Growing up I was taught that a woman can do anything, doesn't need a man to make it in this world, and that getting an education was number ONE priority. I was very independent, very determined, and very goal-oriented. The Jana of 15 years ago would NEVER have been a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). I was smart, creative, and fun! Why not share those gifts with the world?! And I did. I used that drive and all those qualities in my profession of teaching, and then I had kids.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I had fleeting thoughts of being a SAHM. I didn't want other people raising my child. But he came, and I signed my contract to teach another year. One more year, I thought. Then we'll work on saving so I can stay at home. Eight weeks after my first child was born, we found out we were pregnant with our second child. Hospital bills from the first pregnancy were still looming over us, and we were faced with trying to pay for it all once again. My son got sick, and we had to hospitalize him. It was a crazy year of having two babies and racking up our debt where there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. We just couldn't afford for me to stay at home. There was no way.
So after I had my third child, and we were finally getting ourselves back on our feet, the opportunity had come up for me to stay at home. Once I had started having kids, our goal was for me to work until J, our oldest, went to school. It seemed far-fetched at the beginning, but suddenly a reality when the time came upon us. God worked in so many ways to open doors for me to stay at home. I was getting burned out at school, my husband was getting a new job, and we were FINALLY getting in to our own home (long story for another time). It just worked. And now I am officially a SAHM. Will I ever go back to teaching? I do know. I really don't. The original plan was for me to stay at home until Abigail, our third child, started 2nd grade. That would put my oldest in middle school. The more I read about how important it is to have an adult home for the kids to see when they get off the bus, and to have an adult present at all events, the more I realize that I may never go back to working in the professional world. At this point, I still don't know.
Let me say this first, just because I am a SAHM and have a teaching degree does not mean I am homeschooling my children. I cannot tell you how many times people just assumed. I do not want to home school my kids. This subject is for another post, but I wanted to make it clear that I am not doing all the educating myself here. I am supplementing.
The job of a SAHM:
Being a SAHM ranks right up there with teaching as being one of the hardest jobs I've ever done. I did not want to be one of those moms that watched tv all day, or slept all day, or spent my husband's money all day. I wanted to be frugal, responsible, busy, and educational. The first few months were tough. I struggled with finding my purpose and a schedule at home. I found myself getting into the habit of just turning on the tv and then sort of piddling around the house. God placed on my heart a desire to really take responsibility for my new job. I decided that being a SAHM was a job. The last thing I wanted was for my husband to come home and see that he is working to keep me fat and happy all day. I wanted him to know I was working just as hard to make sure the house was clean, the food was made, the children were nurtured, and I was determined to be a great HOUSE MANAGER. I even created an evaluation form for him to fill out on me once every 3 months. After research, I found some incredible websites that helped me get organized. One, http://avirtuouswoman.org, helped me to create schedules, menu plans, chore charts, etc. I will be reviewing this website in the next few days. Another being the Hubbard's Cupboard that I reviewed last week. Both of those websites helped me to organize my home, be a better mother and wife, and to help prepare the little ones I have at home for school. I really do have a busy, busy schedule!
How it has affected my relationships:
Switching roles to be a SAHM has really affected all of my relationships. First, my husband: Joe and my relationship has grown so much over this first year of me being at home. We are praying for each other on a much more regular basis than before. I really, really want to make my husband happy. And when he is happy, so am I! If you ever read The Love Dare or The Five Love Languages, both of those books talk about if you want your spouse to love you, you must show you love him/her first! It was so hard for me to do that when I was teaching. We were both whirlwinds passing each other. Now, I am able to talk to my husband during the day, sometimes meet him for lunch, plan menus together, and create family time together. I am so happy! Second, my children: when I was teaching, I was not the best mom. I was the best working mom I could be, but it just wasn't enough. I wanted to go to my kids' first days of school, volunteer at their schools, nurture them, and supplement their education by providing educational activities at home. My fuse was SO short, and my spiritual life was not visible to them. I have bonded with my children so much better than I ever thought I would now that I am home. God is still working on me as a mom, but is this job ever complete? One of the great things I love to do with my children that I just didn't have the time for before was talking about God. My oldest son and I pray every morning. He has become SUCH a great prayer warrior! Just this morning, we talked about how I was confessing my sins to God. He got real silent, and tears began to flow. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, "Mom, I was silently talking to God and asking him to forgive me for misbehaving yesterday." I know without a doubt that I would have missed out on this if I was teaching! Third, it has affected my friendships. It has affected my friendship in two ways. Before I had decent relationships with all of my friends. I felt closer to my working, professional friends because they understood what it was to be a working mom. And although I still keep up with my working mom friends, there are times I feel they are pulling away from me. It's natural for someone to slowly exclude you from the group because you aren't there to see what is going on anymore. It makes me sad, and it is encouraging me to really focus on continuing my friendship with those ladies. They are special to me, and hopefully I can be someone they feel they can still talk to. On the other hand, it has helped me increase my relationship with other SAHMs. This is something I want to work on more as well. I have over-scheduled myself to the point of having to "pencil-in" times to be with these ladies. I do, though, appreciate these friendships on another level that I didn't experience before.
One final thing about being a SAHM: I know that being a SAHM is not meant for everyone. Not everyone can afford it. Some moms need that working environment and still manage to be incredible moms at home. When I was teaching, I felt looked down upon by so many SAHMs. They may not have intended it, but there were times were I felt pressured to quit working. I will never, ever do that.