For the past 13 years, my cousin Laura has been a stay-at-home mom. As her four children have grown, the emotional hurdles of motherhood have changed, she says. But the biggest challenge continues to be her relationship with her husband.
Here are more of her thoughts about motherhood, marriage and work:
Q: Do you work full-time or part-time outside the home, or are you at home full-time?
A: I am a stay-at-home mom who is rarely at home. I volunteer at church, as a worship leader for my women’s bible study, in the kids’ school library two times a month, as a tutor at an inner-city school once a week, and in the classroom as a parent volunteer once every other week (who can lead the class). I take those commitments as though they are my part-time jobs.
Q: What has contributed to your decision to either stay at home or work?
A: I could not let someone else raise my kids, as much as I wanted a career before the kids came. Both my husband and I wanted me to be the one who watched them, and was there for them as they grew. I could not have let them go to day care, and we were blessed enough financially that we did not need to do it.
Q: What do you think is easier emotionally–working outside the home, or being at home with your child(ren)?
A: Both are hard for different reasons.
Working outside the home: I see many of my working friends have the two same issues. Lots of guilt over not being there, and no time to themselves for anything personally advancing, or relaxing, or fun, and they have no friends because they have no time for friends. They have their work friends, and maybe one or two others they can try to see from time to time — but really, no life outside working, and raising their kids.
Being at home: There is little to no support from the working world, and little validation from most [about staying home] as a “good” choice. [Some] working moms are jealous of you, and you are seen as a spoiled brat who does not know how “good” she has it. Your kids are happy to have you there, though. And I have learned to be OK with what I chose. Although the longer I am home, the more I do not miss the working world … and I feel I may not be able to re-enter the working world, at least [not] as easily.
Q: If you are at home with your child(ren) full-time–or if you were for any length of time–what emotional challenges do/did you face?
A: As a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), you don’t have any other things, besides church and school, and maybe some community things to do.
As an employee, you do have something that gives you purpose beyond just your relationships. As a SAHM, all you really have are your relationships–with your kids, with your spouse, with your family, and your friends and community. They become your life-blood–next to God, that is. I have come to depend on the Lord for my validation, for my emotional needs, and I look to him to guide me as far as what I do with the time I have.
Time is the biggest blessing of being a SAHM, and learning to use it wisely is always a challenge. Do I sit around talking to people and watching television, or am I using it as though it is my job, balancing time with the kids and cleaning, and other day-to-day tasks?
Q: Name two or three of the biggest emotional hurdles you’ve faced since becoming a mom. Have they been related to your identity? Work? Relationship with your husband?
A: I suppose the biggest has been with how my relationship with my hubby has changed. Because I don’t work, he puts most, if not all, house responsibilities on me. I tend to get more easily resentful towards him and more easily angered at him because he does not really do that much to help me once he’s home. Even putting [the kids] to bed. But it does ebb and flow during the different stages. When they were babies, I wanted him home, and felt that between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., I would emotionally melt down. I had had it for the day — almost every day.
As [the kids] get older, I make them help out around the house more, or they play with each other more, and they need me around less and less. But I have been thinking about how much fighting we do now because we differ on how to treat or what to do with the children, mainly in regards to allowing or not allowing them to do things. We see things from different perspectives. I was raised with no limits, no boundaries, and he was raised with a ‘do what I say right now or else’ mentality. So I find him to be too harsh with the kids, and he finds me to be too lenient, which does cause a ton of emotional hurdles for us lately.