My Path to SAHMhood

Guest Post by Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s blog is one of the most passionate that I read, and I could not have been happier when she agreed to share her story about how she became passionate about becoming a stay at home mother.

I never wanted to be a stay at home mother (SAHM) when I was growing up. I only knew two girls who had SAHMs, and they were spoiled. My mother worked, and my brothers and I turned out just fine. I had every intention to be a working supermom who raised several independent and unspoiled children.

I was completely oblivious to the signs pointing me towards the home instead of the office. As much as I idolized my mother, I ignored the fact that she had stayed home until I was six, and only went back to work because, according to my dad, she was spending too much money at home. I blocked out how I hated day care and stayed home alone during the summers as soon as my parents would let me. Once I grew old enough to watch children myself, I loved working with kids in daycares and camps all summer long – but it didn’t register that maybe this was what I was being called to. I was truly ignorant to these signs.

And anyway, I was too smart to be a SAHM. I know it sounds horribly cocky, but I knew that I was intelligent and driven enough to have whatever career I wanted. Not in a scary feminazi powersuit way, but in a normal high-achieving good student way.

So you can imagine my horror when, in my second year of grad school, my boyfriend of six months said that he thought mothers should stay at home with their children. I was completely appalled. He couldn’t be serious. He was an intelligent modern man, not some caveman stuck in the dark ages. He said something about having other people raise their children, and I fired back in defense of day cares – I had worked at one, and the women there loved children! My future husband didn’t push it too hard. He explained how his mother didn’t work. His aunts didn’t either. I was scandalized, and knew then and there that I would have to be the first working mother in his family. I would show them that it could be done, and done well.

And yet, as our relationship deepened, I started reevaluating. I had always taken for granted that I would work. That was the basic premise: find a job that you love, because you will (have to) have a job. Here was a man who wanted to provide for me so I didn’t have to work if I didn’t want to. He would never outright forbid me from working, and even encouraged it once our children were older. But he was very serious about putting our children first when they were young.

To be honest, I didn’t think much about the children. I was sure they’d be fine no matter what my work situation. I focused on myself. If I didn’t have to work, what would I do with all that time? Wouldn’t I be bored? But then I started to realize how many hobbies I had put off over the years. I loved reading, writing, sewing, cooking – all those sweet domestic pursuits. I loved working out – maybe I would finally have time to train for an Ironman! I could learn to play the fiddle! I could learn another language! (Any real SAHMs are probably laughing right now at my pie-in-the-sky dreams and saying “good luck finding time for all that!” But remember, I was still focusing on number one – not on the time any little ones would take.) My selfish side told me I was getting a free ride, so stop complaining and enjoy it. But I was still hesitant. When people asked me what I did, what would I say? Mumble in shame that I didn’t do anything? I shuddered at the thought. And wouldn’t this be a complete waste of my education?

Luckily I had plenty of time to work through this, seeing as getting a PhD takes a good five years, and we weren’t even engaged yet. I would go back and forth, agonizing over “giving up” a career or not. To my shock, I was being more and more drawn to the idea of staying at home. Once I finally realized what a privilege it is to stay home and raise our children, I fully embraced the idea. This is what is best for both my children and me – for our entire family.

Now that we’re expecting our first child, I’m so glad I’ve decided to stay at home with him or her. When people ask what I’m going to do when I finish my degree, I enthusiastically tell them I’m going to be a mom! I confess that this wasn’t what I’d planned years ago, but now I’m really excited about the opportunity to stay at home and raise our children. Sure, there will be times when I want to scream and pull my hair out, but I know that the good will outweigh the bad. This is what my life has been preparing me for. I laugh when I look back and see how all the signs were pointing me towards being with my children day in and day out, and yet how oblivious I was to them. I loved helping to raise other people’s children – I can’t even imagine how much I’m going to love raising my own!

You can find more of Elizabeth’s writing at ThatMarriedCouple.

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11 thoughts on “My Path to SAHMhood

  1. Michelle

    Elizabeth, I’m so glad you are at peace with your situation at this time.

    I think one thing I have learned over the course of having 4 chlidren (so far) and full-time job and 11 years of marriage is that how we feel about our vocation or our state in life at one point will vary immensely at times.

    I remember feeling so sad that I wasn’t able to be a SAHM. I went through a tumultuous couple of years with the insecurity mount up inside telling me that I wasn’t really good enough to have chlidren since I was in a situation where I *had* to work (student loans, other debt). I questioned whether I really heard the call to work a full-time job or even if it was a mistake that I married and had children. It was a difficult place.

