I was wanting to blog (since I haven’t in forever and really do enjoy it…) and realized that actually, an email I just sent to a dear friend would be a great blog entry. So, here it is, minus some personal bits…
There’s not a lot of knitting going on around here. I have a pair of purple socks I’m supposedly working on, but they’re just not doing it for me. I wanted them to have nice long, turn-down-able ribbed cuffs… and they’re long… and they’re boring… and they’re taking me forEVer. Possibly because I kinda hate working on them… so I never do. I also have a baby sweater that I’m supposedly working on. It was supposed to be for Ean, but then I figured out that the size I was making was the size he would be in the summer (last year) so I got stalled out. Then started again because I figured out it’d be perfect for a good friend’s baby. But then I lost it for a while and then it was too late ’cause the baby was too big. And that’s kinda it. There’s just not really any knitting project I’m excited about right now… so I’m not doing it. (See? This is why I originally wanted to do the charity knitting… with a REASON for the knitting, and a deadline, maybe that would be motivating… need to look at doing that again).
I’m not craft-less, though. There was a really cool event this past Saturday at the Philbrook museum up in Tulsa. It was called Swap-o-rama-rama. Everyone brought a bag (or more) of unwanted clothing and then you could take whatever struck your fancy. They had a few different stations around to help you transform your goodies if you so chose. There was a lady teaching you how to make tote bags (like for your groceries) out of t-shirts, a lady showing how to make t-shirt yarn (very cool… feeling the love for some simple wash cloths made from former t-shirts… hoping to get going on that soon), there was a table with sewing machines (which were kinda hard to get on because some ladies were kinda not sharing all that well, but whatever), a silk screening table, one with books and ideas on how to reuse and repurpose things and a few other tables as well. That was all very inspiring and I have a few projects for that going. Making a purse out of a pair of jeans, got a bunch of t-shirts to make yarn with and kinda eyeing a sweater from my own closet to chop up into a nice summer top. Very fun!
Stay at home mommying…
Well… I think it really depends on a lot of things. There are a lot of moms out there who are depressed and who have no time and who really kinda hate it. But there are a lot of moms out there who love it… every minute of it. Personally, I’m a ping pong ball bouncing between the two, but (thankfully) residing mostly in the “love it” category. When I’m on top of things and I exercise self-discipline, I am throughly entrenched in the love it. When things start to spin out of control and I start to get down on myself about it, I get depressed. All in all, though, even with the rough patches and the few dark, blue, never-ending-days, I really, really, really, really, REALLY think it’s worth it. It’s worth it to raise my kids myself. I prayed for these kids. I worked to have them. I wanted them and I cherish them… and now the last thing I want to do is hand them off to someone else to raise 8+ hours a day. Or even 2 hours. I firmly believe it’s my God-given call, duty and privilege to train my children (there are a lot of Biblical reasons for that belief, but that’s a different discussion). So though it’s hard sometimes, I think it’s completely worth it.
The happiness part I think depends on a few major factors (in no particular order)…
HUSBAND— is he a supportive guy? Not just in the “yeah, babe. Sure you can quit work and stay home” kinda way. Actively supportive. Will keep the kid and let you go out… not just let… encourage you to get out on your own, preferably at least once a week. I think the ladies who are depressed are down in part (maybe a lot) because they feel like they’ve lost themselves in mommyhood… like their whole sense of self has been swallowed up in mommy-ness. Getting to do something that’s for you and doesn’t involve your child is really key, I think. Like ladies’ Bible class. Like knitting night. Like running a Christian women’s website (shameless plug for Come Fill Your Cup).
ATTITUDE— women of our generation have largely been raised to believe that they’re too good, too talented, too skilled to be “stuck” at home raising kids. It’s supposed to be beneath us. If this is a woman’s belief, she’ll be miserable. If, on the other hand, she sees the value of staying home to raise her kids, she’ll be fulfilled… or a whole honking lot closer anyway. This is a big struggle for me. I definitely grew up believing that being a SAHM is a waste of an intelligent woman. And if you (note… I don’t mean YOU… but you probably knew that) see parenting as nothing more than keeping the kids out of trouble, making sure they’re fed and diapered, then, yep… it’s a waste. But if you see it for what it is (training), then it’s an incredibly challenging career. Everything you do makes an impression on their little brains and at the moment you least expect it, they repeat the most mundane of things from three weeks ago. Talk about living in a glass house! So the trick here is to remember and to constantly remind yourself that this is valuable! You’re molding and shaping a person. A person who could become the next Thomas Edison (brilliant but horrid) or Mark Twain (brilliant but knew nothing of God) or Mother Theresa (who knows if she was brilliant or not, but man did she know how to care!) or whoever.
Also on the attitude front is the desire for immediate gratification. There is no immediate gratification to raising kids. None. It’s fun to see them laugh and lots of giggles are a surefire bet if you’re a fun-loving parent at all… but that’s not really gratification or FRUIT from your labors. And there really is very little fruit for a long time. Again, the trick is to remember that you’re building a whole person. And that’s a complicated thing. I feel like I’m just now starting to see an inkling of fruit in raising Jaden. He’s 6. The twins are still completely nuts a lot of the time, totally disobedient sometimes and downright embarrassing on occasion… but they’re 3 1/2… and that’s how 3 1/2 yr olds are and we’re working on all of that… they’re still in training. Another trick is to have something that DOES give visible gratification and fruit from your work. Like knitting. Or gardening (weed for 15 minutes and see the progress). Or some other crafty thing.
