Last week I got "Facebook-ed" by a friend, and the elusive world of technology, IMing, myspace-ing, and AIMing dropped like a rock into my lap. Suddenly, people I knew from high school, many of whom I haven't thought about or heard from since the day I graduated and quickly got the heck out of dodge, appeared on my computer screen.....twenty plus years older. I was fascinated. As I read through their profiles, whereabouts, and current happenings, my own life seemed to become less and less exciting. These people-- with whom I traded crayons, shared lockers, wandered back roads, and toilet papered houses--are, like, really successful. They have important careers and lucrative businesses. They are dating or working with famous people, in grad school, or vacationing in places I cannot pronounce.
And then there's me. My Facebook profile reads " Um, yeah, like, I stay at home all day with three girls who attach themselves to my ankles as I walk around the house picking up princess shoes, Little People, and cereal from yesterday morning. I like to blog. I can also recite every word to all 241 Barney episodes, and I have a fairly extensive knowledge of barbie anatomy, wardrobe and accessories. Yea me!"
So that got me thinking about my job as a STAY-AT-HOME-MOM.
I started pondering the issue of what it means to be a stay-at home-mom these days. I have been immensely blessed to have a full repertoire of friends who do a fantastic job of being at-home mommies. Their example has provided me with encouragement, motivation, aspiration....my own how-to manual. I know that God purposed these women into my life because I was not fortunate enough to have a mom who stayed home with my sister and me. We were your typical latch-key children of the 70's.
But the question isn't to work or not to work. The question is what does a stay-at-home-mom do? What does she look like? What is her daily schedule? I have noticed that many moms are transitioning from "moms at home with their children" to "house wives." Do you know the difference? Let me explain.
A few months ago, I was at the park with my playgroup where I met a new mom who was pushing her twin boys on the swing. We covered the usual introductions: where do you live? how old are your kids? where do they go to school? how long did you breastfeed? how much money does your husband make? do you have any communicable diseases? etc. and then she asked if I stayed home with my girls.
"Yes, I do," I replied.
"Me, too," she responded, then paused and said, "Actually, I'm more of a house wife.....I stay home, but my kids go to daycare."
Then, I did what any stay-at-home-baby-wearing-mommy would do: I judged her. My judgement was not nice.
And there it was.....her honest answer met with the judging thoughts of my opinion.
Anyway, from that day forward I have thought about this mom and about what it means to be at home with my kids. I've noticed that more and more these days, many stay-at-home-mommies are becoming quite busy with things that pull them away from the duties of mommy hood. I was guilty of this same busy-ness last fall. In an effort to have each day planned, I signed up Landrie for pre-school and Emerie for two days of Mother's Day Out. I added a Monday morning bible study. I scheduled a play group for Fridays. I enrolled Landrie in gymnastics on Wednesdays. I decided to work out twice a week. And somewhere in the midst of that busy schedule, I realized that most of my day was spent away from my children. And then a question popped into my brain: at what point is a stay-at-home-mom sacrificing the "mom" part of the job for her own "stuff"?
I took a deep breath, a step back, and realized that something had to be cut out. So I ditched the work outs (lucky me). I dropped one day of Mother's Day Out. We gave up gymnastics. I basically scaled back the schedule, and even cut out some of my personal hobbies like digital scrapbooking and designing....all of the things that bit-by-bit chipped away at my time with my girls.
Listen, I love free childcare. I love play groups. I love Mother's Day Out. Don't get me wrong....sometimes the Monday morning bible study with free childcare is the only thing that gets me through the day. But as with everything, being a mom is a discipline. It's choosing what is needed over what is wanted. It's giving up something for yourself for someone else. It's saying "no" to countless volunteer opportunities. It's accepting that body flab is okay and that your children will not need psychotherapy because you aren't up to date on their scrapbooks. Being a stay-at-home mom requires balance. A "no" for every "yes".... a hand that spanks but also hugs...."me" time as well as "we" time....and daily dying to self, over and over and over again as we choose to put our kids first. It's a hard, sometimes thankless job, that God has prepared and purposed me for. And I accept His challenge.
I choose this job....for them.
It may not make an exciting Facebook profile, but these girls make my job so very, very worth it.....