In a state of everlasting exhaustion, operating on little to no sleep, here I am using a tiny toddler fork to shovel the smallest amount of pasta off my son’s leftover lunch plate into my mouth. With no time or energy to prepare something for myself, I pick from his mangled abandoned rations.
I’ve been known to sometimes plan and decide his menu based on my own selfish desires, knowing there will be scraps to pick over. Even if I did muster up the strength to evaluate ingredients on hand and then actually endure the activity of making my own meal, the end result would be me hiding in a corner trying to fend off my children from stealing food of my plate.
What have I become? I've become a stay-at-home mom, that’s what.
When I was younger, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response would vary depending on my age, the day of the week or even my attitude at the time. Throughout the years, I would entertain the idea of performing different professional roles, but never did I contemplate being a stay-at-home mom.
After college, I entered the rat race by starting my career in marketing and loved every second of it. I loved my profession and specialty. I loved the industry I worked in. Even more so, I loved the people I worked with.
Everything was great, then it happened. I had kids. After my first, I returned to the workplace after my 12-week maternity leave. We would soon fall into the routine of daycare drop-offs and pick-ups and I had the freedom of performing duties outside of the home for a purpose other than keeping my offspring alive. Sixteen months later, along came my second child. Regardless if my full intention was to once again return to the corporate world, things often don’t work out as planned.
After life laughed at my plans, I started my role as a stay-at-home mom. In the beginning, I admit, it was a difficult transition, to say the least.
My work environment and responsibilities were drastically different than what I was accustomed to. I’m on call 24/7—with no breaks or days off. Holidays and weekends are mandatory. Strategy meetings now include heated discussions on how to best build a house out of blocks or which dinosaur is best suited to lead a stampede. Some days my littles and I handle some pretty intense negotiations like trading a plastic hippo for a toy truck. Also, my work attire has become so much more comfortable–my definition of business-casual has transformed into yoga pants and flip flops. (That part is fine with me.)
I never pictured this career path. Actually, it’s exactly the opposite of what I viewed my future to be, making it more of an internal conflict.
I felt as if I was placed in a career field completely unfamiliar to me and told to figure it out. You wouldn’t put me in an operating room and tell me to perform surgery, would you? That sounds extreme, but that is exactly how I felt.
Of course, I enjoyed being home with my children and the opportunity to spend precious time with them. It just wasn’t as natural for me as it was for others. When picturing a stay-at-home mom, I envisioned those parents who love–and I mean LOVE–it. They can’t help but to scream it to the world, telling everyone and anyone. Pictures and their newsfeed describe a story of how happy their lives are with their perfect children. They fantasize over all-day arts and craft sessions followed by playgroup activities. They were a pro before popping out their first kid as if to be born with a specific gene or this innate trait. Not me.
I envy those parents and how effortless they make the job appear to be. I, on the other hand, feel as though I am always struggling through it. I’ve never tried so hard at something with no clue as to what I was doing. Some days it feels like I’m drowning barely keeping my head above water. No matter how much I research topics related to “how to” parenting, I can’t seem to figure it out.
In the past two years, I’ve learned so much about myself, about the mom and wife I want to be, and what it is to be a good parent. My children have taught me as much about myself as I have taught them about life and the world surrounding them.
Better yet, I’ve learned that no parents—including stay-at-home moms—have it all figured out. With no guide or manual, we are all in this together trying our best to raise successful contributing members of society.
This job isn’t always going to be rainbows and sunshines. There will be good days and there most certainly will be bad days.
Although this isn’t exactly what I had planned for my future, I’m embracing it to the fullest. I do believe God has set me on this path and has a greater purpose for me other than I what initially pictured. Life is full of surprises, panning out much differently than you might otherwise expect.
I may not know what’s to come or where I’ll be in the future, but I’m open to all options and disregarding whatever pretense I had. Where will I be in one year? Five years? Who knows.
Maybe I’ll return to the corporate world. Maybe I’ll be continuing my adventures of fulfilling my role as a stay-at-home mom. Maybe something completely different, I hadn’t even thought of. The point is, I don’t need to know. All that’s important is embracing the now and enjoying this precious time with my children that is passing by all too quickly. I am truly blessed and wouldn’t change a thing for the world.
It may not be work in the traditional sense with an office environment and typical duties assigned, but I think many would agree it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. Although it can be crazy, chaotic and full of surprises, it’s the best position I’ve ever had and wouldn’t trade it for the world.