The Truth About Being A Stay-At-Home Mom.
Stay at home mothers, this job is hard.
And it’s lonely and exhausting and under-appreciated and wonderful and all the things that will make you wonder if you are going a little crazy.
Nobody sees what you do all day and some wonder if you actually do *anything* productive. And secretly, you wonder too. You have nothing to hold up at the end of the day as proof of work. Except your kids that you’ve kept alive. And more than that, you’ve kept them fed and happy and entertained.
You’ve kept their blood sugar from plummeting by serving three meals and various snacks. This nutrition did not just magically appear: you peeled, chopped, cooked, served, fed, and cleaned up after each meal. And sometimes your picky eaters won’t eat it. And that’s just the food portion of your day.
You’ve kept them alive.
You’ve shielded your cherubs from danger and gated off stairwells so nobody falls down an entire flight. You’ve monitored toy time to make sure Legos were not eaten/choked on. You’ve closed the toilet cover again, because little hands seem drawn to splashing in that water. You’ve blown bubbles outside, fastened bike helmets without pinching the chin, warned about not going too close to the street, and chased the child that went too close to the street anyway. You’ve warned against eating dirt or rocks, or mushrooms, or anything else you’d find outside.
At the end of the day, you have a muddy toddler and your own frizzy hair. It doesn’t look like anything productive happened, though you’ve held, rocked, nursed, kissed, bandaged boo-boos, encouraged, explained, instructed, and taught them right from wrong.
Your day is not nearly over. Oh no. Now it’s bath time. You clean everybody up, and wrangle them into their pjs. Now you clean up the bathroom and mop up the water. Tired yet?
Now it’s bedtime. You get everyone into bed, and properly tucked up to their chin and kissed on the cheeks, and then you shut the door and wait. Silence. You strut down the hall like Rocky winning the title, but your victory walk is cut short. They’re up again. You repeat this scenario three or four times depending on the night.
After bedtime, you nominate yourself to clean up the toys that are still strewn throughout the house because you’re an overachiever that way, and there’s nobody else to pick them up, come to think of it. And then you collapse into bed yourself.
You miss adult conversation. Playdates take a lot of extra energy that you’re not sure you have right now. You miss your friends and sharing your pursuits (however small) with someone who’ll appreciate it, but you don’t have much to share or show at this stage anyway. You click through social media, craving connection, but each click leaves you feeling a little more deflated.
Click. Friends out shopping, carefree, well manicured, put together.
Click. Friends accomplishing something—anything! Climbing the corporate ladder, making money, creating, vacationing.
Each click becomes a measuring stick and by comparison, you don’t seem to measure up and what on earth are you even doing again? Your husband looks at you like your crazy when you say you need to go to the grocery store ALONE and just have an hour to yourself. He thought you said you were lonely, so why do you want to be alone when everyone’s at home?(Don’t ask questions we don’t have answers to.)
You’re not sure you’ll ever sleep another full night again in your entire life and it’s beginning to take its toll. When the kids nap, you’re torn between napping and over caffeinating yourself so you can get things done. You’re ready to drop by bedtime, but there’s stuff to do for tomorrow.
It’s under appreciated.
There’s certainly no awards ceremony for what you’re doing and you aren’t ever getting a raise. The culture doesn’t value you because you aren’t a producer and you don’t make a paycheck.
Here’s where things get really crazy. You love your little people so you actually love your life and “job.”
And here’s the thing– at the end of the day, when your work is all undone and it seems you’ve accomplished nothing, the love still remains.
The love still remains, and can never be undone.
You see, we mothers are building, too, but you can’t see love with your eyes.
We are architects of family legacies and culture, and without good mothers—the unappreciated, invisible army of good mothers— the culture is never the same.
We are building with intangible things.
Time is our building material. We lay foundations in the everyday mundane moments: security, wholeness, self-confidence, appreciation, empathy, encouragement, morals, norms, manners.
Memories are our mortar. We know these things matter.
This is why we do what we do and we just don’t care who approves.
We may not love the chaos, but we love what we are doing, because to some little child, we are the most important person in the world.
The world may not value you, but there’s a little one who would be lost without you. He gets his idea of his own self-worth by the way you value him.
So, today, we talk to toddlers, we pick up crumbs, we praise first art attempts, and sweep up peas from under the table because it all matters to him, to your impressionable little one, and it matters to future generations the legacy you are building today.