Tuesday, September 18, 2018

5 Things I Didn't Know Would Happen When I Became a Stay-at-Home-Mom

It was December 2012.  I had wrapped up my fourteenth semester teaching composition at our local university.  I loved my job, but I had a secret.  

In October, we were matched with an expectant mom due to have an African American baby boy in January.   We were thrilled to have the opportunity to become parents again, this time to our first son.  He would be our third child.  

While we eagerly awaited his arrival, I had to make a decision.  The spring semester was set to start just days before the baby's due date.  Being a family by adoption, we knew the risks.  We knew the baby was "the baby" and not "our baby" if and until decisions were made.  

I was on-the-fence about what to do.  Continue with the job I loved and hope I could get out of my classes if he became ours, continue the job in the case that he didn't become ours, or leave my job and "wait and see" the outcome of the adoption match.

I was tormented by this choice, but I ultimately decided to let my boss know that we were matched to adopt, and I didn't want to proceed with the semester only to leave them in a bind a few days in if the baby became ours.  

A leap of faith.

I had taken as semester off work with each baby who came our way up until that point.  I planned to do the same if baby boy became ours.  

He did.  He became ours.  

As the end of spring semester approached, I made the big decision not to return to teaching in the fall.   Mostly because teaching composition means a lot of intense, long grading sessions where I poured over stacks and stacks of student essays.  With three kids, it was hard to find part-time child care, and even if I did manage to sneak away for a grading session, it was hard to focus.   

So I made the decision to become a SAHM.

And here's what happened that I never anticipated:  

1:  I became jealous of my husband.

He got up in the morning, put on nice clothes, and spent thirty minutes driving to work, listening to whatever he wanted on the radio.  Then he spent the day in his own private office, intermittently talking to grown-ups about grown-up things, having lunch (sometimes even out at an actual restaurant or the cafeteria), and getting breaks to use the restroom (alone!).  Then he spent thirty minutes driving home, again listening to whatever he wanted to on the radio.   

2:  I'd vacillate between busyness and boredom.

Some days were sheer chaos.  Frantic.  Anxiety-ridden.  One thing after the next.  Exhaustion was the name of my game.  

Other days were boring.  There were many sick days, grouchy days, or days when nothing (activity-wise) was appealing.  I'd wonder, what is my life's purpose?  What am I here for?  Is what I'm doing meaningful?  To whom?  

3:  I was lonely.

Making mommy-friends is NOT easy.  I hosted many playdates, but some left me exhausted (the mom's kids were bad, the mom didn't offer to help pick up the tornado the kids created, etc.).  Others just weren't a "match."   And taking all my kids (ages 4, 2, and infant) at that time was next-to-impossible.  I only had two hands!  

I totally got why my mom would spend hours doing chores while chatting on the phone with her cousin or friend, the corded phone stretched far from room-to-room.  Because SAHM needs connnection.  We need reminders that we are human beings who aren't just moms.  

4: I constantly was asked to justify my decision.

To this day, I'm asked, "When are you going back to teaching?"  It's as if the sacrifices I make daily aren't quite "up there" with teaching college students.  Or that I'm somehow missing out on real life or not living up to my potential or wasting my degrees because I spent my days with babies.  

The truth is that being a SAHM is the hardest job I've ever had.  It's also the best job.   It's messy and beautiful and frustrating and fulfilling. 

The questions only made me feel guilty.  Why wasn't I more grateful for being a SAHM?   Why didn't I enjoy every. single. second.?   

5:  I'd become obsessed with my children.

When your job is to raise babies, you become obsessed with the babies.  Their every need, their every "first," their every poop incident (ya'll know it's true!).  Your life becomes your kids.

That's the point of becoming a SAHM, isn't it?  To KNOW every single thing about your kids and walk them through life?  

I'm definitely no martyr.  I know being a SAHM is a privilege, and for me, it was a choice.  But if I didn't tell you the truth, that SAHM life is REALLY damn hard, I'd be a liar. 

What happened to you when you became a SAHM?  Or did you go from being a SAHM to working full time outside the home?  What lessons have you learned?  Did adopting change your decision about working or staying home?

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