A mother staying at home with her children is not revolutionary. This, I know. There is nothing unusual or particularly interesting about it. But what I didn’t know when I decided to quit my job to stay at home full-time is how incredibly challenging and long my days would be. What I want you to know is that staying at home with my children does not always feel like “enough” for me as I had always envisioned it would.
Don’t get me wrong – I feel fortunate to be home with my children, but some days are just not easy. So many older moms love to say to me, “Enjoy every moment because it goes by too quickly.” But as a girlfriend so aptly pointed out – no one says that to the person heading out the door to their 40-hour a week job. Why do they feel the need to say it to mothers, especially those who stay at home? No one can enjoy every second of any job. And this particular job offers virtually no breaks. And this job physically and emotionally wears on you arguably more than most others. There are days when I feel all I did was harp on them and ask for listening ears. Some days I am so tired of hearing myself talk. Some days every single thing feels hard. Some days I don’t go to the bathroom alone all day – not even once.
There are many benefits I enjoy from not working outside the home, of course. I don’t miss any of my children’s milestones. I don’t have the “mommy guilt” some of my working mom friends say they experience from being away. But on the other hand, it’s hard being “on” 24 hours a day. No one can be great at a job all the time when there’s no start or end to your workday.
Perhaps it’s because this is a tough season with my children so small – it’s tiring and draining. But I’m sure if I was working I would be just as exhausted, if not more. I think I might be sad about missing my children’s day-to-day activities, but then I also feel envious of adult conversation, driving places alone, and feeling a sense of purpose in other areas.
What I have found to be necessary in this season of life is self-care. Sometimes that looks like booking a sitter so I can have a break. Other times it looks like a pedicure, a workout or simply a bubble bath at the end of a hard day. It is recognizing my own needs and what helps me to refuel and pour back into my kids.
I have also found that when I have a creative outlet, staying at home feels more rewarding. Whether that is decorating my house or writing my blog, I know I need those things that feed my soul in addition to my kids. I am a whole person and had a very full, wonderful life before my children were born. I don’t feel that I need to put aside the very core of who I am in order to be a great mom. If anything, I am learning that valuing the person I was made to be is what actually makes me the best mother for my children.