Today at lunch I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. Such a good surprise! She asked me what I was up to, and although I feel like my life is so full, the only answer I could muster was, “Oh you know, just staying at home with the kids!” (Which is definitely true and the most accurate description of what I “do,” although if you ask me, it’s a terrible description at the same time.) She followed with a question that I haven’t really thought about in awhile. “Do you like it?”
I kind of smiled, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Eh.” Which I think most people generally interpret as “no.” And that was pretty much the end of that question.
Being the over-thinker that I am, I’ve been replaying this question and my response to it all day. I have felt a little guilty about my response because the reality is that the last year to year and a half or so “at home” have been really great. Obviously like any job, there are really good days and really hard days. I can’t really say anymore that there are bad days… just hard. In fact, many or most are hard. But all of them are good. Hard ≠ bad.
Anyway, I think the question caught me off guard because, honestly, I have stopped thinking about whether or not I like it. I have gotten out of the habit of thinking about whether or not there is something I would rather be doing, and I’ve started taking my stay-at-home-mom life one minute at a time, accepting the pleasant and unpleasant moments as my God-given lot.
I always tell people that if there was something else I felt called to, that I was passionate about, that I wouldn’t be opposed to working alongside raising children. I’m not married to being a full time stay-at-home mom.
All that to say, I was literally JUST telling Matt last night how much being a stay at home mom has grounded me. I literally look on my pre-kid life and think that I was so, so foolish. And the main thing I shared with Matt that I have learned since becoming a SAHM (PS I hate that abbrev) is that contentment is possible in all circumstances because it is a choice.
I made a lot of foolish decisions in college and early married life because I didn’t realize that I could choose to be happy wherever God placed me. Not bad decisions necessarily, just foolish. I slacked off in school and quit jobs and ministry opportunities all under the guise of spirituality, but in reality, I was just searching for contentment. Which is a problem when you think the main way to be happy is to have no responsibilities… at all.
Then I thought, “Hmm, having millions of hours of free time is nice, but maybe it’s time to hunker down and have kids. How hard can it be, really? Won’t he just sit quietly next to me in his carseat carrier while I lay out by the pool?” And then came children. And then NEWSFLASH: it’s really hard. I think about six months into Henry’s little life, after the newness had worn off, it suddenly hit me: “I can’t quit this job.”
So after a few years of feeling like I constantly needed to escape, either by getting away from the house at night, or drowning my stress in bowls of ice cream, or fighting off boredom at Target ($$ cha-ching), I finally decided it was time to learn how to enjoy my present reality. I definitely had to learn though. I could potentially write a book on the learning process.
And now, although every single moment of my day is not pleasant (whose is?), I can at least say with honesty that I am fixing my eyes on Jesus and trusting God has me where he wants me, and that is more than enough to be happy.
Let me not neglect to mention that there are many, many happy moments every single day that I am so thankful I get to experience. My kids are a joy! The freedom invest in my community, my church, my neighborhood, and my friends is a joy. There are blessings every single day.
So let me re-answer the question, “Do you like staying at home?”
Yes, I think I actually, finally do.