I have been trying to craft this post for what feels like forever, but it wasn't until something my friend said to me at a dinner last night that I finally got the right angle. There were four of us: three moms, two of us stay at home moms, one home now after just having a baby a few weeks ago. The forth is recently married, without children, but thinking about having them in the near future. The topic of being a stay at home mom came up, and my friend without children said something along the lines of (not a direct quote I remind you, as I know these friends are reading this :) "I can't imagine being a stay at home mom. What do you do all day? It seems so boring..."
For some reason I felt myself immediately become defensive. Now I know for a fact she didn't mean any offense by saying what she said, but as a stay at home mom I felt like I needed to defend my "job." I have been home with Marlo since she was born, and boring is the last word in the world I would use to describe this last year. Challenging? Yes. Rewarding? Yes. Exhausting? Yes. Incredible? Yes.
Boring? Hell to the No.
Yes, there are those days when I am sick of building towers out of blocks (just to have her knock my masterpiece down right away). There have been many times where I have wanted to trade places with my husband and be surrounded by adults all day, thinking adult thoughts, having adult conversations - most of which have been when I am covered in throw up and I have sweet potatoes mashed into my hair. But then I clean myself up and realize how lucky I am to actually be able to take part in every aspect of my daughter's life. When I call my husband to tell him about something Marlo did (which is about 5 times a day) I am so thankful that it is me that gets to make those calls, and that I am not the one that is missing out on all the amazing things this little creature does every day.
I know that staying home with your kids is not for everyone, and I totally respect that. You have to do what will make you happy in life...what will keep you sane. Now I was working for myself before I had Marlo, so I didn't have an office to go back to, and will hopefully be able to do some of the work I was doing before again in the future, so it isn't like I decided not to go back to work in the first place (just to clear this up). But, my husband and I decided way before we had kids that we wouldn't be paying for childcare, and I would be staying at home to raise Marlo. This is what made us the happiest, and was the best for our family overall...and I know this cannot be said for a lot of people, and again, respect!
But as you SAHMs at there know, our lives are anything but boring. And there are a few things that I think are key to keeping it that way are:
1. Get out of the house every day. If I have to be in the house all day with Marlo, I go a little stir crazy, so I make it a point to get out every single day. Whether it is on a play date, to the grocery store, on a walk through the mall or to the doctors - get out of the house!
2. Surround yourself with other Mamas. As I have mentioned many times on the blog, we have been in a class with other moms since she was 6 weeks old. This has allowed me to create a strong support network of Mamas my age, with kids Marlo's age, who are also stay at home moms. In addition to going to class together, we make play dates with each other throughout the week. And since we have been having the same experiences at the same times, we have created an incredibly special bond with each other.
3. Nurture your relationship with your husband. I don't know if that is even what I am trying to say (but it sounded good - ha!) but what I mean is this: Your husband is your partner in this whole parenting thing. He should be there to support you emotionally more than anyone else in your life during this first year (and every year after). As I just said, I have a great Mama support system, but if it wasn't for my husband I would probably be an emotional mess every day. And I think the key to that is honesty. I tell him when I am at my lowest and need help, and he is there to lift me back up. He has been there to take some of the load off wherever he possibly can (waking up during the night with her, feeding at all hours of the day, giving me free time whenever I need it on weekends (see #4), etc. ) and for that I am truly thankful. You need your husband to be Robin to your Batman, Jim to your Pam, peanut butter to your jelly.
4. Baby-Free Time. This is the key to happiness in your marriage as well as your personal life. My husband will give me all the free time I want on the weekends and I take advantage of it. In the past year we have had a few nights away from Marlo alone, and have cherished every one. Sleeping away from home, knowing that you don't have to check a monitor when your kid makes the slightest noise...priceless. Take advantage of grandparents too! They are the best. And if you need a sitter, Sittercity.com has proven to be a great resource for myself as well as my Mama friends.
So to sum it up: staying at home with Marlo is not boring, it is awesome. I wouldn't change it for the world. This year has been incredible and I am a better person for all of the experiences me and my sidekick have gone through. Everyone always says that time flies when you have kids, and they weren't kidding. I feel like just yesterday my water broke when I was bending over to pick up my dogs poop...now I talk about Marlo's poop with my husband on the phone every day...and I'm lovin' every minute of it!!