    I finally found peace with my state in life as a full-time job/full-time mommy (just because I’m not with my children all day doesn’t mean I stop feeling like a mommy when I’m at work) when I realized that God calls us to different paths…sometimes within the same lifetime.

    What works and gives us peace today, may not necessarily be the thing giving us peace in 10 years. That is where the communication and relationshiop between spouses becomes so important (IMO) as children are being born/raised…understanding that “living in the moment” means more than just being sure to appreciate the good times as they happen and not worry for tomorrow. “Living in the Moment” may mean, re-evaluate and see if God has thrown you a curve-ball and requires your witness in another capacity.

    Most likely as long as you are having and raising children, you will feel called to that entirely. And what a blessing that will be!

    1. That Married Couple

      I love your comment! I think your point that what we are called to can change within our lifetime is very true. I’m trying to think of everything as different seasons. I’m really excited about the one I’m in and the one that I see coming next, as well as the ones in the future that may be totally different from what I might plan!
      I’m so glad you’re at peace with where you are!

  2. Michelle

    Ok…let me apologize for that very rambling comment. I came back to read it…and well, I can’t figure out what I am really trying to say…sorry about that (how embarrassing!)

  3. Joy

    Lovely Elizabeth!
    It is so great hear about your journey, and it have it presented in such a way that honors others journeys. Parenting is not a hobby and should not be approached as such, with that understanding both parents may work outside the home, or one, etc.

    Thank you Rae for hosting such a kind and interesting discussion.

  4. Erin

    I am really enjoying this series, and I really related to this post. As Michelle stated well, I don’t think that I will be stagnant. I know that what I want now isn’t identical to what I wanted even 5 years ago. And I’m sure once I start having kids, our family, and my wants/needs, and theirs, will continue to change and evolve. (That is one of the reasons I wanted a PhD – I can always find a way to use the degree at different times in my life).

  5. Kathleen

    I love seeing the same names on different blogs. It makes me feel like a community. :)

    I recently interviewed a father of six for an article in CCL’s Family Foundations, and something he said sank in and really rooted in me: he said every family has its own vocation. And so Michelle, Elizabeth, Rae, and I are all pursuing our own paths, and though each one is different, each one is exactly where we’re supposed to be.

  6. Katie

    Michelle, I get your point! Vocations can change throughout your lifetime.

    This post, Elizabeth, is a great reminder that we find our true vocation when we stop focusing on ourselves. “I focused on myself. If I didn’t have to work, what would I do with all that time?….” And also a great reminder that our vocation will take us out of our comfort zone, “To my shock, I was being more and more drawn to the idea of staying at home.” I love that you used that word. SHOCK.

    God likes to throw curveballs. “Oh, by the way… remember that thing you said you’d never do?..I want you to do it.” Bam. Done. Sidenote: that’s my new catch phrase for my spiritual walk these days. “BAM!” Sophisticated, right? ;-) I’m being facetious, but seriously, I’m realizing more and more that God is THAT powerful!

    Great post!

  7. Maggie

    Rae- I love this series you are putting on! I love hearing different viewpoints!

    Elizabeth- Our journey’s to want to be SAHM are kind of the same! Love this post!

  8. Jamie

    What a beautiful post. I am very proud of you for discerning what you want and being so true to it. Like Michelle says so beautifully, sometimes are callings are different at different times in our lives. Our job is to be true to them and trust in our Good Works!

  9. Kristy

    Thanks for the guest post, Elizabeth! I really enjoyed hearing how you arrived at your decision. =)

    Question (tangentially related, since it’s been mentioned on a few of these SAHM posts): why are we, as women, afraid of what our peers might say to discover we’re stay-at-home-moms? Is this a fear we have because single friends won’t understand the reason behind the choice? Or is it because we know one woman who is able to work a full-time, high profile job and be a mom and make it to every game, dance recital, choir concert, etc, and we are afraid we won’t live up to her superwoman standard? I’m just curious. I firmly believe that what is right for one is not necessarily right for all, but I will admit that I haven’t always believed that; it took me several years to get to this point. And maybe I’ve softened on this subject because I’m married now (though I never really thought about what I’d do until recently) and so are many of my friends, and they’re starting to get pregnant and face these issues. Is it a cultural thing? I’d love to hear everyone’s input. (Rae – maybe that issue needs its own post…?)

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