SAHM Status

I did it.

Last Friday, I officially handed in my notice and will be joining the ranks of stay-at-home moms (with the exception of night classes) when our oldest starts school in August.  

Photo by  Kate Bernard

Photo by Kate Bernard

I'm equal parts thrilled and terrified.

I left the teaching profession at the end of last school year so that I could spend more time with our family, but our finances still necessitated at least part-time work on my end.  My ultimate goal was to spend the kids' "little years" at home, and my husband's recent job promotion will allow me to do just that.  

Obviously, I won't arrive at the end of my life and wish that I had spent more time working.  However, the "terrified" part of me wonders if I will miss having an outlet for a few hours every day.  I worry about money.  I'm intimidated by other SAHMs, who appear to do all the things with all the kids and stay perfectly put-together in the meantime.   Will I fit in?  Will I be fun?  Will I share the "right" opinions with other mommas?  (Lord knows moms are never short on opinions.)

The "thrilled" part of me has been reminding the terrified part that I can do hard things, that I am bigger than my fears.  God gave my girls to me, and I have the unique opportunity to shape their hearts and minds like no one else can.

Above the other feelings, I am free.  For the first time in years, I'm free to say "yes" to all kinds of opportunities that a job outside the home never allowed.  At least for one year before I start my dental hygiene program, I get to live this dream that I've had since I was my daughter's age.

I've been wanting to say this for a long time: I am one of the lucky few.  I am a stay-at-home mom.

Stay tuned for our next adventure(s).  Big things ahead for Team Fenrick. :)    

They need me the most.

We wore the heat that day.  

Despite the reapplied sunscreen, tank tops, liters of ice water, and handheld fans, the three of us exited the zoo with tears and sweat streaming down our faces.  

Approximately 15 seconds before meltdown central commenced.

Approximately 15 seconds before meltdown central commenced.

We were supposed to leave for our adventure at 9:30, before the Oklahoma sun began beating down in full force, but our friends had car trouble.  Forty-five minutes after our planned departure, I finally piled my girls into our Santa Fe.  Our friends would meet us at the zoo after their car issue was resolved.  The heat index was already over 100, and my 11-month-old had not taken her morning nap, a sure sign of impending disaster.

The diaper bag ran out of snacks, and we all ran out of patience before our friends were able to leave the car dealership.  Determined, at the very least, to see them before we headed home, I bought an expensive and tasteless zoo lunch and coaxed my girls to "eat and have a good time, dang it".  

When the actual temperature reached 105, our friends arrived.  I unenthusiastically pushed my melting babes to the flamingo exhibit, where everyone (including me) completely fell apart.  Screaming ensued, and we made a beeline to our overheated SUV, but not before my two-year-old unbuckled herself from the stroller and crashed onto the concrete.

"At least they'll nap when we get home," I reassured myself.  They didn't.  They were both too traumatized to calm themselves down, and my own hysterics were definitely not soothing.

***

Going to the zoo was a horrible idea for many reasons including the heat, the ages of my kids, and the day's already-thwarted plans.  I knew that it was a horrible plan, and I went anyway.

I wanted to go to the zoo more than my kids did.  I just wanted to be a "good mom".  But I wanted it at their expense.  

Social media does this thing to us, but we also do it to ourselves, this placing of expectations and definitions upon us of what it means to be a good parent, or even a good person.  We see others' best moments through a filter and determine to make them our best moments, too.   

I longed to create an amazing summer for my people last year.  In my mind, this meant going to as many "experiences" as possible.  The zoo was one of them.  The splash pad was another.  My oldest HATED the splash pad, but I was determined to change her mind about it, so I kept taking her.  Everyone cried every time.

This summer, we've mostly stayed home.  We did go to the zoo, once, for an hour, and that was after rescheduling twice with my friend (which I should have done last year).  No one cried.  Even with the same Oklahoma heat that we all endured in Summer 2016, I would go so far as to say that this year's zoo trip was enjoyable.  

