Monday, September 16, 2013

why I chose to be a stay-at-home mom

Recently (and by recently I mean quite awhile ago), a friend asked me why I chose to be a stay-at-home mom, and, why I was so enthusiastic about it. She said ever since I met her (just after Stephen and I were married) I was looking forward to being a mom. And she was right. I was excited and eager and incredibly impatient to have babies. And, might I add, completely unaware of what being a stay-at-home mom actually entailed. (You mean it's not what the movies make it look like?!) 

So, why did I want to do this? Well, partly because I just assumed I would. Growing up, my mom was a stay-at-home mom and I loved it. Loved it! She was always around to teach us, play with us, care for us... And as far as I know, she loved it, too. (You did love it, right, mom? I mean, I know I was a bit of a hellion, but I'm pretty sure you'd still say it was all worth it.) My mom is my best friend, my biggest fan, my hero... I've always wanted to be like her. So, I grew up assuming I'd be a stay-at-home mom, too. 
Partly, also, because Stephen wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom. Not in the demanding "you're less worthy than me and it's your job to stay home to cook and clean way", but in the "I loved having a stay-at-home mom to spend time with me and I want that same experience for our kids way". Sherri was a stay-at-home mom while the boys were young and I know (as with my own experience) that her love, attention, and time transformed Stephen to the man he is today. I loved that Stephen wanted me to play such an important role in our kids lives! And I love that he supported me so much in my desire to be a stay-at-home mom, that he is pursuing a career that will allow me to do so. And, along with that, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom so I could be a stay-at-home wife. Stephen is working so hard for our family pulling long days and long weeks, I wanted to, and really it's the least I could do, to pack his lunches, make him dinner, and clean the house so he doesn't have to work when he gets home from work. (Now, I am the first to admit I am no Martha Stuart, but I think he appreciates the effort.)
Partly, too, because I hate working. I love the getting dressed up and having something to do part, but I really hate the talking to people part. Though every test I've taken calls me an extrovert, I'd really prefer to be in a room of five people that I already know. Or, sitting in bed by myself watching an episode of Friends. 
But, mostly, because I figured if someone had to be with my kids all day, it should probably be me. I mean, I made them. They're kind of my responsibility, aren't they? If someone was going to be there when they sat up for the first time, or took their first step, or said their first word, it should probably be me. If someone was going to be there when they got a raging fever, or wanted to be cuddled all day, it should probably be me. If someone was going to be there when they ate their first food, or laughed for the first time, or rolled off the bed (it happens), it should probably be me. And not just because it's my responsibility as their mother, but because I wanted to be around for all of that. And I knew (and certainly know now) that most days aren't filled with "firsts". Most days are filled with ordinary tasks and nothing but. But! When one of those firsts does roll around, I wanted to be the one to share it with my child. I wanted to be the one to teach them their ABC's and 123's. I wanted to be the one to teach them to crawl and walk and talk. I wanted to be the one to take them to the zoo for the first time and push them on the swings at the park. I wanted to be the one to comfort them in pain and sing them to sleep at night. I am their mother and they are mine
Now, side note. I am saying "they" and "them" as if I have a plethora of children I keep hidden in the closet. I have just the one babe, but these were my thoughts and feelings pre children days. These were the reasons I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom to this child and the ones to come. 
My friend also asked me if I get judged for my decision to stay home? If I'm made to feel guilty or lazy? To that I'd have to say no. I'm lucky enough that the majority of my friends and family are in the same boat as I am, or support me in my boat. But there are certainly naysayers, and to them I say... Well I'd like to say a lot of things but this quote from The Matt Walsh Blog will do perfectly... "Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do." (Click the link and read the blog post. You will love it!) Everyone has an opinion about how you raise your kids, whether you're a working mom or a stay-at-home mom... Even fellow parents judge! (Actually, they're probably the worst at it.) I know many people see us stay-at-home moms as lazy, and, truthfully, somedays I am. Somedays I don't take a shower or get out of my sweats or leave the house, simply because I don't want to. Simply because I am happy and cozy at home and have no need to do so. Other days, however, I don't take a shower or take off my sweats or leave the house because my child is teething and crying and fussing and clinging and there is no possible way to physically do any of those things. Though on those days, I would like nothing more. "Being lazy" leads people to think that we stay-at-home moms get nothing done. Again, sometimes I don't get anything done because that is just the kind of day the doctor ordered. Other days I get nothing done by Uriah's choice, not mine. But most days, all days, my "nothing" looks a lot like this... 
"Mamas, I want to tell you the truth. And here it is: You will not get anything done when you are home with a baby. And anyone who told you otherwise is not being very forthcoming (or perhaps they just have a lousy memory). You might get yourself fed. You might get yourself dressed (then again, you might not). You might take a walk (it makes baby happy). You might have a short phone conversation or start a load of laundry, neither of which you will finish. This is your new mom normal.
So what are you doing all day? Not much that can be measured, really. You’re simply responding appropriately and with patience (through fatigue), to smiles, to tears, to hunger cues, and to drowsiness, teaching your baby how to navigate this complex and (to a baby) highly emotional and raw world. You are keeping your baby clean, which on some days involves more costume changes (for both of you) than any non-mother can begin to fathom. You are teaching a tiny, helpless person all about the world—at least the important parts, like how we treat each other and what it means to be connected to a family. You are creating a foundation of love and trust between you and your baby, one that will help you set your parenting compass, inform your future interactions, and provide a basis for the way your child relates to the larger world.  You may be breastfeeding your baby—another time consuming task that reaches forward through time to heal and protect your child, and simultaneously reduces your risk of disease. Oh, and you’re becoming a mother. It started the day your baby was conceived, and it continues beyond birth. Your baby is stretching and growing into this new body, and you are too.
But that’s about it, really. That’s your day.
Our culture doesn’t have a good way to measure what you are accomplishing. Your baby will grow and meet milestones: check. But to the untrained eye most of this work, at the end of the day, will look like nothing.
But we know better"
Brilliant, right?! (It's an excerpt from an article my mother sent me from the Mama Blog.)
So, that's what I do and that's why I do it. 
It's 11 am and I have already changed three poopy diapers and one outfit, I have fed my child three times, and right now he is upstairs in his crib not sleeping like he should be, but fussing and crying and probably sitting up holding the rails of his crib like I've put him in jail. But, when it's time for him to get up, despite the fact that I've left him in solitude, he will smile his huge opened mouth smile and reach for me like I am the finish line of a marathon. And I will melt into a thousand tiny pieces. (And immediately forget how annoying he was earlier.) (I know, I just called my own kid annoying, I'm a terrible mother. I love him and he's perfect and adorable but oh my gosh you haven't heard him scream!) That smile is the reason I chose, and continue to choose, to be a stay-at-home mom. That smile is only going to reside in my house for 18 years (that's only 940 Saturdays!). I want to spend as much time as I absolutely can with that smile. 

