To the sad, frustrated young mother who feels like a failure and thinks maybe it was all a mistake after all, you aren’t cut out for being a mommy, or you wouldn’t be crying so hard today.
You are a mom, and while I think older moms do share this, young women who are not mothers don’t hear it. But the fact is guilt and feelings of inadequacy do come with the territory. I have weepy moments now because I feel like I’ve failed or am failing my kids- and the funny thing is, the oldest two used to laugh at me over this (in a nice way, but still). Well, now they are mothers. and they understand it better.
Isn’t it boring? Well…. yes. Sometimes.
There were* moments* and certain aspects of being a sahm that were tedious, mind numbing, and made me want to flee, but that is true of every single job I can think of, and it wasn’t homemaking as a whole I wanted to run away from, just stuff like cleaning toilets. I was raised by a full time career woman (she was back on the job when I was six weeks old and she’s in her seventies and still works part time because it drives her nuts not to.). It was definitely hardest when all I had were toddlers and my husband was flying off to Korea or the Philippines once a month.
It doesn’t have to look like Leave it to Beaver, indeed, it really shouldn’t. Neither must homemaking be dull, boring, lacking in stimulation, and without any intellectual outlet. It will be more miserable than it needs to be if you are convinced children should be catered to with an artificial, child-centered environment only.
I remember once standing in a shoppette with my then two kids (a shoppette is a military convenience store, like a 7/11)- while we were in the shop, the cashier had been griping to the guy stocking the sodas. She complained about her job, the store, the manager, the shoppette system in general. The entire time we were there, she was in her 3X5 foot space behind the counter in a store that was the size of my living room. And when I checked out, she asked me why my girls were not in school. I said we homeschooled. She said, “Oh, I could never stay home with kids all day. I need more stimulation that that.”
I could only blink and look blankly at that tiny, limited little store and wonder why she thought that was more stimulating than what I did.
But then, I didn’t need somebody else to tell me what to do to find mental stimulation, and I also did not buy into the notion that kids should be entertained with just cutesy kiddy stuff all day long. In Japan I learned to snorkel, took my kids out snorkeling with me (a 2 and 3 y.o. at the time), collected sea shells, learned their scientific names, and then taught the names to my kids. We sorted them, I used them to teach about creation in Bible class. In Alaska I turned to learning to identify animal tracks and signs of moose and beaver as well as other wildlife. In Nebraska, I learned about chickens and goats as we set up our own little homestead with a garden, and I taught myself to can, make cheese, and taught my kids to milk the goats and take care of the chickens. In Washington I learned about setting up a small business and selling things online, started reading classics, harder books than any I’d ever tried in college.
I read my kids books and poetry that I liked, taught them music and songs that I enjoyed- they’ve heard Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Beowulf when they were babies and preschoolers, and I learned a gajillion folk songs because I loathed Barney the dinosaur but I loved genuine folk music.
I’m not dismissing the doldrums that come when you switch from constant outside affirmation and interaction to being at home with nobody to communicate with who can speak in two syllables at a time, and I’m not saying the specifics of what I did is necessarily *the* model. But I am saying that I do think part of the reason people struggle with becoming homemakers is because of unrecognized assumptions we’ve picked up from a society that does not really value home-makers or children as human beings instead of dress up dolls, and that hasn’t placed a high premium on being self directed when it comes to mental stimulation.
Well, it’s the boring, dull routine of it all, said somebody. I actually really hate routine and doing the same thing over and over, too. I just have never met a job that didn’t have boring, repetitive parts.
Also, just because somebody didn’t go to college does not mean they have not been influenced by what women’s studies and the liberal feminism that has been coming out of Ivy League schools for decades teach- it’s influenced our entire culture. I’m not ‘blaming college,’ but in our culture there is a strong presumption in favor of dismissing sahm as valid, real work which contributes something of value to the culture.
Being a sahm in today’s world *is* a radical, countercultural thing to do.
Other thoughts on a similar lines:
Housework is boring. Turns out other jobs are boring, too, according to a WaPo article. How to tailor *your* homemaking style to match your strengths: http://thecommonroomblog.com/2005/08/desperate-housewives-employees-2.html
Being the Stay at Home Mom isn’t always easy and delightful and every single day will not be sweetness and light- nothing is. But….http://thecommonroomblog.com/2005/08/and-about-that-stay-at-home-thing-2.html
Homemaking on purpose, or why we don’t have to look like Ozzie and Harriet:http://thecommonroomblog.com/2005/06/homemaking-on-purpose.html
encountering divinity in the everyday things of life, or living a sacramental reality:http://thecommonroomblog.com/2006/09/a-sacramental-reality.html
bread recipe, and then goes on to talk about the airy-fairy mystical wonderful ness of baking bread, or not baking bread at all, but bread is really just a metaphor for lots of other stuff;
“You see what I am saying here? Sometimes, you bake bread. Sometimes, you buy it. Some people never bake bread, and that’s okay. Some people don’t even eat bread, and that’s okay, too. Seasons of your life change.
My inner groovy hippy chick (who is a big part of me, to be honest) really does find deep satisfaction in baking bread. She really does feel that this is her way of creating truth and beauty in her home. But you may feel this way about sewing a beautiful or useful item of clothing, or weaving a rug on a loom, or polishing a piece of furniture, or planting a garden, or diapering a baby or teaching a child his letters, or putting dinner in the oven on time.
You don’t have to bake bread to be a Proverbs 31 woman.
You don’t have to bake bread to be a good mom.
You don’t have to bake bread to be a good Christian.
You don’t have to bake bread to be a good person.”
And this is one of my favorites (because half of it is quotes from others) about how mothering is a praise as plain as bread and milk; http://thecommonroomblog.com/2010/04/mothers-with-praise-plain-as-bread-and-milk.html
It’s a learning curve, and I’m not there. My housekeeping does NOT measure up to anybody’s expectations. And, again, when the babies are the youngest so it’s all you giving and training and not so much seeing the fruits of that training in a significant way, that is a really hard and challenging time