Nearly two years ago I made the decision to become a full time stay at home mom. It was the most intuitive decision I ever made and even though I was leaving behind a good paying job and would have to put my student loans (you wouldn’t believe the amount) into deferment for the time being, it really made me feel incredible to be able to dedicate all of my time to parenting.
Now that my daughter is almost two, we’ve really hit our stride. I’ve made friends with other stay home parents and we plan times to play. We visit the museum bi-weekly, as well as the park, library, neighborhood Starbucks etc. And I finally feel like I’ve found my self again after a long time searching.
It wasn’t always so easy though. I went from being a hard working career woman with a daily schedule full of meetings and activities, to someone with virtually no commitments other than the small infant I was caring for. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself those first months during the transition. I loved being home, but I felt inadequate and lonely. I felt like I went from being Miranda, a woman with hobbies and interests, to just any old, regular mom. I felt like the stereotype. I didn’t feel as beautiful or interesting. I even struggled with the hostility of some of my working friends who’d ask, “don’t you worry your husband will resent you for not working?”
It wasn’t so dire I was actually depressed, or considering going back to work, but I really wish someone would have offered me some advice or support early on. Working moms are wonderful, they do it all, but if you are a stay at home mom for the first time, I’d like to tell you that you are doing the most important job in the world. The first year is so hard because you are tired and adjusting to a new life, and it can be difficult to find fun things to do with a young baby, but it also goes so fast. It is such a gift to be near your child on a daily basis. Enjoy the smell of their knees; snuggle on the couch without feeling like you need to be doing something else. Take walks through the neighborhood with your baby in a carrier and point out the smallest details of the changing seasons. Love yourself for what you are doing and for who you have become (because you are new and powerful).
Nowadays I don’t worry that much about cleaning the house every day. Stuff like that makes the days seem monotonous. Of course I keep our house clean, but I don’t fret over small messes or feel the need to constantly control the order of the house. I try to find a way to get out, no matter what, every single day. Sometimes that just means a walk, but whatever it is, it helps break up the day and provides a little spontaneity and adventure.
But you know what helps the most? It’s this feeling that I am not alone, and that all over the world there are mothers caring for their children and delighting in the smallest, yet richest of pleasures. It’s important we’re able to affiliate in order to feel a sense of belonging. I’m thankful for the women in my life that helped point out what a challenging, beautiful job being a full time mother could be.
And I’m so grateful to my daughter for the opportunity she’s provided me to experience firsthand the joy that is just being. A mother. Just that.