Disclaimer: I do not think working moms are bad moms. For a very brief time in my life I actually wanted to be one. I was going to live in New York City and wear a lot of black and nothing but six inch heels and not have kids until my 30's. (For those of you who know me well and have always known me as a baby obsessive mother want to be, I said it was a very brief time in my life.) Some moms have to work, which I understand perfectly! And I think if you just want to work, you should! I also think (though this could certainly open a can of worms and a whole other blog post) that no parent of yours, spouse, church, friends, judge-y old women in the grocery store should make you feel like you have to stay at home. I think we are lucky enough to choose the job (and yes, I am including stay-at-home mom here because it IS a job, a 24 hour one, thank you very much) we want and find as a best fit for ourselves, our children and our family and those listed above should support that decision. (That can has now been closed.) 


  1. Allison,

    I haven't even met you but love your mom and sister. I've looked at your blog through your instagram profile. I just wanted to thank you so much for this post. I just had our second baby and feel like a circus juggler! At the end of the day I wonder what I have done and get frustrated when my mind wants to get more done than I can. Thank you for this post for another reminder that mommyhood is worth it - and stay at home moms are doing something worthwhile! :)

    1. I'm going to be living in Pocatello for 6 weeks starting at the end of the month... We WILL be meeting! :) I can't imagine having two kids (though gosh I'm so excited for it!) and juggling all that entails! Hats off to you, momma! I love how you said your mind wants to get more done than you can - that is perfect wording and so true! It's so frustrating! But what we are doing IS important! And so worth while! It's just hard to remember sometimes ;) I'm glad you liked the post! Thank you for reading it!

    2. Yes I'd love to have a bagel date or something sometime!! That would be great! Thanks for the encouragement :) Uriah is so sweet - I love his pictures. Keep up the great work mama! ;)

  2. love this post. i have been wanting to write something similar to this for a while....maybe one day i will. but you said it all perfectly. i can't wait til i'm just a stay at home mama!

    1. I'm glad you liked it! And thanks for reading! It's the most challenging job in the most unexpected ways, but you will love it!

  3. I seriously needed this post! I never thought I would be a stay at home mom. I always figured i'd multitask it. But I have now been a stay at home mom for 3 years, and I definitely pull my weight. I am also recently married (3 weeks ago) and planned most of the small wedding myself while taking care of the little one. And my husbands sisters, who do not have children, constantly inquire on WHEN i'm getting a job. And constantly push that having dual incomes would allow me to vacation and buy myself more things. My husband's job is more than sufficient, and we're comfortable. I actually googled being a stay at home mom and came across this, and it definitely made me feel better. I do not judge mothers who work. I think its definitely your choice, and I most definitely understand HAVING to work. But I find it incredibly irritating and rude that women, especially women without children, belittle stay at home moms. Again, your post really secured me and I wanted to thank you!