Calling all Stay At Home Parents!
Being a stay at home mom or dad (SAHM or SAHD) means different things to different people. It took me the full forty weeks of pregnancy to think and journal about what it meant for me.
My husband I decided together that I would stay with Minkie (the nickname for our daughter!). I wasn't sure how long I'd want with my baby before having to return to a job I wasn't sure I wanted. (It was a good job with great co-workers but I was ready for a change.) I knew I wanted to give the whole bonding thing as much time as possible. And I knew I have my whole life to work, but a limited time for me to interact with the baby while she was still a baby. Finally, my husband and I decided we're happy living very simply and renting a one bedroom apartment in order to live on one income. So, there it was- staying at home it would be.
At first, I was totally dreading it. Pregnancy I enjoyed, but motherhood? At home? My first thought was "dreary!" I imagined nothing but poop, dishes, and a slow disintegration of my personality into a puddle of spit up. I was feeling pretty low about it. That motherhood was nothing special, that the work of raising a child was mundane. And that I was *mediocre* and *boring* because that's what I was going to do, instead of trying to find a new job.
Then I decided to redefine SAHMing. Because if I didn't, I knew I'd go crazy. I have a law degree, darn it. I did good work at good nonprofits and enjoyed it. So this new chapter of life needed to be fulfilling. I didn't want to feel like I was wasting time being mediocre. By the time I was around forty weeks, I decided that feeling mediocre was going to lead to doing a mediocre job of mothering. I was going to be fabulous! Creative! And most of all, I was going to find happiness in this new role.
Minkie came along, and the work of handling a newborn meant that I was too busy to mope around. A few months into it, I realized that I was really enjoying myself. And interestingly enough, all my skills were coming together and I was using them all to raise her the best way I knew how-- with love, patience, compassion, humor.
I realized that motherhood liberated me in interesting ways. I speak up more now. I take care of myself well, without apologizing or feeling guilty. And not just because taking care of myself means that I can be there for my family. I do it because I like me and want to care for me, and the simple truth of that became clearer when I became a mother, somehow.
I'm part of a great moms' group, and I have a loving circle of friends who, though mostly without kids, are totally easygoing and love Minkie and still include me in fun plans. This helps!
And joining MomsRising helped immeasurably! I feel like it's been a great way to continue honing the advocacy skills I picked up in law school. And it feels good to stand up for things I believe in. I believed in and worked for mothers' rights before I actually had kids, but now that Minkie's here, it's viscerally important to me to speak up for mothers.
SAHMing and volunteering gives me more fulfillment than I'd ever thought possible. And boy was I a skeptic. But still, I know I want to return to the world of paid work. We're not going to live in this rented tiny apartment forever. But that's for another blog...
So, let's hear it- the good, the bad and the ugly from SAHMs!