As I've shared in the past, being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) was never a lifelong dream of mine. I always wanted to have children, but I didn't think the domestic life was for me. I disliked babysitting and definitely didn't like housework (what kid does?) I wanted to finish college and go on to be a lawyer, or own and manage an art gallery (strange dream, I know) or become a published author. Thank goodness God had a better plan for me. People can change, and God changed me that's for sure. He gave me a "mother heart," and I will be forever indebted to the Lord for guiding me towards this life I was meant to live.
Growing up spending most of my days in daycare, I didn't learn domestic skills, nor did I have any desire to do so. So, as you can imagine, making the transition to life without kids to being a SAHM was tumultuous for me. And I can say, after nearly 10 years at it, I've learned a lot and still have a lot to learn. In fact, I am constantly reading books by other women who have been at this for even longer than I have. I realize that most women come into the job of motherhood knowing what it has taken me 10 years to learn, but if anything here can be of use to anyone, then I will have felt satisfied.
First, let's just get the obvious out of the way. Motherhood is harder than it looks. Nuff' said.
Another rather sobering revelation I've had since becoming a mother has been that no matter what you say prior to having kids that your kids will never do or what you will never do (i.e. "my kids will never behave like that in public...", "my kids will never have disastrous rooms", "my kids will never leave the house with messy hair", "I will never be 15 minutes late for my appointments", "I will never yell at my kids") it will happen! It's almost like God's way of teaching you humility and compassion. I never roll my eyes at the child throwing a fit in the grocery store anymore because I am just thankful that it isn't one of my kids! Instead I try to reach out to the poor mom and tell her she's doing a great job and to hang in there.
I've also been blessed with the realization that no matter how much we want to take credit for our kids' behavior, we can't. At the end of the day, they make their own decisions and they are who they are. While in many cases you can take credit for helping or hindering their progress, your children are in charge of who they become as adults. Not only that, but God is really in charge much more than we as parents are (and thank goodness too!)
This realization came to me when one of my children wasn't performing well in school, while another one was excelling. We used the same parenting, the same diligence, the same dedication towards both children, but still, there was a disparity between the two. I stopped taking my child's failures so personally. At the same time, I learned I couldn't boast, or take any credit for my other child's success in school. It's like that with all other aspects of their performance as well. You can save yourself a lot of unnecessary guilt and on the other side of the coin, an excess of pride regarding your parenting. Celebrate the success and give credit where it belongs, to God and to them.
As a new mom I struggled with finding a purpose. I had dropped out of college. I spent all my days and nights tending to a fussy baby who nursed constantly. I remember watching some type of Birthing story show on TLC everyday and crying my eyes out at the end of every episode. I had postpartum depression. My body had changed, and I felt unattractive. I wasn't adjusting well to my new life. We had a small apartment that only took minutes a day to clean, and aside from holding my newborn all day, there wasn't much for me to do. I had no adult interaction, no intellectual stimulation and I felt unimportant and insignificant.
At one point, while talking to a friend about my feelings I asked her "is it bad that I don't feel like motherhood is enough for me? I mean, is it bad to think that I don't want to just be a mom?" She felt the same way as I did. I prayed many nights to know my purpose and to feel satisfaction and completion from being "just a mom." Thankfully, the Lord heard my prayers and gave me the assurance that I so desperately needed.
Being a mom is a divine calling. It's the greatest job, the highest calling, the most important thing I will do on this earth. And I'm not just saying that. I believe it with every fiber of my being. I have received a very sure witness that motherhood is divine and as close to godliness as any other role. Even if the tasks seem mundane, the job thankless and the work never-ending, it is God's work. You are His hands. If you don't already feel this in your heart, pray for the same assurance and peace and it will come. I promise you that.
This one goes back to my revelation about pre-parenthood assumptions. Before I was a SAHM, I thought that all they did was watch tv, talk on the phone, and prepare the occasional meal. Boy was I wrong, and again served a slice of humble pie. Being a SAHM is a full-time job. Not only is it full-time, it's over-time, it's all-the-time. There are no time cards to punch and clock-out. If your child needs you at 3am, you need to be ready. You're on call 24 hours a day.
Let me also say, motherhood is rewarding. It's not all hard work, cleaning up throw-up, changing dirty diapers, scrubbing toilets and doing dishes. There are moments of bliss. There are moments of joy. If you are looking for the good, you will most surely find it. You will find it in cuddles with your children, in the simple accomplishments of a toddler, in the smell of a newborn. Bliss is all around you as a stay-at-home mom, but blink, and you might miss it.
Along those same lines, being a SAHM is fun. I get to do several things I'd never dreamed of doing or enjoying for that matter, that I have come to thoroughly love, like decorating, photography and cooking. Finding ways to use my talents and develop new ones is one of the funnest parts of homemaking.
You don't have to lose your identity or hobbies as a SAHM. I am also a personal trainer. I work 1-2 nights per week after the kids are in bed and I love it. I also make sure I get time to workout, have girl's outings, visit with friends, etc. Not only do you NOT have to lose your identity, if you don't continue to do things you love and things that challenge you, you will get depressed. Period. Learning this was one of the ways I dealt with the depression I mentioned earlier that I experienced while trying to adjust to life as a SAHM.
Last and most importantly, I have learned the need to rely upon the Lord in this holy calling. I cannot do it alone. You cannot do it alone. Our efforts will always fall short. I do all that I can and then I trust in the Lord to make up the difference. And He will. These precious children of mine first belonged to our loving Father in Heaven. He knows them better than Tim and I. He knows what they need. The more we as parents involve Heavenly Father in our decision making and parenting, the easier it is and the more successful we become. I am so grateful to a merciful and loving Heavenly Father and a Savior who showed us who we need to become in order to raise happy, successful children and help them and ourselves eventually attain our Heavenly Bliss in the life to come.
If you liked this post, please share with your friends and family or someone you feel would benefit from reading it! Also, I would love to hear from you, what have you learned while embarking on your motherhood journey?