Man, how to write this post? I am frustrated. And I understand all at the same time. Most stay-at-home-moms (SAHM) feel like they are not validated, appreciated, understood. They feel overused, overworked, stretched thin, alone, overstimulated, understimulated, and like they have no one to talk to. I get it. I really do. I have three kids, (5, 3, 1). I was a working mom for the first four years of number 1's life. I have been 100% SAHM for number 3's life. I have seen both sides and I get it.
What I do not get is why we perpetuate the problem. I have seen a lot of posts about SAHMs for SAHMs. Posts about what a break really means and how to communicate with a SAHM and what SAHMs would like or need. And I am guilty of reading them and thinking, "Yes! Finally, someone who gets it! Someone who understand how I feel and is vocalizing it for the world to know!" It is nice to be understood. But I realized something after the last one I read. I do not feel any better after I read those posts. I feel worse.
Unless you have been a stay-at-home parent, you really have no idea what goes on or the unique stress that one deals with. Believe me. I thought I got it as a working mom...and I fully realize now that I am SAHM that I did not get it. It is one of those things you cannot understand until you have been there. I'm sorry. It does not make you less of a person, though. It just makes you a person.
Back to feeling better. I realized after reading the last post "validating" or "explaining" SAHM that I did not feel better. And the reason was simple. Someone who has not been in my shoes will never get it. And that list of things that I want to have or happen probably won't happen. Because I'm a SAHM. And that's okay. It's okay because of one, HUGE fact. I CHOSE to be a SAHM.
That's right. I looked at our family. I looked at our religion. I looked at families around us. I looked at what was happening when someone else was raising my child. And I made a choice. I decided it would be better for my family and me to stay home. And that's what I have done. It has been hard. I have felt underappreciated and overused and understimulated and overstimulated (often at the same time). I have felt like I do not exist as a real person. I have felt alone. But it is what I chose to do. And I do not always feel that way.
There are wonderful things that happen for SAHMs that often get lost in the jumble of negativity. I get to snuggle with my kids. I get to teach them right from wrong. I get to see them take their first steps and say their first words (my youngest just figured out "boom, baby!"). I get to cook and eat healthy meals for my family. I get to be home when they come home and see their faces light up when I cheer for them coming through the door. They come to me with their fears and joys. I get to play video games and board games and read stories. I get to be there for my husband.
And maybe I should stop here. You see, being a SAHM isn't all about me. It's about family. It's a choice to do what you believe is best for those around you. It's a CHOICE.
I guess my plea to SAHMs is this: You chose this path and so did I. There are rough days and rough moments. There are good days and good moments, too, though. But it's all a choice. No one forced you (us) to do this. And that's okay.
Here are some survival tips that I have found helpful recently:
1. Breathe. I mean this seriously. Take a breath and say to yourself: It will be okay. It's not as big a deal as I think it is. Breathe!
2. Tell your husband the truth about how you're feeling...and not right as he's walking in the door (unless he asks right then). How do you feel when you finally get a moment to sit down and someone (usually a kid) asks you to do something for them? (Really? I was just in the kitchen 10 seconds ago with you!) Give them a moment (just like you would like one) and then tell them the truth.
3. Take care of yourself. I'm not even talking about going to a salon and having a girls night or whatever. We don't have the money. But you can afford to go to bed on time. You can afford to eat healthy with your kids. And there are countless resources on the internet for finding some kind of exercise that works for you. (Lately, I've been doing a morning yoga routine (10 minutes or less) while my kids are across the hall playing (yes, they often wander into my room and join me). Then I take another 10 minutes to meditate on scriptures, hymns, Jesus, gratitude (yes, my kids often wander in during meditation to sit on my lap or have a dress buttoned or toy fixed or something. I cannot express how good I have been feeling since starting this.)
Honestly, it's okay to read the blog posts that remind you someone else understands. But do not wallow in them. Do not ponder on them beyond "Someone else gets it. I am so grateful." If you are going to wallow, wallow in the choice you have made to be a SAHM. Wallow and be grateful that your family is in a situation for that. Wallow in the good moments and remember that the bad ones don't last. Wallow in the affection of your spouse. And if you don't feel like you're getting that affection, take a page from your kids and just cuddle up to him. He'll either catch on and cuddle back or open the door to a conversation of what you need in that moment.
SAHMs, you're doing a good job. You're doing an important work. Remember that.