I've learned a few things in the past twelve months.

One.  At their young ages, my kids really can't handle much.  They like being home, and they like their little routines.  Often, they're okay with doing activities that I consider "boring."  Maybe I'm the one who isn't.  But I think I can learn to be.  I probably need to lower my expectations.

Two.  The moments between the "Instagram moments" are often the most precious.  Obviously, I take and post pictures at our bigger events.  I rarely ever post pictures of myself doing a floor puzzle with my oldest or reading my youngest's favorite book for the 87th time (today).  There are a thousand little things that we do as a family every day that don't get documented.  So no, I'm not "cool" in terms of giving my kids the most extravagant experiences.  In the "small great things" that we do, though, they're happy.

Three.  There is no better way to crush your spirit than by playing the comparison game.  This is true in all areas of life.  If you're scrolling through your social media feed, as I often do, and feeling as though you're not attractive, not a good parent, not well-dressed, not adventurous, not a foodie, etc. etc. etc., I dare you to turn off your phone and begin to consider the things that you are.  You cannot compare your own life to what you see of another's through a filter.

Four.  It's okay to say no.  As a mom of young children, I frequently feel as though I'm in a never-ending season of "no".  No, we can't go do that today because it's during naptime.  We've had a rough day, so I think we are going to stay home this afternoon.  We haven't had much time as a family recently, so we'll take a raincheck on dinner.  Be a Nap Nazi.  Take a deep breath.  Cancel your plans.  You might have FOMO or FOHOF (Fear of Hurting Other's Feelings), but I can almost guarantee that your kids don't and that your friends will totally understand. 

Hopefully my daughters won't remember that horrendous zoo day last year.  Maybe they'll remember this year's good one.  Either way, I want them to remember a mom who gave them herself, because they need me the most.

About Having Kids and Having Plans

In a life I lived many moons ago, I was productive.  I made lists and got stuff done.  Always.  Nothing stood in my way.    

After Piper was born, I loved her more than I thought a heart was capable of loving, and I also was so. very. tired.  Infants are incredibly demanding. Thus began the days of Never Getting Anything Done Anymore.  

My husband and I decided to wait until Piper was in Pre-K, when childcare would be free and she would be more self-sufficient, to start the adoption process again (now!).  God had another idea, and Caroline was born shortly after Piper turned two.  Then, I discovered the true meanings of "busy" and "distracted".  When people say that the adjustment of going from one child to two is far greater than the adjustment of going from no children to one, they aren't lying.  There is never a single moment during "life with littles" (except sometimes in the middle of the night, and even that isn't guaranteed) when someone doesn't need something. 

I've learned a thing or two about multi-tasking.

I've learned a thing or two about multi-tasking.

Having kids is challenging in the best way possible.   Sometimes I long for a morning to sleep in past 6:00, a date with my husband, the privilege of crossing just one completed item out of my planner, something tangible to show for the work that I do as their mom, or, my goodness, a single quiet moment(!), but I don't ever wish for my old life back.  My children force me to be less selfish, better with my time, more patient, and less tight-fisted with my money.  At the end of my life, I know I won't look back and say, "I spent too much time paying attention to them."  

One of the biggest lessons that my girls have taught me in the last four years is that children are not interruptions but opportunities.  I can choose to see them as plan-destroyers and remain in a constant state of annoyance when they sabotage my schedule, which happens about every three minutes.  Or, I can choose to see them as future productive citizens, friends, moms, wives, and disciples.  I get the primary privilege of raising them to be such.  Which item on my day's agenda could be more pressing than that?

Today, I got basically nothing done on my "to-do list."  But hey, my kids ate three solid meals, the house hasn't been burned down or flooded with tears, everyone is still alive, and we are all (hopefully) a little more kind and a little less narcissistic than we were yesterday.  I'm redefining "productivity," and I guess that makes today a pretty productive day.