For years I’ve said “All I ever wanted to be was a wife and a mom.”
Even in my teen years, my parents were afraid, I think, that I would “run off and get married”. I’m sure they were checking my bedroom each evening to make sure I hadn’t packed up and eloped. I’ve been a hopeless romantic from the day I was born with a wild imagination and huge idealistic dreams of how life should be.
After I did finally meet and marry my prince, I began working towards that goal of being a “stay at home mom”. We don’t live in a world where living on one income is easy and in most cases nearly impossible, and I think for a long time, it was not even the cool thing to do for a woman to be a “home maker”. It’s making a comeback now, and that’s so awesome because it’s truly a blessing to be able to do this job.
I’ve been reading Lynn Bowen Walker’s fantastic book “Queen of the Castle” and I love how to says that even if you are a working woman and even if you don’t have children, every woman is a “home maker”. We have a home, we make it. GREAT book, by the way, short weekly passages that uplift and fulfill a needy soul like mine.
So after alllll these years of dreaming of “staying home” (I’m heavy with the quotations today) I finally have arrived! I’m here! I’m my castle, with my prince, and my little princes and princesses. My royal carriage parked outside. Living the dream, right?
I found myself lost, purposeless, frustrated, confused, angry…all those emotions coming out. I was continually asking myself “What is wrong with you?!? You got what you wanted!”
My best friend, an home maker extraordinaire, gave me the advice to “Make your home your job.” I knew how to get up and go to work, done it for years. For me, this analogy made sense. That was familiar to me, so what she meant was to do just that. Make taking care of the home, your job. Set goals and expectations, create a task list, complete it and then when your shift is over – be “off”. I know – mom’s are never “off”, but what she meant was set hours for yourself, set expectations and goals and work your home like a job. Sometimes our job is like a firefighter 48 on, 2 off (instead of 2 days, it’s 2 hours but hey…)
I’ve struggled with this for months – I just couldn’t get “off” by the time I wanted. I was frustrated from the moment the kids walked in the door until bedtime. I never felt like I got done what I should. The house wasn’t cleaned from top to bottom every single day without a single piece of laundry left. I mean – I’m home! Shouldn’t it be spotless in here?!? So – along with unrealistic expectations I’m also facing a time management crisis.
This is also busy time of year for my prince. He’s got a lot going on at his job – being an educator is kind of like being a mom, you’re never “off”. Also having started a new job this year, it’s like he’s starting over and if anyone has ever lived through that first year of teaching, you know how hard it is to ever leave school; there’s always something you need to do. So it’s been a challenge for us. He’s been getting home later than the perimeters I have set in my mind. These perimeters have not been voiced, mind you – so he is not aware of my expectations but he is certainly made aware of my frustration when he misses my mental deadline of an appropriate time to be home. And I was so jealous of him, when he came home he could just sit and enjoy being home. He still interacts with the kids which is helpful while I’m finishing up dinner, but in my mind I was still “on duty”, it was causing me to be angry and frustrated even more. I’d do irrational things like be really loud when making dinner or fuss at the kids so he would know “Hey! I’m working here!!” Which is all completely unfair to him as well – my unrealistic expectations are now spilling over onto my husband and my kids.
So, last night, after about a 5 year streak of fightless living, we had a spat. Both of us not listening to the other and both just focusing on our own feelings – like amateurs. It didn’t last long – never does with us. We hate fighting more than we would hate having our limbs chopped off; but I just felt hopeless and mad at myself for throwing a pity party when I’d gotten everything I ever wanted. What was wrong with me!?!?!
The answer came this morning – sometimes you need to just take a break from yourself and go to bed. So after a good night’s sleep and lots of prayer, a little Bible study (Definitely recommend “The Armor of God” by Priscilla Shirer) I feel like I have some clarity.
This home and these people are my job. I just had my hours wrong. I was planning my day from the time they got up until quittin’ time at 4 or 5 o’clock. And I felt like I should spring out of bed at 6 am, get crackin’ on housework while the baby was still asleep and then by the time the middles got off the bus my day would be winding down.
Then I would ultimately end up frustrated when-low and behold-there was more to do!
