Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I'm a Stay-at-Home Mom Thank You Very Much

I was walking out of Walmart, bag of groceries in hand, when I bumped into an acquaintance from church.
"Hi" she said
"How are you doing?" I said.
"Not bad, how's the new job?" She asked.
"Actually I quit."
You could hear crickets chirping for a brief moment as she processed it, and then with a big gasp of horror she said the word I dread every time  I tell someone I am once again a stay at home mom, "WHY?"
Let me give you a little background on the situation.
Life has been rather tumultuous the last six months. For the first time since I became mother I stepped outside my door and got a job. Yes I was a working mother. For three months I worked the graveyard shift at Walmart. I continued to do my best to fulfill my role as a mother. My sweetheart did his part, taking shifts with the kids when he was home, but still once a week at least I would go 48 hours or more without sleep. I began to understand why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I began to search for another job and quickly found a call center. The amount of negativity on the phones was often overwhelming, and in addition to that I came down with pneumonia. After spending a week at home with my children, I began to realize something. Despite the fact I was so sick the house was cleaner, the children were happier, and we hadn't eaten out in a week.
I felt home calling to me. I missed being able to kiss my children whenever the heck I want, and I missed being a happy mom. So after a lot of prayer and soul searching my husband and I decided that I would once again be a stay-at-home mom. I felt such a powerful feeling of joy and relief when I got off the phone after quitting my job and was able to say "I am a homemaker again."

Getting out into the work place taught me many things. One, if I have to get a job I can. One of my deepest fears before I worked was that if anything should happen to my sweetheart the large gap in my employment history would prevent me from finding employment. Not only did I find a job, but I found it the first day I looked. Walmart is not the most glamorous job, but it certainly fulfilled our needs. Not only did I nail the interview, but I was able to draw upon my experiences as a stay at home mom. The second thing is,  it is okay to rely on my husband. He is a parent too, and he has the same responsibilities as I do to bring up some (hopefully) well-adjusted little people. Three, it is also okay to ask for help from other people. In desperation I searched for someone to take my daughter to school so I would not have to walk the half-mile there and back on no sleep. One sweet gal from my church stepped in and took her as often as she could. The last thing that I gained from working outside the home is a greater appreciation for the working mother. It is hard to be a working mother and a good mother. There are a lot of excellent working mothers out there, and I am in awe of them.

I have been unemployed for a little over a month now. My house still isn't immaculate, and I am pinching pennies three times before I let them go, but I am happier overall. My husband has a fantastic schedule, and because I am not working I get to spend so much more time with him. I would even say that despite all the stresses we still have in our lives I am happy. For the first time in months I feel joy on a regular basis.

Often the conversations I have with people about my state of employment elicit responses very similar to the one I listed above. People are shocked that I could possibly be happier at home. They seem confused as to why I would choose to struggle a little more financially in order to spend my time with three very time consuming, very exhausting little ones. Often my response to their inquiries has been " I just felt like I needed to be home with the kids." A response that feels rather inadequate.
Sometimes I want to push past the polite facade I put up and just snap and say "I'm a stay-at-home mom thank you very much, and I like  it that way." Shouldn't it be enough that instead of making money, I spend my time learning to save it, learning to live with my means? Shouldn't it be enough that I am making choices in my life for my own happiness and the happiness of my family?

"Oh , your just a stay-at-home mom."These used to be words I dreaded hearing. It felt as though my lack of employment meant that I was somehow less than your average woman. However, now I know that as long as I am making the decisions I know to be right, the decisions that bring me joy and satisfaction, I am enough.