On mothering…

Most of today’s post comes from a Facebook exchange with an old friend.  It’s a little long, but it sums up my feelings better than anything else I could re-write.

He asked the following:

I’m happy to hear that you are loving being a mom. But you’ve shattered one of my ignorant hypotheses. I’ve talked to quite a few people who are staying home with kids, both male and female, who strike me as intelligent and intellectual. I get different variations on the same theme from them and from myself. It seems like each stay at home parent I’ve talked to believes in what he/she is doing and loves the kids and wants to do what’s right and best for them, but also is frustrated at the lack of a life. We’ve all had a similar thought that we’ve given up our lives for our kids. Each of us has a different sense of loss related to that sacrifice, and each of us has voluntarily made that sacrifice, but it’s a sentiment that I had thought must be pretty much universal. So I had come up with this hypothesis that perhaps the mothers who wanted to stay home with their kids and didn’t miss that "external life" outside the family weren’t as bright or as intellectually driven or something. So imagine my surprise when you shared your love of parenting! You’re clearly one of the bright ones. I remember you as one of the smartest friends I’ve had. So my ignorant, perhaps even bigoted, hypothesis is now in the trash heap. Now I’m seeking another idea about what makes a contented homemaker…

My response:

I think it’s a choice. Staying at home/becoming a parent (the two are so intertwined in my life that it’s difficult to separate them) was an awful transition for me. I had always made more than half of our income. I had a job that I enjoyed. I was finally back in school after putting my husband through school. And, *TMI warning*, the baby was not planned right then and maybe not ever. I cried for months. At my first prenatal appointment, my OB actually suggested abortion and adoption. THAT is how not thrilled I was about the whole thing.

When my baby was a month old, the very day I put my parents back on a plan for Florida, I broke my foot and my hand and was housebound on crutches for 6 weeks or so. (In retrospect, I was majorly depressed and I probably should have sought help.  Have you ever tried carrying a newborn whilst on crutches?  Im-freaking-possible.) I remember sitting there one day lamenting how much the whole thing sucked and I had this moment of clarity. I realized that this was my life for the next 20 years minimum and I had 2 choices. I could be miserable every day for 20 years, or I could learn to find joy. Oprah moment ahead:

I chose the joy.

Not gonna lie…at first it was a lot of effort and a lot of making conscious decisions. I’d find happiness in having a clean sink or showering before noon or whatever. We also used to do this thing before bed where we’d each take a turn saying what the best part of the day was (sort of like Dora the Explorer, don’t act like you don’t watch). It helped me be mindful of just how good I really had it.

To claim that it’s all sunshine and roses all the time would be absurd.  Life throws trials in all of our paths! We’ve had our fair share…worse than some, better than others.  And, I continue to choose the joy.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Comments

  1. Your honesty is refreshing. I am glad you chose joy and so are the rest of the people in your life. Have a wonderful Mother's Day!

  2. The Gunter Family says:

    thank you for sharing! Being a mother isn't always easy, but it's the best job in the whole world!

  3. merideth says:

    um…wow.
    wow.

  4. Sew Fun! says:

    happy mother's day!

    thank you for sharing this post..glad you dispelled your friend's ignorant hypothesis.. for his sake. i had a couple of comments re: his ignorance, but honestly, what's the point?

    this is about you…a mom who totally "gets" the joy of parenting.

    God bless..
    xo

  5. OK…NOW THIS IS MY FAVORITE!!! You made me tear up. I LOVED loved LoVeD this post! Beautifully written and expressed. I love you Char. If you were in my kitchen right now I would NOT give you a hug! Happy Mother's Day!

  6. stephjacobson says:

    What a nice post–happy Mother's Day!

  7. Char @ Crap I've Made says:

    Meredith,

    It's hard to read someone's "tone" over the internet, but I sense some displeasure from you.

    Motherhood isn't easy and I think that most of us feel under-appreciated at times. My point was that (as the header of my friend Heidi's blog says) "happiness is where you find it".

    I could have chosen to wake up angry this morning because it was before 7 and no one let me sleep in or brought me breakfast in bed. I could stew about the fact that my husband has no plans to cook me dinner. Heck, we don't even have milk. I could sit and cry about the fact that he didn't actually get me a present because I'm not his mother…but what's the point? Instead, I choose to enjoy my family today and be grateful for these 4 fabulous children that God has given me.

