Finding contentment by redefining motherhood

Finding Contentment by Redefining Motherhood

About two years ago, I brought this blog back to life after a, well, too long unscheduled hiatus. My first post back in 2018 was about how I came to be a stay-at-home mom. Back then, I was certain I wouldn’t stay a stay-at-home mom forever, that I wouldn’t be doing anything other than documenting my journey into becoming a working mom. I was quite insistent that being at home was not going to last. But life happened and life made changes without consulting me and now I find I’m exactly where I had never wanted to be. But, perhaps, I’m actually exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Didn’t Want to be a Stay at Home Mom

I was raised by a stay-at-home mom. When I was born, she and my dad made the decision that she would be at home as they planned on having at least one more child and they didn’t trust day cares or caregivers. Being the firstborn, I got to watch my mom struggle to find her feet as a mom, got to see her days and nights, got to watch her constantly do things to take care of us and our home.

I was determined that wasn’t going to be my life.

Cooking, cleaning, running errands, picking up after messy children, listening to children scream at each other and praying there wouldn’t be any bloodshed. They weren’t things I was interested in doing. There was no way I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. There was even a point where I didn’t want to have kids. I was going to have a career. I had always been an excellent student. I was going to go somewhere; everyone knew it. I was going to go to work 5 days a week and give something back to my community.

When I met my husband, he made it clear he wanted kids. After a lot of thought, I decided that was okay with me as long as I was able to have a career, too. I breathed easier feeling he understood my wishes to not be at home with the kids, that I needed to have a career of my own.

Time and Kids Changed My Life

To this day, I still think I might have a career one day, but I currently find myself as a stay-at-home mom. I struggled and fought against it. I made plans to escape my role as a stay-at-home mom. Every single time I thought I was on the verge of breaking free, the doors slammed shut.

I left my graduate program so my husband could pursue his growing career. We had to relocate to the opposite side of the country, so there was no way I was going to be able to return to my program after my year of leave when my first was born. I left my program, leaving my dreams of becoming a psychologist in the past.

Even though I’d left behind the career I’d hoped to have, I was able to find something that fit my need to use my psychology background and work with kids. It was amazing, and I thought I could be there forever. The best part was that my husband’s work schedule allowed me to work part-time while he could be at home with our son. But I didn’t count on my husband getting another job, one that wouldn’t have the room for that. A babysitter or day care were out as our son had a speech delay and could say little beyond making a sound. We didn’t feel comfortable leaving him with someone else and leaving him with grandparents was out of the question because they made it clear we had given life to this child and it was our responsibility to raise him. So, I left my job while 4 months pregnant with our second.

For the duration of my pregnancy, I came up with a plan to do graduate school again. I started studying for the GRE all over again. I wasn’t sure how far into the future I would have to wait, but I was going to go back. I started this blog back up when my second was 8 months old. I still thought a career was in the stars for me. Until then, I was going to blog and enjoy myself and my kids.

And then my husband got another job. I tweaked my plans again. He got yet another job. I saw my plans fall apart. With every change, the logistics of going to work and putting the kids in school and day care just became more and more difficult. It became impractical. At the moment, there is no good reason for me to go back to work; it would be nothing more than self-serving.

So, I’m a Stay-at-Home Mom

I find myself as a devoted stay-at-home mother. There is absolutely no need for me to go out and work. There is no need for me to do anything but take care of the kids. After everything I had given up for him, my husband wanted to work hard so I could have the time and space to find my real place in this world. He knows what I love, and he knows that, as much as I love psychology, psychology is not my first love.

For a long time, I have been resentful about being a stay-at-home mom. I’ve felt my hopes and dreams for myself were dashed over and over until there was nothing left. I was angry about being denied something I had so desperately wanted. It wasn’t for lack of trying that I never found myself in a career. I tried so hard, made so many careful plans with spotless timelines, only to have it yanked away at the last second.

I’m a stay-at-home mom. I love it and I don’t. I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have a career. I daydream about going to work, about helping people, about chatting with colleagues, about having child-free lunches. I even daydream about just doing boring paperwork. But I’m a stay-at-home mom. The universe designed my life to be that way.

Redefining Motherhood

But maybe this is where I’m supposed to be.

Maybe I’m supposed to be a stay-at-home mom. Maybe I’m supposed to be at home taking care of the kids. Maybe they’re meant for something, or their kids are meant for something, and it’s necessary for me to be at home because I’m supposed to provide something that will be instrumental later on.

