When I was younger I had dreams! Big dreams (and I still do). I wanted to be a teacher, a Lawyer, a medic, or something in the RAF (to name a few), and I swapped and changed each new term at school with ideas of what I one day might become “When I grow up”. But ultimately I always knew (and was firm in the dream of knowing) that one day I wanted to get married and have a family. I wanted to be a Mother.
I have said several times, and those who know me know, that I dreamed of being the mum in the “mini van” with at least 6 kids. I dreamed of having a big family and I guess that that immediately meant that I dreamed of being at home and raising that family. But with that dream I never imagined (not that I could have) what it would feel like to postpone other opportunities to make that dream my reality. I never realised how much I would need to change in myself and learn to be the mother I had seen in my future. I never realised how relentless, trying and intense the role of mother would be for me, or even how hard it would be to get all of those little ones I had imagined raising. I never thought I would face child loss or even feel on some days no value in what I was doing! I hoped I would be a mother to many, but underestimated what that meant to me!
Being a SAHM
I am a mother to 4 children and at 33 I still kinda want a couple more even though it’s nuts! We started our family within a few months of being married (because that’s what felt right for us), and just less than 12 months before our first Anniversary (3 days before to be exact) Ethan was born, and I was a mother!
Being a first time mum I felt incredibly overwhelmed and rarely good enough at what I was doing, I adored him, and did my best, but It seemed to magnify my low self esteem and short comings! Having an emergency C-section, breastfeeding issues and then PND probably didn’t help any of this, but despite these initial struggles, in time (and with some therapy) I grew in confidence and 20 months later we had Megan! 19 Months later I was cooking little Poppy, who was then sadly diagnosed with CHD and Edwards syndrome, and subsequently still born at term. Grief plagued us all, and I was grateful to be able to be at home… whilst it was hard having 2 little ones and such a massive loss, and messy life, there was never any pressure for me to have to return to work. In time the fog lifted and we returned to a new normal – I was more broken and bruised but I was mostly fun mum again. Our family growth was halted for a while, but with time (22 Months after her passing) we welcomed Baby Alice.
7 Years on from becoming a mum and choosing to stay at home, I find my life to be a complete and utter mix bag of emotions. Some days I relish in all I do and feel so happy to have these days of freedom over my time, days to watch them grow and enjoy raising them. Days where I can pretty much insert whatever takes our fancy and go on adventures, play, read, and learn together. I enjoy being with my kids very much and catching every milestone and emotion of theirs has been a huge blessing. I love to see their excitement at the school gates every day I am there to collect them. I love our adventures and the opportunities to see friends and family, and I love to play, build dens and forts, make things, watch films and snuggle…yes on some days I look at our life and think I am truly 100% living the dream. I am so happy to be a stay at home mum that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else doing anything else. This is my life and its great.
But then there are the days when I feel no fulfilment in at all. I look at my life or I am asked what I do and all I can answer is “I am JUST a mum” and feel a little unsuccessful in my life. Perhaps it’s because our society doesn’t value motherhood and bigger families so much these days. Perhaps it’s because I lack in confidence to own what I do and be okay with it, but either way, it’s on these days that I question if I am good enough!
There are days that are emotional for me – I am so pushed to my limit and often plagued with tiredness or grief that I feel like I can’t possibly be doing any good! These are the days that aren’t fun and games, or filled with adventures. They are days I don’t get dressed or am unable to do a whole lot in our home. These are the days of real life – the ones that seem to be so mundane, a little lonely and completely exhausting and relentless. They are the days that I wish I had more in life to my name and under my belt than just the label of motherhood. It’s those days, when I’ve lost my temper, when my house is in chaos, when the kids do my head in and I cry or feel like I am not enough, I look at myself and feel like I am failing as Mother and therefore at life. This is my life, so If I aren’t doing well at it, what else is there? It leads me to wonder if I am missing out on who I might have been if I hadn’t have given up on other pursuits, and simply put I forget who I am and what great joy and fulfilment there is in being a stay at home mum. I fail to see the positives and greatness because of a negative day, thought or defeating moment!
