My life as a stay-at home mom has been both difficult and beautiful. For the last 16 years, I’ve spent nearly every single day raising my children from the day they were born, kissing every boo boo, wiping every tear, and watching them grow. I took this photo this summer while we were vacationing at Hilton Head Island, SC. As you can see, my crew is growing up. They’re all taller than I am. Well, except for my baby and I’m going to keep it that way! I wish…
A few weeks ago, some rude man made the comment that I should get off my butt and get a real job. We live in a world where mothers are undervalued. The job I do is frowned upon by so many and because my kids are growing up, they don’t need me as much anymore. Heck, my daughter started driving just two weeks ago. Yet, I still choose to be a stay-at-home mom. In a society that frowns upon women at home, many wonder why I choose to do this. Even in my everyday life, I encounter strangers (even family and friends!) who frown on my lifestyle and can’t imagine why I would “choose not to work.” Believe me, I do work! But the pay isn’t great, and though I sometime soon I may have a part-time job, my children have been my life for 16 years, which is something not many women can say. Most women work from the time their jobs send them back after maternity leave, and I haven’t had a job outside of the home for a long, long time. So, I decided to write a much-needed post about the good, the bad, and the beautiful about being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). These are my confessions of the past 16 years as a SAHM.
16 years ago, I found out I was pregnant. I had a HUGE decision to make. Was I going to put my daughter in childcare or was I going to take care of her myself? I was still a college student myself, working at a church as an administrative assistant for youth services. My husband in his last year of college, I worried that we couldn’t afford childcare, but I also worried we couldn’t afford life if I quit my job. Life kept going and going and I hadn’t made a decision. The day my baby was born, the decision was made for me. I knew from that moment, no one was taking care of her except me. My husband agreed. We didn’t care what we had to give up. It was worth it.
We made sacrifices
we only drove old cars
we stopped eating out
I shopped clearance and sales
we had a small house and/or apartment
we only took one vacation each year
we lived on a very tight budget
we bought store brands and used coupons
I became very thrifty
we didn’t buy all the latest gadgets or all the latest phones
One of the hardest parts was listening to well-meaning friends/family give us financial advice
This is what I would call the bad part of being a SAHM. All of our friends were still going out to restaurants, driving nice cars, vacationing on the weekends and flying overseas, but not us. As the years went by and we had more kids, it became more difficult financially. Even though my husband graduated from college and landed a great job with a good company, most would laugh at the income we tried to survive on as a family of six, but we made it work because it was worth it to us to be there for every band performance, every sporting event, every PTA meeting, every conference, every play, every. single. thing. When I looked around at all the kids whose parents never showed up, my heart broke for them (I’m not shaming them but rather I’m only showing the reasons I decided to stay at home). Losing out on other material things was worth it for me because it meant that I was there for my kids in the years when they needed me most. It meant I was raising them, and they’ll never forget that. Neither will I.
I understand that some people can’t stay at home for various reason or just simply choose not to and that’s fine. However, my decision wasn’t based on my wants and desires. In fact, studies show women are happiest when they’re employed outside the home. I chose to be a SAHM for my kids.
I’ve had many people over the years justify their reasons for not staying at home or to try and tell me all the reasons why I shouldn’t be a SAHM, but the reality is neither of those things matter. No one will ever be able to convince me any amount of money was worth me leaving my kids.
Why? Why did I choose this life?
There is a quote by my favorite author that says, “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.”- Jane Austen. To me this means that we live our lives in just glances of nothingness and then we die. I wanted my life to be filled with my children. James 4:14 in the bible says, “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” I wanted the little time I have here on earth not to be spent in busy nothings at a career but rather to be invested in my children, whom I only have for a short time.
My quick list of reasons I became a SAHM
I wanted to be there for everything. Every first word, every first step, performance, dance, you name it. I wanted to be a part of it.
They’re my kids. I wanted to raise them, take them to the park, on walks. I wanted to be the one. They need their moms.
It felt right.
It felt natural.
No amount of money could replace this precious time. None.
When they look back at their childhood, they’ll see their mom. They’ll know their mom was there. I would sacrifice the world over and again to give them that reassurance.
The relationship I have with my teen/pre-teen children now could never be replaced. They know their mom is/was there for them. They know the family roles.
I’m sure anyone could give me an even larger list of reasons that I should “get a real job,” and I’m sure someday I will work outside of the home, maybe sooner than later if the right job came around. However, when my decision to become a SAHM was faced to me 16 years ago, I wouldn’t go back and change a day of it. I’ll never regret the time I spent with my kids at the parks, playgrounds, and everything we’ve done together through the years. We live in a world that worships money. I do not. The moral of the story, my friends, is that no matter what you choose in life, stand by your decisions. There are always going to be people who tell you that you’re wrong. There’s never been a day I regret being a SAHM. Has it been hard? Yes. Could I have been better off financially somewhere else? Sure. Would I have been more fulfilled doing something else? Not in a million years. Never. My daughter leaves for college in just three years. She turns 16 in a few months. I haven’t regretted a day I’ve been with her. Not a second.