I have been a stay at home mom for a full year now; this will be my second school year out of my classroom. It’s beautiful and wonderful and boring and monotonous.
August is the toughest time for me. August used to be school supplies, and curriculum, and lesson plans and school clothes and connecting with coworkers and students after a long summer. Now August is weeding the garden, prepping to potty train, laundry, and last minute pool trips before Labor Day.
This August, I’m not overwhelmed, I’m not crying, I’m not sick. This August, I am actually able to take some time for myself without feeling guilty for taking time away from my son. This August, I look forward to date nights with my husband because I can relax and remember who we were before the boy instead of stressing out that I haven’t put in enough time to bond with Lincoln.
And I hate to sound like I’m complaining. Because two Augusts ago I felt sick at the idea of leaving my six month old with a sitter. Two Augusts ago, I was crying every day after school because I hadn’t seen my baby all day. Two Augusts ago, I was so overwhelmed with the idea of teaching all day and then mothering, wife-ing, and generally living that at times – I broke. And I can’t do that again while I have little people depending on me. I am not a whole person when I do too much; I tend to fracture off and crash against the people I love most.
But I do so miss teaching. I want to go back to work, but I don’t want to sacrifice raising our son and having a smooth life with my husband. This is a better choice for us, and please understand, I know this time is a gift. I know I am blessed to be able to choose to be home. I know my husband’s work ethic and intelligence allow us to have this life. And I am so grateful.
I just didn’t expect this. I never thought I would need to stay home. I didn’t even consider staying home an option until it became a requirement. And now I feel stuck at my lack of imagination. By limiting myself to the work force, I downplayed and undermined the job of staying home. Because, until I did it, I didn’t think stay at home moms were relevant. In fact, and I am so ashamed of this, until my son was born, I looked down on stay at home moms. So now, that I am at home, I tend to look down on my job. I know that isn’t rational, real, or beneficial. But all my life, I’ve looked for applause to let me know that I’m doing my job well. I am a performer and a connector by nature, and try as I may- it’s really hard to teach the toddler to clap and cheer after I serve lunch.
If I don’t have the applause, I certainly make up for it in the connections. Staying home has given me the opportunity to connect beyond my previous limitations. Of course I connect with my son. Each day, our connection is stronger and more intuitive than I could have imagined , but I am struck by the additional connections. I can take the time to see my husband and really be with him. I get so much more time with my own mother and family because I am not trying to do two full time jobs. I can actually see my friends (unless they are teachers… ). I started a play group in my neighborhood and can connect with new friends. Through this blog, I bond with people I would have never met.
I am beyond grateful. But I also have a feeling of unrest. And ours is a culture that is constantly selling “rightness”. We can find joy, relief, or calm even if things aren’t the exact way we thought they would look, but we aren’t taught that. No one says, “I’m pretty peaceful right now but I hope for more later”. And we should. Constant striving to have it all, right now is exhausting and debilitating. It’s also impossible.
I’m coming to terms with that. Unrest is okay. This unrest tells me that there is more coming for me- later. And later isn’t a dirty word; it isn’t laziness or complacency- it is just a setting that comes in the future. Presently, God is using this time to teach me things; notably, that applause is just a noise. I can clap for myself if I need to, but that’s also just sound. I can’t hear Him through all the clapping, so this silence, this quiet is necessary for me. God can speak thru unrest. I think He usually does; the trick is to go through instead of around the confusion.