Originally posted October 1, 2012.
I have been a stay-at-home mother for almost eight years. Typing this just now it’s hard for me to even believe it’s been that long. This job is without a doubt the most rewarding, beautiful, fun experience of my life. But, I have a confession to make.
This is lonely work.
Now, I know that you may wonder how this is so. After all, aren’t we professional mothers always talking about (complaining about) how we never have a moment to ourselves? How many Facebook funnies have featured a mom’s desire to just go to the toilet alone? It’s true. I am very, very rarely alone. I’m surrounded by bubbling life, laughter, and slight chaos at all hours of the day and night. Yet, I’m still lonely.
Along with all the fun, all the sweetness and the unforgettably precious moments, there is lots of frustration. Lots of concern, debating in my own mind how best to care for and train these little humans. Lots of messes. Lots of wonder-if-I’ll-have -a-chance-to-brush-my-teeth-before-noon times. Lots of trying hard to look good for my husband when he comes home for lunch, all the while knowing that the extra pounds, the unwashed hair, and the spit up stains can’t really compete with women he has probably interacted with during the course of his workday. And there’s worry that I’m not doing enough. Enough for the kids. Enough for my husband. Enough volunteering at school or at church. Frankly, while all of this is swirling in my heart and mind I feel that I’m barely keeping my head above water as it is.
And then there’s the internet. Oh, Pinterest. Oh, Facebook! How can so many stay-at-home mothers manage to make after school snacks in special shapes that their kids will love? How do they have craft time with their preschoolers while the older kids are at school? How do they decorate and redecorate, write wonderful blogs, keep up with fashion, always have their kids looking like a million bucks? How do they wow their husbands with their talents and abilities? It’s enough to send an average mother like me into a tailspin.
When I can’t even keep up with my laundry.
When I never really learned to cook.
When my house is almost never company ready.
When my biggest concern of the day really and truly is whether the baby has pooped.
And then the day comes to a close. The kids are in bed and I try to think of one interesting thing to discuss with my husband. I try to tell him about something cute the kids did. But, it was really a you-had-to-be-there kind of moment. I talk about something I saw on Facebook. I talk about an idea I have for redoing a piece of furniture in our house that I’ll never redo. And then I’m officially out of conversation. So, I ask him questions and try to get some details about his day out in the world. And I clean up the kitchen and restart that load of laundry that I already washed twice before getting it in the dryer.
There are no promotions to shoot for.
There is no feedback on how I’m doing.
And, oh yeah, there is no paycheck.
Yet, I’m happy. Yes, really and truly, and I know without a doubt that I am in the middle of God’s will even while I’m in the middle of the chaos, the loneliness, the jokes about soap operas and bons bons. This life, this Motherhood Experiment (my poor guinea pig children), this is my calling. And, even when I’m not that good at it, even when I make mistakes and burn dinner and forget about a spelling test and let my kids watch too much TV, I am still their favorite mother. Imagine that.
So, I persevere. Not every moment of full time mothering is ideal. But, every moment is important. The next time you consider making a joke about how easy stay-at-home mothers have it, consider the lonely hours. There are many. But, these sweet little lives are worth every minute.
Oh my word! Yes! Exactly my thoughts…!
Thanks for reading and for understanding, Megan!
Thank you for blogging your thoughts. Please, be encouraged that even if Your readers don’t comment, they DO read and have a mental “thank you”.
Touched my heart… I’m a mother of seven… Tired most of the time, yet so content and blessed and happy. Thank you Jesus!
Thank you so much, Mariya!
Love this! I remember the horrible loneliness of young motherhood VERY well. And the internet was just getting started back then! I remember how desperately I looked forward to my online forum, which I discovered when my second child was still fairly young. It’s an isolating world, motherhood is, but people like you make it less so! I still get lonely,I confess, as a 50 year old mom whose homeschooling years are winding down. but there are many more options than there used to be. Hang in there, girl! It’s incredible how quickly the years have gone…especially when some of those early days lasted simply FOREVER! 🙂 It is all so worth it, though. I have enjoyed being with my kids more than I can possibly say, and I still have more fun with my family than anyone else!
Me, too, dayuntoday! My family is my favorite. 🙂
That really touches on my feelings today. Isolated, simultaneously overwhelmed and over stimulated, without promotion opportunities or anything interesting to say to anyone with a secondary education. So much to do without the feeling that I’m ever doing enough. Are bean and cheese burritos as valid as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch?
I feel you, londryfairy! And, bean and cheese burritos are probably better than pb&j! 🙂
So very very true! You’re my favorite 🙂
🙂 Thank you, MM!!
Love this 🙂 My mother is a stay at home mom. She is the hardest working woman I know. She never stopped between cleaning, cooking, and kissing boo boos. I’m now newly married and I miss her so much (and see her once or twice a week and call frequently!) I couldn’t live without her! She is one of my biggest supporters. Growing up she always believed in me and my dreams. And guess what, I graduate from nursing school this weekend! My dream is coming true and I couldn’t have done it without all of her love and support. I think being a stay at home mom is one of the most amazing rewarding jobs (and it means more to your children than you can ever imagine. The fact that she sacrificed herself and her time each every day for me and my sister. She is my hero!)
P.S. I wanted to grow up to be just like her, and it’s crazy how much I am 🙂
Thankful Daughter, I hope your mom sees this comment! It will mean the world to her. Thank you so much for this encouragement from a daughter’s perspective!
I was a stay-at-home mom for 11 years. And it’s VERY hard when you have no ‘adult’ contact. I got involved in bible studies, moms day out, I went to garage sales once a week, just to be ‘out’. It really does help. I read the book “No More Lone Ranger Moms” and it really changed my perspective. Of course it’s worth it, but you have to take care of yourself too!
I agree, Pam, it’s essential to be proactive about getting yourself out and about. This blog has also helped me so much because it gives me a little more contact with the outside world.
I wrestle with those same feelings quite regularly. Thank you for putting this into words. It’s encouraging to know I am not alone. I felt like I was sitting across the table from you with a cup of coffee as you poured out your heart.
It helps me to know I’m not the only one, too, Christy! Thank you so much for your comment!
You wrote my heart out. It’s a everyday struggle with these thoughts. God is helping me everyday to fight these thoughts and stay contented and happy. Thank you so much for putting it in writing. You are indeed sharing your thoughts out. I been planning to write blog for 3 years now. Didn’t happen sofar. I am a stay at home mother with a daughter who is 2 years old. Enjoying every moment with her.
I understand, Betty! It’s a high calling, but it’s not easy. I’m glad you’re consciously trying to enjoy every moment of your life with your little girl!