Thursday, July 10, 2008

So What Is A Stay At Home Mom Exactly?

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"?

Ouch.


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.....

19 comments:

Kesleigh Castle said...

You got it, Sister... Spoken perfectly! I couldn't possibly agree with you more! My thoughts exactly!!

Rose C said...

Very nicely said! Besides, at least your job isn't exaggerated! You really do have one of the best jobs ever, and people who don't do it often don't know it!

gwsas4 said...

Awesome post, Angela. Incredibly well said! Thanks for putting into words what so many of us are thinking! It's nice to know there's other people out there who have the same feelings/struggles.

KarenD said...

An inspiring word to a new stay-at-home mom who also tries to work from home and struggles to find that balance. Thanks!

Kylie said...

This one actually made me teary. :) Our little ones are only little for a little while! I applaud you for spending time with your girls and sticking up for the rest of us who do the same thing!
Do you remember, it's been maybe 2 years now, Pastor Barry took off on a tangent one morning about stay at home moms (in a good way!) He spouted this whole list of what a stay at home mom is- beautiful descriptive words like "molder of souls" or something like that :) as an answer to the question of "oh, you're just a stay at home mom?" and ended his response list with, "I'm all of these things and you, hmm, you're just a lawyer?" Did I dream this?! It was such a beautiful list- I'd love to get my hands on it and read it every day!

autumnesf said...

Well said. And even though the world would tell you differently, its KL that is getting the biggest benefit right now! And thank goodness for the Monday Morning Ladies and the support it provides!

Amy D. said...

I'm truly impressed that you made such important changes in order to fully gain what God has for you as a mother. What a wonderful example you've set. I just read a really great quote that seems to sum up your decision: "We gain what will last only by giving up what won't."

...And I got a good chuckle from your "usual introduction questions". :)

The Garners said...

Wow--what a wonderful post! I've really been thinking lately about this fall/MDO schedules and how can I better prioritize my time. I want that balance that you mentioned. Our sermon today was on living in light of eternity and making every day count for the Kingdom. I'm so guilty of getting caught up in the things that are not eternal...this post reminded me again that I need to make this a matter of prayer and seek direction for a better way.

Anonymous said...

From the Dad- THANK YOU! for the job you do. I never give pause during the day to wonder if the girls are doing alright and are being cared for. I know they are. There is no better comfort than knowing my daughters are in your hands.

Love you- CB

Dona said...

Uhhhh....


GULP!

Juli said...

LOL! There are so many different types out there. I have a horrible tendency to judge, too. I think most people do, it's a knee-jerk reaction and probably stems from feeling defensive about doing something different than someone else. One time, I was on a message board and a poster told another "you just think that EVERYTHING you do is the RIGHT way to do it". And I thought "well, of course we all do, that's why we choose to do it that way." Then I got really deep (which I usually avoid doing) and thought that maybe, just maybe (hopefully!), the way I do things IS the right way to do them, at least for my family. Our family dynamic would not work for other families, but it works for us. It's funny how God knows just exactly the right kids to send to each parent! ;)

Heather said...

Great post...really makes me thankful for the j-o-b we get to wake up and go to sleep doing each day!! The pic of those cutie pie girls is breathtaking...
BTW, I'd love to hear the scoop on the fabulous lives of those who graduated with you!!

Amy said...

Great post! I have been a stay-at-home-mom for almost 12 years. The first several years I stayed really busy. They were all good activities - many of them the same as the ones that you mentioned - but we spent a lot of time away from home and in a hurry to get to the next place. In the last several years, I have learned the value of giving my kids myself, undistracted, at home... just being together. It is a harder job that way - and sometimes more lonely -but I think that in the long run it is so much better! For all of us. And now that we live that way, there are many times that I do not want to be anywhere else besides with my kiddos.

I don't know you, but from your post and from your blog I can tell that you are a great mommy. The work that you are doing is eternal and very valuable!

Mommyof2 said...

You go, girl. The beauty is also that there is no specific job description, which means noone can be a better one than the other. We are all different, and that is ok!

The 29ers Club said...

OMG! What a moving excerpt from a life in the day! Thank you for the encouragement to continue on steadfastly down the thankless road to shaping souls for Jesus! One day, and not very far off, you will look up and your children will be asking for the keys to the car, and you will know that you have been a very large part of shaping that young man or lady for who they will be in society! What an humbling priveledge! Press on dear friend!

Elizabeth said...

What an incredible post. Full of love, but convicting at the same time. Pure truth. Thank you for encouraging me!

Five Musgraves at Ten Oaks said...

I love it, Angela! It's such a precious gift of time and one that we could wish away if we're not careful! I have but 2 years left of high school and then it's over ~ gasp! Parenting won't be over of course, but it will certainly be the end of several chapters in life . . . ones that I will love to go back and remember . . . well most of it, anyway :) For me, it's always been when the youngest one moves to a new stage that it seems like a door is closing. Like when the youngest started to Kindergarten, then Violin, then Boys Choir, then MS, then HS!!! I so clearly remember going to the grocery store by myself after they were all in school, and tearing up! Yep, make the most of those days . . . you WON'T regret it!

Regina said...

As I sit up at 12:22 am preparing my third revision to a very complicated management contract that I will not bore you about, I tend to agree with your assessment. I, maybe surprisingly to you and other stay-at-home-moms, think that what all of you do is great. I only wish I would have had the opportunity to do it. Not saying it's too late, but it's really difficult when there's no one decent to even date much less marry and procreate with. I am very proud of you and the beautiful girls that you nurture and cultivate on a daily basis.

And I'm guessing I'm the one that takes the vacations to the places whose names you can't pronounce... unless you have other friends that travel to Zihuatanejo and post pictures of it on Facebook....

Love you-
Regina

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