If you had told me 10 years ago that in 2014 I would be a stay at home mom, homemaker and homeschooler, I would have laughed you out of the room. I mean, that’s a lot of home and I’m not really a homey person. I went to college to make lots of dough and live the good life, right? So how did I get here? It was a long journey and had many bumps along the way. If you’re struggling with this transition, just know that you are not alone. And you can do it. Here is my story.
Soon after my husband and I got married, we were still growing in our relationship with God and with each other. There was a couple in our lives that were raising incredibly obedient kids and had a great God centered marriage. We wanted that. She stayed at home and they homeschooled their children. It seemed great for them…but I didn’t know if that was for me.
Fast forward a year later, I was 7 months pregnant and working. We were still trying to decide if I was going to stay at home or keep working after the baby was born, but we were unsure. We prayed about it, but no definitive answer came. Just in case, we stopped spending my paychecks and put every penny to paying off our debt: credit cards, student loans, car loans, all of it. We discovered that we could live on my husband’s income when we were debt free (our first sign that I could be a stay at home mom.)
Then, at my 7 month OB checkup, I was put in the hospital with preeclampsia and my daughter was born 2 days later, 11 weeks early at 2 lbs. 7 oz. She was in the NICU for 3 months before we could bring her home. I went back and forth to the hospital every single day (a 30 minute drive) and spent most of my day there. Pumping every 3 hours to keep my milk going. I was exhausted.
Finally when she weighed 6 lbs. 6 oz., we were able to take her home. It was 2 weeks before my maternity leave was up. I knew I couldn’t leave her. She just got home. How could I just hand her off to someone else to take care of her? I am her mom, that’s my job! I couldn’t do it (that was the second sign). I was going to be a stay at home mom.
At first I was excited about this, not really aware of just how hard it was going to be. I didn’t know what to do with myself during the day. It was all nursing, cleaning and trying to get some sleep while trapped inside the four walls of our 3 bedroom house. Most days were just a big blur.
The majority of my friends worked, so they weren’t around. I discovered I really didn’t know how to be a stay at home mom… I was a career woman, that’s what I was trained to do. No one ever taught me how to be a stay at home mom/housewife. I was alone in this new world and I felt like a failure; though, I would never have admitted any of that. I put on my happy face around friends. I gained even more weight on top of the baby weight, which only made me feel worse about myself. I started getting depressed. Only I didn’t know it.
Eighteen months later, (that’s a long time for this to go on!) a friend found me out and advised me to go see a Christian counselor. Reluctantly, I did. She was great. She also suggested that I may want to get on some antidepressants for a few months and see if that might help. So I tried it. And they did help get me going. (I took them for 4 months and slowly weaned off of them.) I finally started feeling alive again. She also suggested that I join some groups with other stay at home moms that would get me out of the house and help me get out of my funk. I think that is what really helped.
I joined a stroller aerobics class and I LOVED it! We had a great time and I finally started getting that weight off. I actually got down a size smaller than before I was pregnant. I also started getting out more. My daughter and I would do recreational activities around the community and I would try to get out of the house at least once a day. I built up my network of friends and learned that it’s OK to ask for help and it’s OK to feel overwhelmed. Most moms do, and, it’s OK to cry! When life hits us hard, we just need to sit down and get it all out. Cry out to Jesus and tell him you are tired and you need Him to give you rest. He’ll be there. He always is. But life, it keeps coming!
Fast forward another eighteen months, and I was pregnant with my second daughter. Preeclampsia again, but this time we caught it early and I was on bed rest for 10 weeks, the last 4 weeks in the hospital. Now that threw a wrench in things! My Navy husband was out to sea and here I was alone and needing to be on bed rest with a 3 year old. How is that even possible? Well, you ask for help. NEVER be afraid to ask for help. What can anyone say, no? Well, they can also say yes. My sister was able to stay with me and take care of my 3 year old and me for two weeks and then God brought my mom to come live with us.
Now, my mom would never say God brought her. But I know He did. I needed her and He knew it. We haven’t always had the best relationship, but when it counted, she was there. She even stayed for a while after the birth and after my husband came home. And we didn’t kill each other. But then, she went home, and my husband went back to work.
Life is harder with two. And my second wasn’t nearly as happy go lucky as my first. I felt trapped at home again. But I knew I didn’t want to end up back in the hole of depression. So I got us out of the house. I called friends for play dates. I let people come in my incredibly messy house. And they didn’t care because they love me! Some of them even cleaned it for me! Well, one of them. She’s crazy and that’s why I love her!
My house is rarely clean these days. I had to stop beating myself up about that one, too. Yes, I’m a stay at home mom, but just because I’m at home doesn’t mean I have time to keep it immaculate. There are small children living in it, after all. And try keeping a house clean when you’re homeschooling and cooking 3 meals a day. Impossible if you ask me!
How did we end up homeschooling? Well, that’s a story for another time. For now, I just hope to encourage you. Whether you’re are a new stay at home mommy, or you have been doing it for years and you feel overwhelmed, it’s OK. You’re not alone. It is not easy. It is hard. But you CAN do hard things. Get out of the house. Have fun with your kids. Get involved in a group of likeminded moms who can give you encouragement and support. Ask for help when you need it! Pray, pray and pray some more! You can do this momma! And you know what? It is TOTALLY worth it.
Keepin’ it crazy!