Fifteen years. I’ve been at this SAHM gig for 15 whole years now. How is that even possible?
Well, I’ll tell you how. Time flies, man. Time flies.
I became a mom, and therefore a working mom, while I was an elementary school teacher in January 2002. Two years later, my amazing husband finished his graduate studies and got a “real job.” While he started his career in the exciting world of optical engineering at the start of 2004, I joked that I was retiring and moving to Florida…at the ripe old age of 26.
In reality, though, I was embarking on the most amazing adventure. Every day was vastly different in its monotony. My one work associate would regularly fall asleep on the job and make messes that would be on me to clean up. I’d gain new underlings on a fairly regular basis, but never actually clear a taxable paycheck.
It was what I had waited my whole life for.
To listen to today’s post… –>
Needless to say, I’ve learned a thing or two.
So, fast forward a decade and a half. Has being a SAHM been everything I had dreamed it would be? Absolutely. Has it been the stuff of nightmares, too? You bet your sweet bippy it has!
See, as the oldest of four kids and one of the first in a very long line of cousins, I thought I knew tons about baby care. And I was a trained and experienced teacher, for goodness sake, so obviously I knew everything important about child development. I was prepared, you see. Like St. Joan of Arc said, “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”
And then, time passed and I began to realize just how much I didn’t know. I questioned everything I thought I knew, everything I knew I didn’t know, and even my choice to stay home.
Time is an amazing teacher, though, and God is good. Eventually, I fell into a rhythm and got my feet underneath me. And, well, you could say I’ve learned a thing or two. From my experiences, certainly, but from my kids, as well. And, as I’ve never quite outgrown that teacher part of me, I want to share a few of these things with you. I don’t claim to know everything, friends. Far from it. But these are things I know for sure.
Motherhood in General
- SAHMs rarely stay home. If there was ever a misleading job title, this would be it. When your kids are little, there are playgroups and doctor appointments, park outings and trips to the grocery store. When they’re older, you spend half your life in drop-off or pick-up lines and running them to and from every practice under the sun. You will physically long for days where you can just stay home for once.
- Everything is a phase. Everything. You hear that platitude a lot when the kids are going through a particularly rough time. And it’s absolutely true! But something that nobody likes to dwell on is that the good times are phases, too. That sweet, squishy baby will turn into a snot-nosed pubescent someday and there’s no denying it. That snot-nosed pubescent, though, won’t be that way forever, either. You’ve just gotta go with the flow.
- What works for one kid won’t necessarily work for another one. Your children are all 100% their own individual souls. They have their own love languages, temperaments, likes and dislikes. Don’t assume that what worked amazingly well for one child will automatically work for another. Then again, don’t assume that what didn’t work for one won’t work for another.
- Being fair doesn’t mean treating your kids the same. It means giving each one what they need. Your kids will balk at this one, but I promise it is 100% true. For more explanation, take another look at item #3.
- You are not here to be your child’s friend. You are their mother. Contrary to current popular opinion, friendship with your kids is not the be all, end all. You can have a great time together, enjoy each other’s company, and laugh and joke all the livelong day. But when push comes to shove, you need to be their mother, not their friend. It is your God-given vocation. Don’t abandon it to popular opinion.
Ages and Stages
- Potty-training may take forever, but it will happen. Take it from someone whose oldest child was still in pull-ups at 3 1/2. It will happen. You will stoop to subterfuge, bribery, and all manner of tricks. They will resist with every fiber of their little beings. But it will happen! (Note: This, of course, presumes there are no medical needs that might impact potty-training.)
- Adolescents don’t realize when they start to smell bad. It’s up to you to provide the deodorant. True story. My son got in the car one day after school and I immediately had to open all the windows and the sunroof and still not breathe in his general direction for the 5 minutes it took to get home. Why, you ask? He had PE that day. And don’t fool yourselves thinking girls will smell better. They won’t.
- Age 12 is downright rotten for most boys. Hormones + changes in brain chemistry + super-fast physical growth = holy angry moodiness, Batman! But, just to make you feel better, go back up and reread how everything is a phase, OK?
- Chores are good for kids of all ages. Hear me when I say this: It is good for your kid to learn to load the dishwasher, even if it makes you physically ill to see how they did it. They need to learn to fold the laundry, even if how they do it makes you cringe. By giving them chores, you are teaching them invaluable lessons about responsibility, family life, and self-reliance.
- Little kids are physically trying. Teenagers are trying in every other way imaginable. You’ve heard the saying “little kids, little problems…big kids, big problems?” Well, I won’t go so far as that. Little kid problems like sleeping and feeding and keeping the little buggers alive are enormous!! But then those little kids become big kids that become teenagers that drive will leave for college soon. Yeah. It’s trying, alright.
Little Secrets of the Trade
- If a kid is hungry, feed it. If a kid says it isn’t hungry, believe it. One day, you may have a very hungry caterpillar on your hands and the next day, that little bug is on a hunger strike. Go with the flow. Kids have an uncanny knack for knowing when they’re hungry or not. It’s just up to you to help them make the smartest choices possible (even if that means chicken nuggets and goldfish for the umpteenth day in a row.)
- Sometimes, the best thing to do for you kid is to just walk away. You give your kids timeouts sometimes, right? Well, you might need to give yourself one from time to time, too. Say a prayer, count to 10, scream into your pillow, whatever it takes. The situation will only be the better for it.
- You will have a favorite kid. Who that is will change practically by the minute. And it’s OK! And, I’ll go one step further. It might even be OK to let them know who that favorite is! Healthy competition is good, don’t ya know?!
- Kids will get sick at the absolute worse times. Before vacation, on vacation, the day of that salon appointment you’ve been waiting for, Christmas Eve…you name it, my kid has gotten sick then. God bless friends and family who are willing to help you out when that happens! And if it happens to someone you know and love, then you be the chicken soup delivery service. It’s how we get through.
- God made kids cute so we wouldn’t kill them. Yeah. I said it. And if you’ve ever snuck in to watch your whirling dervish of a child sleep peacefully in their bed at night, you know exactly what I mean.
My Motherhood Practices in a Nutshell
So, there you have it, friends…the Cliffs Notes version of Beth’s Guide to Mom-dom. Of course, it’s not everything being a SAHM has taught me. I’ve learned a lot about myself, too. But, as they say, that’s another post for another time.