For years, I told myself I would never be a stay-at-home mom. I told myself I would be too overwhelmed, I wouldn’t feel fulfilled, and I wasn’t capable of staying at home instead of working in the career field. And I was right! But gosh, I was so, so wrong.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom, but not by choice. She stayed home because childcare was too expensive for three kids. Especially in the earlier years of my childhood, my mom would be very clear that she would rather be working out of the home than with us.
I thought if I tried to be a stay-at-home mom instead of working outside the home that I would end up feeling resentful towards my kids. In my mind, it would be best for them if I didn’t stay home.
I heard legends of women who loved being stay-at-home moms. Where I grew up, I never knew a stay-at-home mom who said they enjoyed their time with their children and were sad to see them leave for school. If anything, they were pushing them out the door saying, “Bye, Felicia!”
I thought these happy, stay-at-home moms were a myth–until I met a few.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way!” they would exclaim with joy.
Why did they seem to enjoy it so much? What caused them to feel like they had a purpose even though they weren’t getting paid? How did they not go stir-crazy being at home all the time?
When we first got married, my husband and I discussed our plans for child-rearing. I was very adamant that I didn’t think I could be a stay-at-home mom and that I had to at least work outside the home a couple of days a week to keep my sanity.
Then our first baby came. I worked four days a week outside of the home while my daughter was with a sitter. And it was so hard being away from her!
Then we became pregnant again.
A few months before my son was born, I felt a strong pull to stay at home with them.
Even though I had that pull, I didn’t know how to carry it out.
I was missing two very essential pieces of understanding:
- Homemaking and being a stay at home mom is a valuable role in society and the family.
- Homemaking and being a stay at home mom is a learned skill.
I worked for pay since I was thirteen years old. I had never been without a job providing for myself or my family for many years. Yet, all of a sudden, I had to quit cold turkey for a job where you were literally on-call 24/7 with no pay?
In my mind, I was only contributing to the family if I was bringing in money.
Through some soul-searching, I had to come to a place of understanding the rewards of investing and influencing my children’s social, physical, and spiritual beings. I had to come to a place of understanding no one else could do it as well as I could and how I wanted it to be carried out based on my values and my beliefs. I had to come to a place of understanding the honor of having that much influence in a person’s life, unlike any other relationship, and how to be intentional with it.
When I first became a stay at home mom, I didn’t understand why it was so hard. Wouldn’t I just know how? Isn’t that part of being a woman?
I had to learn that the skills necessary to be a stay at home mom do not come naturally– they are an acquired skill.
No one wakes up and decides to become a doctor all because they seem gifted in putting band-aids on papercuts. No one wakes up and knows how to run a household, organize routines, meal plan, manage schedules, discipline children, clean a house well and consistently, educate children, and create a place of stability for your family without education! Homemaking is a learned skill that requires research, study, trial and error, critical thinking, and on the job training.
Becoming the CEO of the home doesn’t happen by chance. It happens through intentional planning and practice.
Putting my comparison blinders on, I went to work by watching mom vlogs on YouTube, reading books and articles, listening to podcasts and asking questions of other moms who had children older than me. I began to cast a vision for what culture I wanted for my family. I began to create plans and strategies from the vision and carry them out in a grace-filled way. I began to make a home, versus surviving on auto-pilot.
This was the ultimate game-changer.
I no longer felt incompetent as a stay-at-home mom. The shame of feeling like a failure as a woman and mom went away the moment I realized that if I was struggling with an area, all I needed was more information.
I realized I could do this. Fear and lack of education are what held me back from being a stay-at-home mom.
And now, even with the hard days, like with any career, I do feel happy, fulfilled, and enjoy being a stay at home mom.