On Being a Stay At Home Mom: It’s NOT About Me

Okay, so I said that being a SAHM is all about me, and in one respect that’s true.  Everything I do comes from who I am; therefore, if I’m terribly broken and incomplete, my role in my home and family will be severely fractured and out of balance. But if I’m strong, emotionally healthy, and However, if I use my time at home to reflect on myself and my interactions with my family and my things then I become a wholesome contributor in my environment.  When it comes to being a SAHM, as with anything else in life, I need to focus on who I am, who I’m not, who I’m becoming.

But as much as it is about me, it’s also not about me at all.  NotAtAll.  And if I haven’t begun the journey of becoming who I need to be (the “all about me” part) then I will always have a difficult time in my role as a SAHM, because for the majority of my days, I live for everyone else.  My kids wake up before God . . . I need to be there for them.   Another diaper needs changing . . . my kids don’t ask if now would be a convenient time.  A cup of spilled milk on the living room carpet . . . it’s not really something I can put off for a couple of hours.  Following kids around all day long picking up the same toys over and over, washing dishes, handing out morsels of food and beverages in a seemingly relentless cycle–these are the activities that make up a day.  Then get up and do it all over again.

However, when I chose to stay at home, even though I had a college degree and a desire to “succeed” in my chosen field, I didn’t do it for myself.  I knew going into it that there would be no promotions or pay raises.  I knew there would be no evaluations to tell me if I was doing a good job or not.  And I was very well aware that my interactions with other adults, especially while my kids were young–during the potty-training, nap-time years–would be minimal.  I knew that being a SAHM would be more a matter of emotional and personal perseverance than anything else.

I mean, let’s face it, the actual duties within the home aren’t that hard.  Anyone can wash dishes.  Anyone can change diapers.  Anyone can learn to make healthy meals.  Picking up toys?  Even two year olds can do that.  And doing these things all day long?  Well, construction workers work much harder for very long hours so it’s not about stamina or physical taxation.  The battle to be won is one about self — selfish vs. selfless.

When I make all about me in the right areas, it becomes so much easier to handle all those other areas where it’s not about me.  My kids don’t care if I’m fulfilled in my role at home, they care if they’re fulfilled.  In childhood, children can’t see past themselves, but at some point they’re supposed to out-grow that self-centeredness and be balanced enough to accept others’ universes colliding and co-existing with their own.  But even if they don’t really care, in a rational sense, about my personal fulfillment, they will experience my ability or inability to accept their universes displacing the orbit of mine.

Being a SAHM is all about them.  I do it because I know the consistency is valuable for their sense of security, and that sense of security is valuable to their confidence in themselves and their place in the world.  I do it because I know that the routine I help provide and maintain is valuable in them understanding boundaries, having healthy minds, emotions and bodies.  I do it because laying down my life–my personal aspirations, preferences, television programs, waking and sleeping times, wardrobe choices–is the model given to me in the Scriptures I love.  And I realize that in doing so, the rewards outweigh the sacrifice.

But don’t be fooled.  I don’t live my life for my kids and kids alone.  I’ve made some parts of my life about me, like I said before.  The key is in knowing where it’s about me and where it’s not.  And if I, you, we, just hang in there long enough, we’ll find the balance.

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