SO – my new realization is, Shift one starts at 6, helping get them ready for school and off to the bus – which, lately, my prince has actually done a fabulous job of doing that which I really appreciate because I do love to sleep.
But, when they are off and the house is quiet, the baby is asleep or at his school two days a week. That’s my “break”. Instead of jumping out of bed and doing this and that and running all my energy out, I’m going to take it easy. I’m going to take a shower, read my Bible, enjoy a cup of coffee, write a lengthy blog about motherhood. I know that those are my few precious hours where I’m “off”. So, while sometimes there’s an appointment or other obligation that comes up during that time, I will do my best to schedule appointments after my sacred time.
I know that as soon as the baby wakes my shift begins again. Quittin’ time won’t come around again until bedtime so those hours in the morning need to be cherished. Now I don’t quite feel so frustrated when 5 o’clock rolls around and there’s still homework to be done, dinner to be made, and fights to be broken up and I’m still on duty. I’m the mom – that’s my job. I’m a split shift worker so that little break between can renew my strength, resolve, and creativity.
There are 3 major things I realized.
1. HOURS – It’s just a matter of adjusting my hours, once I did that, I can accept the GIFT of these quiet hours without feeling guilty. If you don’t take care of the one who takes care of things – no one is taken care of. So, if you’re a momma like me, maybe you’ve got this all figured out. This “stay at home” business is new to me, I’m a rookie, so I’m just not figuring it all out. Now I can let go of the jealousy towards my prince – he’s fulfilled his duties, he has different hours. He should enjoy coming home after his day – not enter a war zone instead of what should be his sanctuary.
2. EXPECTATIONS – It’s a matter of adjusting my expectations. “Staying at home” rarely means physically staying at home. Most days are spent on the road, running errands, appointments, playing chauffeur to four kiddos and the like. Cleaning the entire house from top to bottom every day is a ridiculous standard to set, it’s unattainable and unrealistic. I need to set achievable, realistic goals for myself, just like a good manager would do for her employees. Some days are better than others and this is a process, but I go to bed much happier knowing I’ve met my small goals rather than thinking of all the things I didn’t get done and actually a little excited thinking – “tomorrow, I’m going to own that laundry like a boss”instead of “I’ll never get the whole house cleaned tomorrow…” I think a lot of times we have these ideas stuck in our heads of what a “good” mom does. We make ourselves a slave to our house and our kids – working all day and all night only to end up exhausted, frustrated and just really not much fun. When my prince gets home from his long day – I just have nothing left …but WHY?!?! For what purpose am I doing this to myself? For a Better Homes and Gardens House? That’s ridiculous. Sitting down with a cup of coffee to enjoy a quiet moment renews my creativity, sparks my passion for fulfilling my dream of a laughter filled home and gives me time to thank my creator for each.blessed.moment. If you have a minute – TAKE IT!
3. JOB DESCRIPTION – It’s a matter of adjusting my job description. I’m not so much a “home maker” and definitely not a “house keeper” as a “home manager”. There are 5 other people living in this house. Four of those people need to be managed. In order to one day have those four people LEAVE this house and go to houses of their own, they need to be shown the way to be independent responsible adults. So, in small steps, it’s the “home managers” job to do this. There are things that need to be done to maintain a home, stairs that need to be swept, dishes that need to be washed, hallways that need to be vacuumed. I don’t necessarily HAVE to be the one to do ALL of those things. There are FOUR little bodies that have their very own arms, legs AND BRAINS even! that can assist and therefore grow in independence and responsibility. As mom, I “manage”the home and the people in it. Taking the time to teach them how to do these things and the time to find a system that works for us has been a battle, but it’s a battle worth fighting.
My problems aren’t magically solved, there are still struggles ahead, but I do feel a strong sense of relief and a renewed sense of purpose knowing that it’s ok to take my time off in the morning – or whenever those “off” hours may fall. It’s ok to renew my strength by spending that time taking care of my body, taking care of my mind, pursuing a personal passion – like BLOGGING! or even just taking a nap. God has given me these incredible gifts to manage and with His help – I know we can find our way to a peaceful life in the palace.