What Staying-at-Home Is Really Like
Well, it's been almost six months since I made the huge life decision to become a stay at home Mommy. So I figured it's about time for an update.
I get asked "how's it going" all the time. But every time someone asks, I'm convinced they want the abridged answer of "wonderful." So that's what they get. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about how it's really going.
For the record, I haven't lied. It is wonderful.
I wake up every morning feeling so blessed to be able to witness every moment of my child's day. We have a new relationship, Isaiah and I. And that part is hard for me to explain. It's not that I was any less of a Mommy when I was working, but our existence together was different. I was his Mommy, and he was my son.
But these days, we are one in the same. We know each others' heart and soul. We have inside jokes for miles, our own looks and glances, and even our own language at times. We know how to read each other, with or without words.
He also has a new sense of security. It's intangible. But I feel it every time we are together. I was always his Mommy. But now I'm "Mommy" (he even says my name differently). He knows, deep down in his heart that I will never leave him, always love him, protect him, teach him, and yes... even scold him if he deserves it.
But there's more to the story.
Wonderful is not the same thing as easy.
We have struggles. Plenty of them. We have good days and bad days. I mess up as a Mommy all the time (and promptly beat myself up for it).
There are days when I have absolutely no human contact other than a babbling two-year old. There are days when a trip to Target feels like a vacation. And there are days when when I want to crawl in bed at 7:30pm, pull the covers over my head, and cry from exhaustion.
But here's the clincher: My worst day at home, is better than any of my best days at the office. Hands down.
The reward is great.
I've only been at this for a few months, but I've already learned a few crucial lessons... some of which I wanted to share, for posterity. So here they are in all their glory.
1. Never compare:
Be your own version of "Mommy." Not your best friend's, not your neighbor's, and not even your own Mother's. Your journey will be unique, and that's what makes it wonderful. You'll have successes AND failures, and those experiences make you the Mommy you are.
Don't compare yourself to other Moms (how they parent, how much fun they are, how creative they are, how involved they are, etc.). You wouldn't dare do that to your child, so don't place the very same burden on yourself. God created you to be EXACTLY who your child needs EXACTLY when they need it. Rest in that. Comparison will only distract you from being the Mommy you were meant to be, and the Mommy that you already are.
2: Go at your own pace:
When I decided to quit, I had one co-worker tell me, "The most successful stay at home moms I have ever known dive in immediately -- setting schedules, play dates, choosing pre-schools, etc." I say that's a load of you-know-what. Go at your own pace. This is a new job, therefore, there is a learning curve like any other position in life. Wait. Watch. And Learn.
As for me? I took some time off. I left a very fast-paced position, filled with hectic schedules, "need it now" deadlines, meetings galore, and a severe lack of bathroom breaks. The last thing I wanted was to carry that with me into my new life. So, I took it slow. Isaiah and I got to know each other. We learned each others' quirks, likes and dislikes. In a way, we were living together for the very first time. Baby steps are important. Six months in and I am just now feeling like I've learned how to walk. And guess what? That's OK.
3. There is no normal:
I hesitated talking about "how it's really going" for months, because I kept waiting for a "normal" week. First the shock of leaving my career had to wear off, then it was Thanksgiving, then we were traveling, then I was pregnant (sick and pregnant mind you), and then it was Christmas. And then it hit me: There is no normal. If you live your days expecting normal, your expectations will never be met. Your child will change every day. Live each day as its own, and roll with the punches. Park dates get scheduled, and stomach bugs happen on the way in the car. You will never have a normal day/week/month. And although it took me a while to get here: Thank God. Because normal is the result of your own plans. And God's are so much greater.
I'll stop here because I feel like I could write a book, and let's face it, I almost have (that is, if anyone is still reading.) But really, stay at home Mommy-hood is a book in the making, every day. And so far, mine's been pretty exciting.
I just can't wait to turn the page... because I know it wont be the same as the last.