing the best thing i can for my son by going to work everyday. I personally believe that the best thing I can do for my children is to stay at home and love them and teach them the best I can. I usually don't make a comment because I don't want to offend them, because the choice is so personal.
I am glad that you choose to speak your mind, and you do it well. That way the world can get an idea of what it really means to be a stay at home mom from someone who Actually does stay at home with her children from day to day.

Ashley C said...

This is a great post. I couldn't agree more. I hate it when people say to me, "I could never stay home all day long with my kids." Ugh.

Lacey said...

I comment only to bring a different perspective.

My husband graduated from BYU 14 months ago. Our little "surprise," a baby boy, was born 6 months after that. My husband has been unable to find full time work. We depleted our substantial nest egg during the three months of maternity leave I chose to take.

I work three days a week to support our family. No amount of sacrificing or budgeting could allow me to stay at home. (Believe me- I'm a coupon queen and a budget nazi. We share a older car and live in an apartment).

We have been blessed, even throughout the trials of the last year. I am thankful my sister watches my baby while I'm gone. (For free, she's an angel). I'm thankful I have a job that can earn enough money to support us.

I know there are moms out there who CHOOSE to work. And I know they are the ones making those comments you mentioned.

But maybe my thoughts will help the stay-at-home moms count their blessings. I WISH I could stay home. My heart aches as I type this. I never planned to work after I had children. But sometimes we have to do hard things.

Another thought: I know the work of a SAHM never ends. But as a working mom, I can also say that it is so hard to balance life. I have a mountain of laundry, dinner to make, and a house to clean AFTER a long day of working. I get up with my teething 8 month-old four times a night and then wake up to get ready for work while he sleeps in the room next door. I pump twice a day at work, trying so hard to exclusively nurse until he hits that one year mark. I'm trying so hard to minimize the effects that our financial situation will have on my baby.

And I'm the lucky one. I only work three days a week. There are moms working full time out of necessity. Not to mention any single moms. Wow, I have it good.

I hope my remarks haven't offended you or any readers that might see this. I simply hope that the SAHMs don't take their opportunity for granted.

I don't think you are "just a mom." You have my dream job.

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