Friday, January 27, 2012

Stay At Home Mom Linkup

I'm not usually big on this type of thing, but another one of my favorite blogs is prompting this post.

What Being A SAHM Means To Me (sounds like "What I Did Over My Summer Vacation")

Objectively: 

R and I both come from families with a SAHM, so that was the model we both grew up with. When we envisioned having children, I think we both subconsciously modeled our future family after our families of origin. And, while there were parts of my job I enjoyed, it was not a good fit for me, at the time, so it was not a huge sacrifice for me to quit the workforce for awhile. Me staying at home was sort of our default, and there was no compelling reason to do otherwise when I got pregnant.

And now that I'm at home with Julia, I truly believe she benefits from having a parent as her primary caregiver during these first few years of her life. I see how different she is with Robert - differences which have become more subtle as she's gotten older, but I see them nonetheless, and it makes me realize how secure she is when she's with me. I'm happy I can provide her with a "go-to" person, and as exhausting as it can be to be that person all the time, I can actually feel her relax when she's with me. Being a rather anxious person myself, I think that's important for her well-being. Plus, I'm busting my butt to give her the best growing-up environment possible: no tv, lots of books, puzzles, one-on-one playtime, fresh air, outings, and exploration.

I obviously can't compare her experience to the daycare one, and I'm not trying to here. I'm just saying that I'm confident I'm doing a good job of helping her grow mentally and emotionally, which is our family's priority right now. With #2 on the way on the heels of #1, it becomes an even more efficient decision - I'm raising all the children in our family the way we would like them to be raised.

I don't intend to stay home perpetually. At some point the girls' needs will change and I hope and plan to be able to meet them as they grow while starting up my own life again.

Not So Objectively:

While I didn't love my actual job, I derived a lot of my identity and personal sense of worth from the intellectual environment I was in every day. I was doing big, fancy-pants lawyer work at a big, fancy-pants firm, and I gotta say, it's been humbling to say the least to trade that in for diapers and spit-up and sitting around in a circle with other toddlers singing patty-cake. I'm sure this reflects my own feelings more than that of those around me, but I feel like being a SAHM is like wearing a sign that says, "I'm Stupid." I find myself saying, "I stay at home with Julia now but I used to be a lawyer," as if to toss in a quick "I'm smarter than I look, I swear." By my own personal standards, I've gone from being a productive member of society - something which was always strangely important to me - to being an underpaid babysitter.

Because, even as frequently as I wish I could just drop Julia off at daycare and go to work where I can use the bathroom by myself, I know that the job I'm doing now is easier than the job I was doing before. In a different way, of course. Now I'm on duty 24/7, and giving up not only my privacy, identity, personal growth, intellectual growth, and ego, but literally giving up my body for these children. And that's exhausting in it's own way. But, I also get to go shopping, go to the park, go to the zoo, read on the floor, and fill up our days with other things that would have sounded delightful to an overworked, over-berated young attorney.

And it's hard for me not to believe, in my heart of hearts, that I took the easy way out. And I'm afraid everyone I meet knows this.

(Edited to clarify:) What I'm saying is, my life is really nice right now. Compared to being a lawyer, it's validating, satisfying, and relatively low-stress. Which, makes me, the overachiever best-under-pressure never-good-enough type person I've always been, feel like I should be doing more. I've always felt that, if I'm not almost drowning, I'm not doing enough. And this SAHM thing, I'm actually keeping afloat for the most part. (Hah - we'll see how I feel once Baby #2 gets here!) So I'm not saying that SAHMs take the easy way out, or that they have it easier than those who work, because I really believe there's absolutely no point to having that debate; it's like trying to compare grief - you just can't do it.

What I am saying is that this is a pretty good gig, and I judge myself and wonder whether I should be doing more. I.e., working. Despite the fact that I believe it's best for the kiddos if I stay home, I constantly wonder if I shouldn't be "doing it all" instead.

Conclusion:

I don't have much of one - like all of life, staying home is messy and my feelings about it are ever-evolving. It's been about a year and a half since I quit the workforce, and I've gradually come to peace with my our decision, mostly because I've adjusted my perspective and gotten a bit more mature about things.

The grass is always greener, and I know there are so many working moms out there who would kill to be in my position but can't. And I know in the long run, I'll never regret taking a few years off to stay at home with my children. It's cliche, but true - I can always go back to work but I can never get back these early years.

And it's my life, and my family's life, and what anyone else thinks of it really doesn't matter one flipping bit. We're happy. Julia's happy, despite my misgivings I'm way happier than I was when I was working, and I'm pretty sure R is happier too (or at least so he tells me). Like I said earlier, we're doing what we think is best for our family and best in line with our family's priorities. If that means I have to be insecure sometimes and take the hit to my ego, so be it.

Cause this little family? Kind of worth it. :)

Not the most amazing photo of us all, but we're all there!

5 comments:

  1. Totally worth it! Totally! And take it from someone who's trying to "do it all"... you can't ever "do it all" in all aspects of your life. Something has to give whether it's work, family, or god-forbid your health. No one achieves everything on everything.

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    1. Lies! I want it ALL! EVERYTHING. PERFECTLY.

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  2. I loved reading this and seeing your different-yet-similar experience getting out of law & into the SAHM thing. On the lawyer thing, I completely relate to the feeling of needing to explain the "used to be a lawyer" thing so that people don't think I'm . . . I don't really know what I'm afraid of there, but "stupid" is probably it. Then *I* feel stupid for having worried about it. I'm training myself to own the SAHM thing proudly, because I am proud of it.

    Thanks so much for participating & for the kind words, too!

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    1. Thanks, and thanks for the linkup! "Stupid" is so harsh, I know, but as best I can tell, I think that's what I'm afraid of. Despite the fact that it was a very rational decision and puts the children's best interests first, I'm all concerned about how it reflects on ME, of course. :)

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  3. Love your honesty. I think no matter what choice you make as a mom, you will have those moments of self-doubt. Every family is different though, and I've learned how unproductive it is to compare yourself to others. Also people can be so defensive about this topic, which is silly. YOU are the best mommy to your babies and no one else :)

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