Recently I was talking with a good friend about making the transition to becoming a stay-at-home mom. When Baylen was born I decided to quit my job as an event planner and stay at home with him. It was something I had always wanted to do. In fact, when Jake and I met in college one of the first questions he asked me was what my career plans were. I blurted out, “I want to be a mom!” Eek, looking back that probably put the pressure on. Oh well, obviously it didn’t scare him away. So, we adapted to life on one income, and my dream job began.
I truly consider being a stay-at-home mom my dream job. I love spending my days with my little sweethearts and making memories in the ordinary moments. But it’s been a journey settling into my new position. Just like any career change, it’s taken time to figure out how I can be most successful. The learning curve has been steep, and I’m constantly figuring out how to be most effective and supportive in my role.
The first transition I had to overcome was the mental change of pace. Physically, I was beyond busy to the point where it was difficult to find time to take a shower. Changing diapers, breast feeding, entertaining, baby talk, cuddling, rocking, sleep training, staying on top of what seemed like twice as much laundry, and all the other household chores that needed tending to. I was amazed at how one tiny person could require so much time. Yet, mentally I soon realized that I was craving some sort of outlet to keep me feeling like I was still part of society. I needed adult conversation to stimulate my mind. At that point I didn’t have any other friends who stayed at home with their kids, so I had to seek out ways to get connected to other moms. The biggest blessing for me came in the form of a weekly play group at our church. We still lived in Chicago at the time, and every Tuesday morning a bunch of us moms would meet at the church and watch our little ones play while we sipped coffee and chatted it up. It was super informal, low pressure, and a place where we could just be. I met my good friend Leah there, who had four kids under 5 at the time, and she still continues to be an amazing mentor and encourager to me.
I also learned that I had to make time for me, which I talked about a bunch in this post last week. I had to have something that felt like it was mine. My two “me things” are working out and blogging. These things fill me up and help me to feel normal. For some women, it means working outside the home and I think that’s great! Whatever makes you the best mom you can be is what you should do. In a perfect world, I think we’d all get to choose. By no means do I think being a stay-at-home mom is the only way; it’s just what works for me.
Another aspect I had to get used to was the fact that other people don’t always value the work of a stay-at-home mom. Unless you’ve walked in our footsteps, you simply can’t fully understand what it takes. At first it bothered me. I wanted everyone to appreciate what I was doing! Afterall, I was used to getting praised when I completed a project or planned a successful event at my previous workplace. But what now? Now I had to find fulfillment in different ways. It was seeing that precious baby boy smile back at me, or seeing him develop and hit another milestone that made it worth it.
More than anything, being a stay at home mom has forced me to seek fulfillment in the only one who can truly give it. A few months after Emersyn and Mckinley were born, probably close to when the picture above was taken, there was one really hard day that I’ll never forget. I was feeling so alone, like no one else understood what I was going through, not even my husband. That night after everyone had gone to bed, I got down on my hands and knees in our living room and cried out to the Lord. I remember telling Him, “Lord, no one gets it! No one understands or appreciates how hard I’m working!” I cried for a while longer until a peace swept over me. I heard Him say, “Amber, I get it. I see you loving your children and supporting your husband. I see you selflessly serving your family. I made you to do this. I’m proud of you, and I love you.”
From that point on, the ignorant comments from others haven’t really bothered me. I know I’m working for the Lord, and that’s all that matters. My contentment comes from knowing that I am doing a great work for Him.
To all you mommas out there, whether you stay at home or not: God sees what you’re doing too. He sees every little act of love you shower on your kids. He sees you jump out of bed to help your sleepless baby for the fifth time that night. He sees you disciplining your toddler and the consistency it takes to be effective. He sees the way your heart hurts for your elementary schooler as they work through a struggle, and the way you comfort them and tell them it’s gonna be alright. He sees you counsel your middle schooler through friendships, how you teach them what it means to love others. He sees you give your teenager independence and how hard it is on you when they need you less and less. He sees everything. HE GETS IT.
I’ll leave you with a quote that a friend passed on to me that always helps me to put things into perspective.
“Your greatest accomplishment may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”