I wish: A Reflection on Stay at Home Motherhood

roses via kimberlyanncoyle.com

It is 7am on the first morning of our summer break, and already I hear feet crossing the upstairs floorboards. I am “blessed” with children who like to both stay up late and rise early. I find sanity-saving quiet between the hours of 11pm and 6am. Unfortunately, this doesn’t jive with my natural biorhythms, if you know what I mean.I don’t think I can express how hard summer is for an introvert mama.

At 11pm last night, I read a few posts at new-to-me blogs about homemaking and housekeeping. Sometimes I like to see how the other half lives. The writers wrote about taking joy in keeping a home, about the pleasures of stay-at-home motherhood, and about finding fulfillment in our role as chief housekeeper. My gut-honest reaction was disbelief. Do women really feel like this? If they do, I literally do not know a single one of them. Maybe I’m hanging out in the wrong circles?

After my feelings of disbelief passed, and I hurdled my first judgmental instincts, I felt something a little like longing. Deep down, I think I want to be that wife. I want to be that mom. I want to be the one who finds the greatest satisfaction in keeping a home and throwing wildly creative birthday parties and baking homemade bread just because I can. (I can’t by the way. My husband finally took matters into his own hands and got up at 5am to bake bread for us a while back.)

There is something so precious about a woman who gives her all to her family. Why does my heart instinctually want to judge this as somehow a less-than approach to womanhood–a throwback to the 1950’s? Here’s the irony–I am this woman. I chose to stay home, but I have never found a deep sense of satisfaction in it. For fifteen years, my husband sacrificed and worked hard and made all the money–every last bit of it–so I could stay home with our children. I have what so many women dream of, and I haven’t always found joy in it. Rather than fully embracing this decision, I live in a constant state of tension. If “home-making” was a paying job, my boss would fire me. Immediately.

I wish I had dug deeper, past the hard places, past the silt and rock, straight down until I struck the gold. There is gold here. I wish I’d worked harder, enjoyed more, been more emotionally present. I wish I’d let myself sit on the sofa and read all the books while the kids played with blocks at my feet, rather than scrambling to scrub things while giving in to feelings of deep frustration. The years were good, but they could have been better. They were a satisfying meal, but they should have been a feast.

……….

Thanks so much for indulging my navel gazing. If you’re a mom–working or stay at home–how do you find joy in your current situation? Do you feel the tension too, or am I crazy? However you choose to wife and parent, I hope you find contentment and deep, abiding joy in your decision. Maybe you can teach me?

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  • Proof once again that we’re twins. And also encouragement to seize the messy, difficult, clamoring days of summer and grip them with gratitude.

  • Angela Parlin

    Oh girl. I mean. I so get this. So many lines I love here…Do women really feel like this??? I can’t tell you how many times I hear things from “precious” mamas and think, REALLY? BUT REALLY? Because that’s not the way I experience these things… Anyway, the part about if this were a real job, you’d be fired was so great b/c I’ve told my husband that before. Thankfully, he reminds me that my Momming doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s, even if it does seem like 80+% of them have got the whole Betty Homemaker thing down in ways I don’t. Also, I totally resonate with the wishes you expressed here, and hope I’ll spend this summer digging deeper and enjoying more. Thank you for this…