REASON— If you know WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, it means a whole lot more. If you’re just being a SAHM because you can’t afford to keep the kids in day care, you’re much less likely to feel like what you’re doing is worthwhile. If you have nailed down why it is that you want to stay home with your kid and the benefits you foresee for yourself and your family, when times get tough (and they will), you can remind yourself why you’ve made this choice. It may just be that you want to spend more time with your kid, and I think that’s a totally valid reason. One of the many reasons we’ve chosen to homeschool is that we were barely seeing Jaden when he was in public school. He’d be on the bus at 7:00 and not get home until 3:30– at the age of 4. Our entire interaction with him revolved around shoving or shuffling: shuffling him out of bed, shoving him out the door and onto the bus, shuffling him in from the bus, shoving food down his throat, shuffling him off to soccer practice or Tae Kwon Do or Bible study or whatever else, shoving more food down his throat, shuffling him off to bed. Shove ‘n’ shuffle, shove ‘n’ shuffle. And we couldn’t stand it. So when homeschooling gets tough, that’s one of the things I remember: how much I hated the shove ‘n shuffle.
SCHEDULE— I hate schedules. Really hate them. But IMHO they’re necessary… a loose one anyway. Afternoon nap time/ quiet time is not optional for any child in this house. Mommy needs a break. I need to be able to have my Bible study. I need a chance to do something that I want to do. I need to be able to sit down and focus on a task without being interrupted 50 times. So we have trained our kids that after lunch time is quiet/ nap time (about three hours usually). We sit down together and read some books then they go off to their beds. Jaden is too old to take a nap most days, but the twins and Ean still need one. Jaden has specific tasks that he must do at quiet time (pray all the way thru his prayer book, make a note or card for three people, and read for 15 minutes). After that, he may choose a quiet activity to do on his bed (read, color, do a puzzle, etc.) for the rest of quiet time. Another thing that I’m (finally) learning is necessary is to be up before my kids. That fixes the no showering part of many SAHM’s lives. With a small baby, getting up before him can be really tricky… and that’s where the supportive hubby is really helpful again. It also means that I have a chance to gather my thoughts and myself before I meet my kiddos for the day. And it means I get to greet them with a smile and a hug rather than a grump and a “what did you get into THIS time?!”
Pause for side note: I read a blog entry a while back that really affected me. It was talking about greeting your kids with a smile every time you see them. He talked about how you are the most important person (well, you and Daddy) in his life. Imagine if the most important person in your life lit up with a big smile every time they saw you… wouldn’t it make you feel special? and cherished? and confident? and loved? He urged the readers to do that for our kids. I love that thought.
Now back to our regularly scheduled email…
Things that should be in the schedule…
- Date nights should be in the schedule. You’ll (hopefully) be married much longer than you’ll have kids in your house and many a couple has looked around after the kids are gone, not recognized each other and headed straight for divorce court. Don’t lose your marriage. It’s been said that the best thing a dad can do for his kids is to love their mom. I’m pretty sure the reverse would be true too.
- Getting out of the house needs to be a priority too. I think a lot of the SAHMs who are depressed are too much of a SAHM. I went through a spell after the twins were born where getting out of the house with two infants and a three-year-old was just too much to even think of. I didn’t leave my house except for Sunday morning worship, Sunday evening worship and Wednesday evening Bible class. Straight there, straight back. That’s it. Whole weeks would go by where I didn’t even get dressed except to go to church. And I got really, really depressed. Since then I’ve learned that I must get out of the house. If not every day, close to it. Even if it’s just to walk around the block, going beyond my property line is a necessity.
- Speaking of getting dressed, do it. Don’t have too many pajama days. Coming out of depression, I made myself a rule that I would be up and dressed in presentable, could-go-out-if-I-wanted-to clothes by 10:00 AM. Wearing frumpy clothes makes you feel frumpy. Wearing clothes not worthy of public viewing makes you feel unworthy of public viewing (or interacting). Every time you walk by a mirror, you are reminded that you’re frumpy and not worthy of other “normal” people. On the other hand, when you get dressed and look decent, you can be reminded that this is part of real life. This is not just waiting around for your husband to come home, it’s not just hanging out… this is a real job, a valuable use of your time, talents and skills.
So to answer your questions…
- I love/hate and adore/abhor being a SAHM, depending on a lot of things, primarily my attitude.
- It only gets boring when I forget to pay attention to and play with my kids. When I do that, there’s no way it could be boring.
- No, I don’t have a whole lot of time to do my hobbies when my hubby isn’t home. But I do have some. And I do find ways to fit in my hobbies while my hubby is home (I can knit AND cuddle if I use circulars).
Hope that helps you in this decision. I know it can be a scary one. Personally, I say GO FOR IT. I don’t think you’ll ever wake up in old age and say, “Gee… wish I’d spent more time working.” I think you’d be much more likely to say, “Gee… wish I’d spent more time with my kids… especially when they were little.”