But the truth is (and what I am working on believing more deeply within myself) is that I am in fact right where I am meant to be. I am living the dream I dreamed, and I am a huge success! I hold them in my arms, have those sticky kisses and watch them play or see them trying to master new skills… I look upon their precious little faces and see how blessed I am. I remember that though this job/role/life plan at times takes it’s toll, and just because I find it a challenge and struggle some days, it doesn’t disregard all of the days we laugh, sing, dance and smile together. It doesn’t erase the days I am winning and feel like greatness for giving them life and helping them live it! And just because there are no qualifications and recognition attached to it, it certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t found success in my life. Far from it, I have grown 4 humans, I am raising the next generation, and I assure you – that is no small job!
I keep a (fairly) clean home and feed them – yes sometimes that’s from Subway, or McDonalds, but mostly its well planned, healthy, homemade food I buy, prepare and cook myself, and I love that! I play with them, and we go on lots of adventures. I read to and with them and we travel off to far away places in our imaginations. I comfort them when they are sad, correct them when they make a mistake, and teach them about the world around them. I help them problem solve, be confident and to believe in God. I teach them forgiveness, love and about being kind. I teach them to pray, to have goals, to be helpful, and I keep them clean and safe. I sing to them (even though they don’t always appreciate it) and I laugh with them daily.
I am a stay at home mum, and they are my life – my daily work, my challenges and ultimately my source of joy and success!
The choice to stay at Home
Choosing to stay at home isn’t any easy choice! Some days it is because I really do love it, but then some days it isn’t at all. I know for some that this isn’t even an option, and whilst for us this has meant great sacrifice, and some days I feel undervalued, I could never regret the choice to be at home and mother my kids full time. This post isn’t about me boasting of this privilege, and saying look at what I do, because some days (with finances and kids behaviours) it feels far from anything to be proud of, rather I guess I wanted to share with you the battles I feel within myself being a stay at home mum, and my journey of placing value on what I do, and how I
survive get through each day.
I am often way too tough on myself and expect so much. I am an ambitious, passionate and imaginative person, which is brilliant as I always have goals and ideas, but these ideas and goals often lead to me feeling like I always want to be more and never feeling enough in the here and now. There are days when “Mary” is swallowed up in “mummy” and I cannot see a life outside of Nappies, laundry piles, dishes, and whining kids. It’s only since losing Poppy, and gaining Alice, that I have seen a huge need for self care. Its recognising that I need to have ambition and hobbies still to be a better, more balanced mother, but also it has taught me that I need to relax more and not put so much pressure on myself – just do my best in any given moment.
Nathan and I never sat down when we started our family and officially said “You will work, and I will stay home”! But these are the traditional roles we have fallen into. Not by accident, as we were both raised LDS this is something that we both saw and felt was important. Like I say it has required a heck of a lot of sacrifice, and it has meant that on some days I feel a little less than fulfilled, we have less money, but it works and I (mostly) love our life together.
I sometimes ask “Why continue to stay at home, if you find it so hard”, and ultimately it comes down to the fact that I feel I am doing the right thing by being at home with my kids full time and I mostly do love it. I feel no-one can replace “Mummy” and I am what my children need! It’s always been my dream to do this, and sometimes yes sometimes I need a good slap and reminding of that, but It’s okay that I find it hard, or feel inadequate – that’s life. And just because there are those hard “pull your hair out” days and seasons where I feel far from joyous about what I am doing, I choose each day to try again to be a better mother. I make the choice to stay at home and be there for them, and raise them the very best I can in a very troubled world!
We are almost done (in Nathan’s opinion “done” ) having our family, and I can now see that there is so much life ahead for me after kids. It’s strange because whilst I have a million things I want to do that will all make me feel a more accomplished and successful individual (and the stuff I have felt over the years I possibly missed out on), none are at the moment as great as raising our family. I wish on some days I had more self confidence to be content as a Stay at home mum, to always see the good and know I am in the right place and doing well in my life, but despite the negative, strenuous days of doubt, deep down I know that these are my little treasures and I am not “Just” a mum, but I am their mum and doing a great work.
It’s a work that’s incredibly hard and I rely on Nathan, friends, family and ultimately God to help me do a good job of it. I pray every morning for the strength and ability to get through the day, to enjoy it and be what they need. And whilst some day’s I lose my temper, or I cry about being a rubbish mum…. whilst I whine about how tired I always am and how stretched I feel, whilst I at times want more and to be be more and can’t possibly be succeeding in my life, I do my best time and time again and I realise now that that makes me (and all of us mummy’s) great and successful in what we are doing!
Motherhood isn’t what I imagined, it’s far more, and makes me far more than any other job would!