So, you made the decision to be a stay at home mom. Congratulations. You don't know it yet, but you've made the decision to become a warrior. A warrior is someone who is on call 24/7 for a cause greater than themselves...with great discomfort and self sacrifice and little acknowledgment. And you will be in that fox hole... for years. And long after your children are grown you will sleep with one ear open, listening also with your heart for an incoming text in the dark of night with Fear as your only companion. There will be no Union mandated lunch breaks or cigarette breaks. You will not be made to punch out at 5:00pm or get any paid overtime. ...in fact you will not receive a paycheck at all. You will not be Employee of the Month and get a special parking place with your name on it. Many days you will feel completely invisible and unacknowledged for your sacrifice. You will do battle against cultural ideas of what you and your life should look like, against the opinions of family and friends...but mostly and unrelentingly you will do battle within your own mind. You will question your own value. You will question your adequacy as a mother. You will question your own significance. In your insecurity and exhaustion you will make assumptions about what people think about you and are saying about you. You will feel judged and criticized by benign comments or looks from strangers and even your closest relations. There will be little to no immediate gratification in knowing if all your hard work is paying off, or ever will. And worse still, there may be days when you think you have your purse on your lap and look down only to realize it is your lap sitting on your lap. And you will wonder "What in the hell has happened to me?"
Your husband, on the other hand will come and go as he pleases. His life will be full of adult conversations. He will go pee when he feels like it, and will sit down to eat meals. He will be acknowledged for doing his job, if in no other way, at least by receiving a pay check with his name on it. There will be days when you will take issue with him about that... even hold it against him that he has such freedom ...because you feel so trapped. You've lost the You that you knew and wonder if that person will ever be present in your life again.
...and alllll these questions and little seeds of doubt will sprout tiny roots of bitterness and resentment that will slowly take hold and grow and begin to impact your attitudes and behaviors and speech. You will wonder how it is possible that such gratitude and joy about being a mom can reside in such close proximity to chaotic, swirling negative feelings about being a mom. Guilt and Shame will stay perched nearby where they can keep watch for cracks and faults and flaws and they will wag their long, boney fingers with accusations.
But hey! You're a stay at home mom! It's going to be great!
Good things to know when you are a new mom:
- Your partner will not understand what you are experiencing and feeling (even if they say they do). Don't expect them to.
- You are not a victim of anything. You've been chosen for a very important job that you are equipped for.
- No one can read your mind...even if you think they should be able to. Say what you need.
- Taking some time for yourself each week is healthy. No water can flow from an empty well.
Figure out what you want and need to feel like a human being, not just a mothership.
Decide exactly, practically what that looks like. (2 hrs., 2x per week... nap, shop by yourself, pedicure, lunch with friend, long walk...)
Make the arrangements for that to happen. Schedule it. Do not put the responsibility of those arrangements on your partner.
Let your spouse / partner know what you are going to do. They will be so pleased that you created a solution instead of bitching and venting your frustration at them.
Do not feel guilty about it. It's is as important as breathing and eating.
- Generally other people are not really judging you. Most everyone is too self-absorbed to be spending much time and attention on you. If they are scrutinizing you, it is only to compare themselves in order to feel better about all the very same things you are questioning within yourself. You are fabulous. Don't waste your time.
- In your everyday, daily deal with your child you are doing the Jesus thing: sharing love while you sit down, while you walk along the road, while you lay down for a nap with them, while you cut their grapes in half. You are talking to them about being good and kind. You are demonstrating to them loyalty, creativity, faithfulness, brokenness, courage, forgiving and receiving forgiveness, humility, and victory...sometimes in just the littlest ways.
- You and what you bring to the table matter... alot. Some days what you do will be done in your pajamas...all. day. long... without brushed hair or teeth... but you are there. And it matters.
- You will blow it... really screw up. And the greatest thing you will do is show your minions how to get back up, own your responsibility, let go of what you are not responsible for, ask forgiveness, give yourself grace and march on.
- Having children is as much or more about God teaching, maturing, and refining you as it is about setting a foundation for them. Be aware of that. Be open to that.
- Relax. You do this by relinquishing the delusion that you really have any control over anything. It's all in God's hands. Stay sober. Show up. Do your best and trust Him for what he has said in His Word.
- Get to know His Word. ...it matters.
Make everyday a Happy Mother Day. You have a choice in the matter. Choose well.