It’s a phrase that I’ve heard too often since becoming a mother: “I was a great parent, until I became one.” In the age of social media and constant news coverage there is an unprecedented amount of mom-shaming going on, and it’s often coming from the direction of non-parents!! Newsflash: Moming is HARD. Whether you stay at home, work from home, or work outside the home! No matter which way you slice it- this “job” is not for the faint-hearted.
I had my firstborn at the age of 23. I postponed student teaching to have him. When he was three months old I went back to school, back to work. I was a full-time student, full-time teacher AND a full-time mom. Every spare moment, every holiday, every snow day (my personal favorite) was spent with intention. I crafted developmental activities, spread out building blocks, put together puzzles, and read endless books. I felt like a SUPERmom!
When I was in my second year of teaching I became pregnant with our daughter, and my husband and I decided that I would stay home after the year ended. I had grand plans of being the BEST stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) ever! If I was this amazing now, imagine the incredible things I could accomplish with my kids when I was with them full-time!! I was thrilled with the idea! “Staying home will be SO easy compared to what I’ve been doing! I’ll be there for every milestone, be able to teach my 2-year-old to count, spell his name, and probably add and subtract before the end of the summer!” (yeah, right.) I thought my dreams had come true!
On May 31, 2015 we welcomed little Iris Leigh into our lives, and my world was totally rocked! All my visions of moming grandeur were smashed! Just when I was getting the hang of two life-sucking children (I kid), SURPRISE! I became pregnant with our son, Everett when Iris was just 8 weeks old. Yeah. These two little munchkins came into the world and totally changed my idea of what a SAHM does. In case you don’t know, let me break it down for you:
A stay-at-home-mom is superwoman. She wakes up to brave an everyday storm, and I’m not just talking about the tornado of toys! Some days are perfect weather days. Everyone loves those! Ya know, the perfect sunny and 75 degree day. Children are happy, pleasant, and adjust well to everything going on that day. Three gourmet meals are whipped up and put out on the perfect place settings. Laundry? Check! House dusted? Check! Freshly baked cookies? Let’s not get crazy. This is what I like to call my June Cleaver days. And they almost NEVER happen, let’s get real.
Then there are the fair-weather days. Not completely unpleasant. I imagine these days to be a balmy, cloudy 60 degree day. Occasional meltdowns, laundry is at least in the dryer (maybe run through a couple times), and everyone eats relatively well on some kind of plate. These days I go to bed feeling like a champion, and I would say the majority of my days at home with my kids fall under this category.
And finally, there are the stormy days. Call them what you will: tornado, hurricane, ice storm, wildfire, but they SUCK! Everyone is out of sorts. Something is majorly off! I’m talking about the days that end (or maybe even begin) with all. the. tears. Everyone’s crying. The baby, the toddler, the kid, the dog, the fish, and YOU! That laundry? Not even in the washer. Those meals? Who’s making them? The toys? Everywhere. But really that doesn’t matter because all your child wants to do is watch Octonauts. And you let them because you just want some peace and quiet! Which is unlikely given your newborn is hungry and screaming, and the 1 year old is climbing into the windowsill 3 feet off the ground. And the dog is whining to go outside. Kick the dog out, put on Octonauts, pop a paci and the baby’s mouth, save the 1 year old from certain death (or at least a broken limb), and take a DEEEEEEP breath! Close your eyes so you don’t see the mess, or go to the bathroom (make sure to LOCK THE DOOR) and dream of creme brulee and a hot french press. Where’s my caffeine!?!? These days happen far more often then I’d like to admit, but despite the laundry, the meltdowns, and the three-day-old leftovers you just threw in the microwave for lunch, you have to open your eyes and realize that your children still love you. And you love them! They are your whole world! You’ll want to scoop them up and hold them forever! But not too long, because the microwave just beeped, and you’ve got to get that unevenly heated spaghetti onto a plate!
I’d like to tell you that I’ve figured it out by now, that we’ve settled into a routine. That my three-year-old is potty trained (don’t judge- he’s not even close) and my 18-month-old can sing her ABCs. I’d love to say that my Pinterest boards are inspiring new masterpieces at my house, and that the laundry is hung up in the closet everyday. Well, that’s just not where we are! I’m struggling in this business. I get caught up in the need for a clean house, the desire for a few moments of peace, and the expectation to have gourmet meals every night. My sweet husband has bore the burden of many household chores, and I’m so grateful! But that doesn’t change the fact that I feel that I should be doing them, and doing them BETTER since I’m “just a mom” now. (Remember my word for this year? Enough…) That could very well be JUST about the most insulting thing you could say to a woman who has chosen this profession- and it IS a profession. Oh, I’m just throwing all my efforts into raising responsible, loving, healthy, Godly, well-adjusted members of society. You’re welcome.
I’m still waiting for the Craft Queen and Cleaning Fairy to show up at my house, but I guess they’re backed up. My days are filled with little voices constantly reminding me of how blessed I am! I hear little footsteps running through my house, little giggles ringing in the air, and I count it worth the cost of my clean house, my hot coffee, and my momentary peace.
If you’re a SAHM, I applaud you. If you’re a mom who works outside the home, I applaud you! I believe people need to be valued and respected outside of what they DO. Whether you spend your day covered in applesauce and spit-up (my personal fave combo), or you wear a pencil skirt and stilettos, or scrubs, slacks, or labeled shirts and come home to a family that needs dinner made, laundry done, and quality time you are ENOUGH!! You can do hard things!! You go, mom!!
I’d love to stay and chat, but the baby just woke up from his nap, and I just remembered that the 18 month old hasn’t had breakfast… Can I count this as a fair weather day?