I stay home with my kids. Because I think it is the best thing that I can do for them. And because I did not want to miss a thing as they grew up and started crawling, walking, talking. Making the decision to be a stay-at-home mom was difficult, because it meant giving up that life outside of the home and a second income. But it is the best decision I have ever made. Not because it is an easy job--in fact, it is the hardest job in the world. Well, in my humble opinion. So I find it comical that people think it must be wonderful to be home all the time. You know, with all that "down time" that I have to do what I want around the house. This is a tribute to all of you stay-at-home moms who know exactly what I am talking about...
I was due April 22, 2004 with Coulby. I was huge by the end of my pregnancy with him...turns out he was a big boy, especially for my 5'4" frame. So I looked huge and felt extremely uncomfortable and was ready to have the baby and move on. Not that I did not love being pregnant, because I actually did, but by the end I had, had it. Plus I had started dilating and was 100% effaced by mid-March, so I thought Coulby was going to make his grand entrance much sooner than my due date. He did not. He was born April 25, 2004. And that is when everything as I knew it changed. Drastically. Not just bringing-a-new-baby-home change, but bringing a new baby WITH a metabolic disorder into our lives. and it was then that I knew I had made the right choice to stay at home with Coulby. I would never have trusted anyone to meet the very specific needs that Coulby has. I would have been a nervous wreck. I was anyway! So this started my journey into stay-at-home motherhood.
That first year threatened to break me--my spirit, my sanity, my sense of self, my patience...you name it! Metabolic disorder aside, I went from being an active working woman with a second part-time job while working on my Master's degree, to being a mom. At home. Alone with an infant. Very little socialization. Very little time for me. Very little sleep. Often times it was too much of a hassle to try to go out anywhere. You know, packing up the bottle bag, the diaper bag, loading the baby into the car seat, and carrying all of these things to the car at the same time! (On a good note, this taught me how to carry all of my groceries into the house in ONE trip!) Coulby was a pretty good baby, but he had his moments! And those were the days that my husband would come home from work and would not even have made it to the door before I was handing him a crying baby, as I was crying. Oh, and when I really needed Coulby to nap, so I could get something done or take a nap myself, those were the days when he would hit the crib and scream in protest. I would pick him up again, calm him, go to lay him back in the crib, and the screaming would start again. And so it went: pick up, calm, lay down, screaming baby, repeat. On top of everything else, Coulby did have several hospitalizations in his first year, and we were always worried about him and keeping him healthy. I swore I would not make it through that first year. But I did. And by February 2006, I must have forgotten about all of the stuff with Coulby, because I was pregnant again!
Isn't it funny how we have a baby and then all of that infancy stuff disappears from our minds (sleep deprivation and all of its effects, early mornings, late nights, spit up, the bewitching hours, teething, diapers, drool...) so we can have another baby? I think if people really remembered all of the difficult things about having a baby, they would not go on to have any more children. I think it is the good things, like all of the firsts, and the toothless smiles, and the happy baby giggles, that we remember the most. Because the good things far outweigh the difficult. They make it worth it.
Caroline was due on November 1, 2006, and arrived October 29, 2006. I was amazed at how easy it was to bring her home. We got to experience all of the new baby stuff that we missed out on having Coulby and all of his medical issues. Plus Caroline was like a little dream baby. Quiet, content, just easy. And I had settled in to being a stay-at-home mom, too. I think that made the biggest difference in bringing her home. Coulby had to suffer all of my insecurities of being a new parent, as well as my adjustment to being home.
And now, I absolutely love being a stay-at-home mom. It is the hardest job in the world. Every day is new and unscripted. The day revolves around the kids and their moods and their needs, and some are not always fun. Nap times still do not always go smoothly, and I suck it up and say, "oh well," to any quiet time to myself. I spend much of my days chasing after Coulby to get him to drink formula, or rescuing the cat from the attacking children, or cleaning up Caroline's pencil wall art. There are toys everywhere, cleverly hidden in baskets that get dumped upside down, spilling all of the contents out. I pick up those toys about five times a day...at least. I change poopy diapers (and sometimes they are the ones that make my eyes water), remind Coulby to use the potty before we leave the house (and he STILL has to go right when we get in the car or to a store!), try to squeeze time in to do mountainous piles of laundry, and put the "time-out" chair into use when my little boy pushes the limits (making me long for the days when all he could do was scream). I think in mommy terms now, and have accepted the "mommy brain" as part of the territory. I always say that I will be smart again...some day. I do not get out much and I have not had a "date" with my husband in forever, and i often wonder if I will know myself anymore by the time the kids are both in school all day every day.
But I also laugh. I laugh at my kids and the funny things they come up with. I laugh when Coulby makes up his own songs, or Caroline starts dancing to those songs. And even when she breaks open eggs on our counter or pours salt all over the table or pepper on my bagel and in my coffee. What else can you do but laugh? These kids are funny. They are not wallflowers that say "Yes, ma'am," or sit with their hands folded in their laps, never breaking a rule. They live!
My husband has the glamorous job (or so many people think), so a lot of time when asked what both of us do, I feel the limelight bypass me. And that is okay. Because I know what I do as a mom, and I know how difficult and wonderful and frustrating and fun it can be! Moms make the world go 'round, especially those brave enough to be stay-at-home moms. I applaud you all!!