Saturday, March 5, 2011

Where Two Roads Meet

I think that I am about to embark on a new journey.  Scratch that.  It's not completely new.  I've tried this journey once before.  It didn't go well--I had to turn back.  But I'm considering  trying it again.  It's not that big a deal.  People take this route every day.  Most are fairly successful at it.  Some even enjoy it!  So I am going to push off and start down this new path, and see what happens.

I think I am going to be a stay at home mom.

Some of you are laughing.  You do it everyday!  You don't see what the big deal is.  Others are laughing because you already get it, before I even say another word.  Whatever.  I'm not laughing.  I'm scared out of my mind.

You see, I've tried the stay-at-home mom thing.  I felt that it was what was expected of me.  I'm from a religious background where the unspoken expectation is for moms to stay home and raise the children while dads earn a living.  My mom did it.  She never worked until her last child went to first grade.  Then my mom got a job driving a school bus, just so she could be home when we were home.  She had summers off and all our school holidays.  I always "knew" that I would grow up, get married, have kids, and stay home and raise them.  Just like all the mothers I knew.

So when my daughter was born, I did it.  I quit my  job teaching preschool to stay home and manage a household and raise my daughter.  And I hated it.  I mean, sure, I loved being able to see my daughter grow and learn new skills, and being able to hold her and love on her.  But I was miserable.  There were all these sensory issues, which I had no clue what to do with.  There was the constant crying, which usually led to me crying right along with her.  I didn't know where to go for help, so I just stayed home and tried to do the best that I could.  But I became really depressed.  I was lonely, exhausted, and unfulfilled.  I felt like a complete failure.  I couldn't even do the basic mother's duty of taking care of her own child!  And even worse, I didn't want to.

After a lot of soul-searching and attempting to overcome much, MUCH mother's guilt, I went back to work.  My old job (at a day care center) was thrilled to have me back, and allowed me to be the teacher in Squirrel's classroom, so it really was the best outcome for both of us.  I continued to work with her class until Munchkin was born, when I moved into the Infant room and cared for him at work as well.

And I have never looked back at that old road.  I gladly embrace my role as a working mother, and I don't allow myself to feel any guilt about it.  I truly believe there is no such thing as "the right thing to do" when it comes to motherhood--there is only what is right for you.  And working outside the home is definitely what's right for me.

And yet...

I've reached a fork in my journey.  A place where What's Right For Me no longer shares the same road as What's Right For My Kids.  At some point this year, these roads split back off onto their own paths.  Now they are intersecting, and I must choose which one to follow.  And so I am switching paths.  I am planning to take the summer off of work to stay home with my children.  I'll return to work when they go back to school in the fall.  And, like I said, I am scared.

The fears keep me up at night:  What if I can't do it?  What if they drive me absolutely batty?  I'm not the most patient person in the world with them (which is ironic, since I teach Kindergarten and have no problem being patient with other people's children!)  Sometimes I think my own kids bring out the worst in me.  Especially my daughter--we are carbon copies of each other and butt heads continuously.

What if I get depressed again?  (It's an ongoing battle for me.)  What if I just can't handle the stress of it?  And what about the financial burden it's going to put on us?  What if we can't pay our bills, or afford the kids' therapies?  What if their sensory needs are more than I can handle?  What if I can't offer them the structure and routines they need? What if my best efforts just aren't good enough, and they regress or start losing skills they've learned this year?   What if...what if...

Do you see why this journey terrifies me?  The logical part of my brain tells me to quit worrying.  But most of the time, that part doesn't speak loudly enough to drown out the emotional part.

And yet, I'm excited too.  It would be so nice to take them on field trips, and go to the beach, and teach them to swim, and have picnics in the park.  And I'm even excited to have time to take care of my house!  Maybe it'll be clean for more than a day once in awhile.  Maybe I'll even have time to finish painting (six years after starting).  And cleaning up the jungle of a yard that we inherited from the previous owners and haven't touched in the six years we've lived here.  I can even get the kids to help!

So here I am, about to set out, with anticipation and much trepidation.  There is still a hurdle to overcome if this is going to happen--and it's a big one.  More like BRIDGE OUT AHEAD than BUMP IN THE ROAD.  But I feel this is where God is leading me, so this is where I am mentally preparing to go.  Thank God I have a few months before I travel this road!  I think I'm going to need all that time to prepare.  I'd love any advice you can give me, especially from those of you already on that road.  That's the part of this journey I am most excited about, I think--meeting others on the same path.  This time I know I'm not alone!


  1. What if? You call me, as I'm planning to spend some time at home with my kids for the first time in many years!


  2. You'll probably find that you love it in small increments, but summer is about all that I can take. Small doses!