This post has been stewing in my head for about a week. I’ve been trying to get my thoughts and emotions in order so I don’t come off sounding judgemental, crazy or like I’m a 50’s housewife. I’m not sure that’s going to happen but do know that I’m going into this with good intentions.
The timing of this post is actually quite funny. A long time friend of mine did a post a few days ago about her journey and her feelings on being a stay at home mom. While this is by no means intended to be a rebuttal, her words did spark some more ideas for this post. Then today in Maclean’s magazine I read a couple articles on topics close to this and again got inspired to write about why I made the decision I did.
A little background on me. As a preteen, I think I would have been considered a little budding feminist. I got books out from the library on great women of our time, I was all “I don’t need no man!” and so on. My two younger sisters aspired to be housewives and I thought they were crazy idiots. (sorry girls!) You see, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a journalist or a travel agent or a lawyer but I knew I wasn’t going to live my life canning fruit and taking kids to the park.
Flash forward 10 years. Both my little sisters have more education than I do, both enjoy being part of the work force, both bringing home the bacon. And me? I’m everything I used to think I’d hate to be and I love it.
I think little by little I started to break down. I wanted to marry when I was in my late twenties. But then there was Jordan and I wanted to marry him NOW. I married at 19. (In retrospect- WHAT?! 19. I see 19 year olds now and just about die when I think I was married at that age.) Well, now I wanted to be just that young double income couple doing our own thing, jet setting around the world, eating fine foods and staying out late every night. And then came Abby. I was 21. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew my working days were numbered.
I think it is so important to stay home with your kids. I do. I’ll say it. I think if you can, you should. I know that isn’t a popular opinion because most people don’t. For me, I just can’t possibly imagine anything more important than your children, being there to raise them and being there for each milestone, big or small, throughout their lives. I know that’s a touchy subject so I’m going to back away from it now and explain why it IS for me.
For Jordan and I, the decision for me to stay home was a no -brainer. We wanted the relationship with our children, we wanted them raised a certain way, with certain morals and values, we wanted them surrounded by love, peace & happiness. We wanted a listening ear to always be available or a hug and kiss when they are feeling blue. It’s undisputable, there’s no one out there who loves them, cares for them, cherishes them as much or as deeply as we do as their parents. So who better for the job?
At first I thought I’d stay home until my youngest was in elementary school and then head back part time. But the more I think about it and the more people I talk to, the less I understand this logic. I know some parents who work until their kids are in school and then stay home because it’s been said that older kids need their parents more than babies and toddlers (which I disagree with to some extent. I think they just need them in different ways.) I can’t imagine applying that logic to say, your marriage. “Honey, let’s both work our butts off the first few years of our marriage so we can stock pile our money and then we’ll be so happy.” I don’t think so. Your marriage will lack that vital foundation and you’ll have missed out on those precious first few years together when the relationship is so fresh and vulnerable and needs to be built upon. I think the same would happen with parenting. I can’t imagine not being around much for the first few years of my kids lives and then expect to step in and say “I’m here now.” There are parts of a relationship with a child that can ONLY be built in those first years. That’s fact. Not at all implying that you can’t have a great relationship with your child if you only truly begin in the later years but there are bonds and attachments made very early on that you can’t rewind and redo.
So now, after being a stay at home mom since November 2004, I think this ‘career’ is going to be a long lasting one. I want to be that mom who can come to school when my kindergartener threw up all over her desk, the mom who always has something tasty at the bake sale, the mom who gets on the school bus with the kids to go on the field trips, the mom who writes goofy notes and puts them in our lunch boxes, the mom who is waiting at home after school with a healthy snack and welcoming arms, ready to listen to all the tales from the day. Because that’s what my mom was and I think I’m a better person, a better mom, because of it. I can’t imagine having to had lock the door behind me as I headed out to the school bus, came home to an empty house or had nothing to bring to the bake sale. I think we very wrongly assume what is important to children. It isn’t the toys, the fancy vacations or the trendy clothes, it’s the small things that I’ve just mentioned.
My mind is just whirling right now. I have so much to say. I have so much information and evidence to back me up. I know I’m holding back with this post, with fears of offending others mostly. Anyway …
Want to hear about my day so far? A typical day.
I woke up and nursed Josie, played with her and fed her breakfast. She went down for her morning nap about 10 minutes before Abby even woke up for the day. Abby woke up and wanted me to snuggle her in bed. We snuggled and visited and laughed for awhile before both of our tummies started grumbling. We went to the kitchen, me still in my pjs and Abby in a princess costume and ate the banana muffins we made together yesterday, fresh strawberries and cheese. We both were chilly since I left the windows open the night before to air out the house a bit after some hot humid days. We ran to the couch, grabbed a blanket and a stack of books. We ignored the phone as it rang and stayed snuggled under our fuzzy blanket. Abby had the urge to color and did so as I started in on some laundry and cleaned the kitchen. Josie woke from her nap and we headed out to London Drugs to pick up a few things. Josie sat in the front basket, happy as a clam and Abby, held the side of the cart and skipped along the aisles with me, pausing to check out the clearance rack of toys. We met Jordan at home for lunch. While it was cooking in the oven, all four of us went into the backyard to play on the swingset for awhile. When he left, Josie went to sleep and Abby is currently sitting up in her room doing sewing cards. And me? I’m sitting here on the computer trying to think of one good reason that it isn’t ideal for me to be a stay at home mom. Trying to come up with one reason that this isn’t the best it could get for all 4 of us.
The benefits are endless. You never have to leave the house in the winter. I’m there for my girls and my man 24 hours a day, whenever they need me. The house is clean. The cupboards are always overflowing. The girls are happy, healthy, smiling, bright. During nap time, I have the time to do other things that I find fullfilling. After working all day, Jordan comes home to a good meal and a happy, rested, well adjusted kids and a wife who’s pretty sure her life couldn’t get any better. Everyone’s needs are met. We have time for each other. We never have to wake anyone to rush out the door to daycare in the morning. We can go with the flow. We don’t have to squish a day full of housework and together time into a few short hours in the evening. It really really works for us.
I have so enjoyed staying home with my girls and have not once wished I would be working. Those moments of snuggling your little baby all afternoon, or getting your sick little toddler comfy with a snack, a blanket and a favorite t.v. show, of picking up your excited preschooler from her first day of preschool, watching those first steps, encouraging those first words, placing a crayon in your little one’s hand for the very first time, teaching your daugter to bake cookies – those moments are irreplaceable, you can never request a do-over and they mean the world to me.
I know I am so fortunate that I am able to be a stay at home mom. We are blessed with Jordan’s job and with his willingness to be our bread winner. With this luxury of staying home, of course comes with sacrifices too. Our house is modest, we have one vehicle, we aren’t the world travellers we hoped we would be. But at the end of my life I’m sure I’d regret lack of time spent with my children over an extra few hundred square feet on our house.
That’s why I do what I do.