Sometimes I feel guilty for being a stay at home mom.
My kids are not infants, and I’ve always worked in fast-paced and high-stress positions. The “lull” during the day when the kids are gone make me wonder if I am pulling my weight, or just being lazy.
Then I realize that not everything we give to our families can be qualified monetarily. As a stay at home mom, I am able to get my youngest from school so she can start homework at 3pm (instead of 6pm). I can take the kids to appointments without worrying about work. I have time to plan and prepare healthier meals. And the most challenging (at least for me) is that I can keep up with the laundry and keep the house tidy.
But by far the biggest benefit is the fact that I am not tired and stressed from a long day at work. I’m present and engaged, versus going through the motions. I’m not screaming at the kids for every little thing, and I’m not constantly worrying that I should be cleaning whenever I try to relax. That alone has changed our family dynamic immensely. Can you buy that with a paycheck? NOPE. And trust me, because I tried!
I used to be a career woman, juggling a family. I tried to compensate for being “too busy” to bake cookies from scratch, or play a round of Super Mario Bros on the Wii, by saying I needed to clean the house or do laundry. The result was that I was merely a shadow in the house- I was there but certainly not present. The atmosphere was always tense, because I was always thinking that there was something else that needed to be done immediately. My stress became their stress- and pretty soon everyone was feeling tense. I knew I was the source of this, but I felt powerless to fix it.
And in a way, I was powerless. I was anxious, depressed and felt like a bad mom. I had to take anxiety medication to “relax,” and I couldn’t sleep so I had to take another pill before bed.
I know this isn’t a unique story- moms and dads work very hard and many of us find ourselves in this predicament. I merely saw a chance to exit the race, and did it. We live modestly, we avoid credit cards as much as possible and we have made some sacrifices (bye-bye cable!) to accommodate our new lifestyle.
When the kids ask why we can’t go to Disneyland as much as we used to, or take off for a weekend in Palm Springs anymore, I gently remind them of the bigger picture. Our family time is no longer packed into a day at a theme park or a weekend in a hotel- it is every single day.
I’ve heard from friends that I’m wasting my schooling and higher degree, and limiting future career options with this little “time out.” Is that true? Perhaps… though I wasn’t working in my degree fields before, and I still “know what I know.” Maybe just inspiring my kids to reach for their dreams, which require a lot of schooling, is the best way I can put my degrees to use?
So I’m going to read this post the next time I doubt myself and my “value” in today’s society. For now, though, I’ve got some grocery shopping and tidying up to do. The laundry is done…well, it is in the dryer getting wrinkled. At least the hampers are empty! 😉