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.
- My Story: Growing Up to Want Something Else
- I am thankful 5/23/2010