Five years later, I’m finally reaching a point where I can come to terms with where I am in life. I’m not as angry, not as resentful. Oh, it still stings, but I’m starting to accept it. I’m starting to see the blessing this might be. I’m starting to feel content as a stay-at-home mom.

I’ve had to look at motherhood differently.

Previously, I’d seen it as long, hard work of constantly having to feed, change, bathe, play with, and endlessly carry kids. I’ve seen my days look identical because changing routines and schedules was out of the question. I’ve seen never-ending chores, food that must be cooked, errands that can only fall to me, and children who don’t want to be put down for naps and bedtime.

Now I see I’m guiding the next generation. I’m guiding the people who might be someone important later on. I’m raising someone who might be a future President, might run a company, might be a top attorney, might provide something to someone else who needs it to turn their life around. What I am doing now will have an effect one day, even if I can’t fathom what it could possibly be.

See, I’m raising my children and passing along values. I’m teaching them not just how to do math and read books, but to appreciate life and how to give back to society. I’m encouraging them to find their feet, to find the things they care about, to develop their own values in a safe, understanding environment. I don’t know who my children will be one day or whose lives they might touch. But I know that what I do with my kids will have an impact on someone else and, if it’s for the better, than I am satisfied in my role as stay-at-home mom.

Motherhood is no longer full of laundry, making dinner, disciplining children, making the nth trip to Target, feeling nothing but exhaustion, endlessly picking up toys, driving to and from school, running the household.

Motherhood is now raising aware children, passing on values, teaching the things that are important in life, and raising my children to be good people. Everything I do is done with an eye on their future. I ask myself every day what kind of adult I hope they will be. I can name countless professions I wouldn’t mind them being in, but, instead, I aim for them to be good, kind, caring people.

So, I’m not thrilled about being a stay-at-home mom, but I am finding contentment. Perhaps this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I can accept that.

Drop by the Mother’s Corner for more of my parenting posts or to read about my journey into finding magic in motherhood.

8 Comments

  • Autumn

    One of my pet peeves is when people talk like only moms have to deal with the drudgery of chores, and everyone else is magically gifted Self-Cleaning Toilets That Never Smell — yeah, that’s totally not how the real world works. Even when I worked full time and lived alone, I still had a pile of dirty dishes and laundry to deal with all the time.

    • kat

      Once upon a time, teen me told her mom she wasn’t going to be a stay at home mom like her because she didn’t want to do everything she’d seen her mom do. Her mom reminded her she’d still have to cook and clean, to which she responded she was going to work hard, make lots of money, and hire people. My mom is a smart lady. She probably laughed at me when I left the room. I wish I knew more childless women who would talk more about having to do chores and run endless errands. Though maybe there’s an unspoken agreement with moms to never discuss it so that women would either be discouraged from becoming moms or encouraged to use it as excuses for letting themselves and everything else go.

  • jamiejabber

    Being a stay at home parent is definitely difficult. When I didn’t work I would feel like the walls would be closing in on me and now that I work I miss staying home. I like that you looked at being a stay at home mom differently. Great Post!

  • degreesofmaternity

    Beautifully stated, Kat! Just so you know, the work you’re doing in the blogging community is so very appreciated. You are an inspiration to so many and what you do matters. Just wanted to put that out there. And as for motherhood, I’ve often said that the best thing I’ve ever done was being a mother to the children God blessed me with. They give me so much joy and put everything into perspective in my life. So, being a mom comes with its challenges (a lot of times we’re overlooked and we have to self sacrifice), but the investment that we put into our children will pay big dividends for them and their families if we do our jobs right. As a mother, you’re holding down the best job out there.:)

    • kat

      Oh, wow, thank you so much for your kind words! You’re so right that investing in our children really pays out. We have an influence on the future through our children and how they choose to raise their children, so it makes sense to pour ourselves into them. As hard as it can be it really is wonderful to watch tiny babies bloom into beautiful adults.

  • soulsmitten2020

    Wow, I can relate to so much of this! I never envisioned being a SAHM, was very career oriented and saw no opportunity for achievement there. But having my own kids changed everything for me! I still struggle to find meaning sometimes…but I live reflecting on those deeper things about WHO we are raising and what we are teaching them. Those things have begun to have more value to me than a career. Thanks for the great post!

    • kat

      Thank you so much for reading! Kids have such an amazing ability to change one’s perspective. It isn’t always easy to come to terms with it, but raising the next generation is a really important job.

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