I didn’t always want to be a stay at home mom.
I always wanted kids. I wanted girls. Specifically, I wanted two girls who were exactly like my sister and I. Sisters who would play together, share everything, and be best friends.
I hadn’t really thought about the details- the husband, the life we would have together, what I would be when I grew up, what our life would be like. So when I got pregnant at 21, I wasn’t disappointed that I hadn’t finished college or gotten married, had a job, or had anything in life figured out.
I can’t believe I wasn’t terrified.
I didn’t finish college. I worked at Arby’s. Todd and I ended up getting married a few months before our oldest daughter was born, which turns out to have been the best decision I have ever made. He had strong feelings about having a wife who stayed home to raise kids. I thought it sounded like an easy gig. I was easy to please and went along with it.
Todd ended up hating his job, so we moved to Minnesota, where we had our second daughter. Family complete! I was staying home, in a mom’s group (where all of the moms were 10+ years older than me and several income brackets higher), and loving it, aside from the fact that the girls and I didn’t see Todd much. Todd was commuting over an hour each way to work. We had very little time or money. Todd was miserable. Then, 6 months after we had daughter number 2, I was pregnant. And devastated.
This next thing I regret. I was so upset that I was pregnant again, I decided that Todd should have a vasectomy. He agreed.
We moved to Todd’s hometown for him to take over his family business. He was a natural salesman and would eventually own the business, but at first we made a modest living. I decided that to contribute, I needed to finish college, and spent the next 10 years earning a Master’s degree in Nursing. Some years I worked part-time, some years I worked full-time, some years I stayed home.
All of those years, I studied.
When I was home, I was constantly trying to keep the girls busy so I could work. I would put the girls to bed and study for an exam the next day or take them to day care so I could go to class. I was a great student. I had a 4.0 GPA at 4 different nursing programs. I impressed. I overachieved. I spent hours at my computer writing, participating in discussions, listening to lectures. I even got an A in Applied Statistics (barf).
Two years ago, I got a full-time faculty position at the community college in the town where we live. The job was perfect! I was doing exactly what I wanted. The pay was good, the hours were good, and the benefits were great. I loved the work and the students. However, I recently resigned to be home with my kids full time.
Some days I regret putting in all of those years studying, distracted from my children. I wish I could go back and reclaim that time. Enjoy them. Not be exasperated when they ask for the sixth time for me to watch them do something or read them the same book again. I would have more patience. I would have them potty trained earlier. I would teach them to read sooner (or at all). I would have enjoyed those years more.
More often, I realize that I still would have been distracted. By something else- probably by wishing I was doing something more than simply being at home with them. Something like studying to be a nurse. They probably wouldn’t have been potty trained much earlier, or read sooner, and I would not have had more patience.
Todd and I are opposites. He is assertive, I am agreeable. He likes to go out, I like to be home. He is super organized; I am much less organized. He very often has a plan. I rarely have a plan. When we got pregnant and decided to get married, our plan, (which was mostly his), was for me to stay home. At some point in our marriage, I felt like I wanted to have plans of my own. That’s why I decided to go to school.
Don’t get the idea here that I resent my husband for wanting me to stay home. I don’t. He has always supported everything I have wanted to do, including paying 10 plus years of expensive college tuition and my recent resignation from a well paying job with health benefits. He is wonderful. But he knew from the beginning that I should stay home with the kids. I always worried that there was more I should be doing. I didn’t have any stay-at-home mom role models to show me that it was a good choice for us. I didn’t look for books or blogs where moms were talking about how important it was to be at home. I thought working was going to bring me joy.
But you don’t have to be like me.
Being a stay-at-home mom is what works for our family. Our girls are 12, 13, and 16. I don’t have any diapers to change or play dates to schedule. I can take the kids to school and then have the house to myself for the rest of the day. Most days that will mean cleaning, cooking, and running errands, and I am okay with that. Being a stay at home mom of older kids means that I am available. For early-outs, for field trips, for spring break, for college visits. For days when one of them calls me from the nurse’s office because they had a fight with their best friend or a boy called them names, or one of them forgot tampons. For days when Todd has a meeting out of town and has to be gone overnight, or wants to go on vacation in the middle of the school year.
The years that it took me to realize that I should be staying home were not for nothing. I have experienced most ways of being a mother- from home, from work, and everywhere in between. Now I can tell you which way is the best:
being at home with your kids of any age.
This blog is for the mom who works and dreams of being at home. It’s for the mom who is at home and feels stuck. It’s for the new mom who isn’t sure whether she should stay home, and the experienced mom with teenagers who wants to hang on to the time she has left.
It’s for you.