  8. Alayna says:

    True true true. They key to any life we choose is to CHOOSE TO ENJOY THAT LIFE. There will always be frustrations of one kind or another but at the end of the day we should be able to say we are doing what we want to be doing and finding joy in it. It took me a while to find my stay-at-home groove to but I'm so glad I made that decision and am following through on it, even when the case isn't flowing as we would like it to be.

  9. Lacie @ Creative Attempts says:

    my only child is going to start kindergarten in the fall and I am faced with the concern of what to do with my time….do i go back to work? Do i get involved in the school stuff? I guess the fact that i have the option is joy enough :)

  10. Daniel, Sara and Dmitri says:

    Love this! Thank you for sharing {I definitely needed it}. Happy Mother's Day to you!! :)

  11. porter family says:

    never knew you were this deep. or sentimental. its sweet! surprising, but sweet.

  12. Aunt LoLo says:

    I read Meredith's comment a little differently. If I were speechless…that's probably something I would write.

    Anyhow, LOVED this post. HAPPY is such a conscious choice. It's something we seek out for ourselves…and I LOVE how you described it! Staying home with my kids was always my choice…but I'm finding that there's a difference between enjoying HOMEMAKING and enjoying MOTHERING. I love homemaking…and I'm working on enjoying mothering. And it hurts me to admit that.

  13. The Girl Creative says:

    This was great, Char. Sometimes life doesn't go according to our plans but God always has a plan. I love it that you are choosing JOY! Way to go, mama!! :)

  14. Queen Elizabeth says:

    Amazingly well said. Keep up the good work.

  15. The Harding Hive says:

    Char, you are awesome and I am so thankful to know you. Enough said.

  16. Danielle says:

    I won't get into the details of why, but I needed to read this today. With tears in my eyes, Char, I wish you and all the Moms out there, a Happy Mother's Day!

  17. Happy Mothers day to one of my friends who I admire more than she probably realizes! I am so glad that you chose Joy. You are an amazing parent, and your kids are so lucky to have a mom like you.

    Funny, my plans have always been to be a SAHM, and it wasn't my plan to work. But now that it has become necessary, I have found joy in that too.

    I love you Char!
    Happy Mothers day, and thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

  18. Jeremy says:

    Great post Char.

    Happy Mother's Day!

  19. Liz @ LivingMySweetLife says:

    wow. this was wonderfully said! And something I most definitely needed to hear. I still have a hard time accepting my choice to stay home.

    thank you for sharing something so honest with us.

    I really enjoy you blog and have tried many of your projects (like the tie onsie… my kids have like…10. seriously.)

    Happy Mother's Day!

  20. Anderson says:

    I just found your blog randomly… but I wanted to comment and say "amen." You are beautifully honest and amazing in that you recognize the choice. Love it or hate it, it's our choice. I'm glad you chose the joy (and I imagine your kids are too) :)

  21. Me and Madeline says:

    Oh, this was wonderful. Just wondeful. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  22. motherhood unedited says:

    I wrote a blog and quoted you from this… It was very inspiring to me. I hope you do not mind but as a single mother finding the joy in motherhood everyday is something I struggle with but I am going to try 10 times harder. This made my mothers day! http://motherhoodunedited.blogspot.com/2010/05/single-moms-on-mothers-day.html

  23. Thank you, thank you. What a wonderful post. Just what I needed to hear.

  24. The Noalls says:

    I have a friend who asked her sister, "Are you a bad mom if you want to throw your kid out the window once in awhile?" Her sister replied, "No, you're only a bad mom if you actually do it." Just an example that you're right, it's not all sunshine and roses, but we have to appreciate the good! Not always easy to do. Thanks for your honesty and love!

  25. THANK YOU! I just found your blog and fell upon this post. Beautifully said! It's the toughest job I've ever had – and there are often days I wish I had a job out of the house so I felt justified running away to restore my sanity in the company of grown-ups. But, ultimately, this is where I find my joy. It may not be where I always find my fun – but joy is a definite and I am forever grateful to my husband & children for giving me this constant, guaranteed refuge of peace & joy… even if I have to dig to find it some days!

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