What it’s like to become a stay at home mom

I have a job with no name.

2014-12-22 08.17.26

Those three call me Mom. My husband calls me his wife, and our congregation calls me a pastor’s wife, a job that is difficult to define. When people ask, I say I’m Just” a Stay at Home Mom. The internet shortens this to SAHM. 

I like to think of myself as the center of gravity around which everything and everyone in our family’s little galaxy orbits. I set the appointments and buy the groceries and return the clean clothes to their drawers. I make sure the toilet paper roll is full and the dishwasher is empty. I declare it to be nap time and lunch time and movie time, and make it so.

Before I quit teaching last fall, I wondered what it would be like to take on this new job. I wasn’t sure I was qualified. I’m still not. But I knew our family needed me at home.

To be clear, I think we pulled off the two working parents thing pretty well. Paul and I work well as a team. I make dinner and he cleans it up. I do bath time and he does bed time. On nights when I couldn’t be at home, he needed no instructions from me. On nights when he couldn’t be at home, I could handle it all alone. We didn’t fight. We functioned. But we were all so tired. And I was feeling very fragile, like I had been spread out so paper thin that I was constantly at risk of being torn.

For the last 6 months I’ve been struggling to come up with a way to explain what it feels like to become a stay at home mom after being a working wife and mom for so long. I’ve decided it sort of feels like going to the beach wearing my swimsuit.

Because for the last 7 years, I’ve been trying to get up every day and dress for two worlds–one underwater and one on the land. Every night I would come home from my job on dry land and realize I had to (metaphorically) roll up my pant legs while I waded in to my duties at home. I tried to go only as deep as I could without getting wet. I tried to straddle the two worlds, but on a day to day basis I had to be more invested in my teaching. I felt like instead of enjoying my time at home, I was just doing what I had to do to survive the evenings so I could get back to work after the kids went to bed. Parenting felt really stressful because I was always trying to keep myself dry.

Now, I feel like I wake up every morning and just put on my swimsuit. It’s okay to splash around and get a little messy because I’m dressed for it. Go ahead and hand me a baby. I’m already in the water and I don’t mind getting a little more wet.

I borrowed this idea from Jim Gaffigan, who always makes me laugh when he says:

gaffigan

(I haven’t had a fourth kid, but I’ve made it to three and it does feel a little like being in over your head in the water. Then adding a baby.)

Perhaps like I was a year ago you’re wondering: Should I be a stay at home mom? Will I regret it? What will I do all day?

I can’t answer this for anyone else, but I can answer it for me. I have no regrets–I can always dry off and join the working world again later. For now it is nice to be swimming.

Laura

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4 thoughts on “What it’s like to become a stay at home mom

  1. Mandi says:

    Like this. I know it was incredibly hard to leave the world of outside employment, but I love being a SAHM more every year.

  2. Alyssa says:

    Laura. I love the way you write and remember being impressed with your writing when getting to know you. I like your metaphor. I’m kind of in between there with being a SAHM as well as a children’s ministry coordinator. I agree that the days you can be splashing the whole day are the best,

    • Hi Alyssa! Long time, no see! Coordinating children’s ministry is one of those jobs that can take as much time as you’re willing to give to it… Hoping you get lots of splashing days (I like the way you phrased that!)

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