Friday, January 8, 2010

Being a SAHM….

First of all, let me tell you that I never even considered being a SAHM while I was growing up. In fact, I didn’t know people really did that. My mom worked, cooked, cleaned, came to all our games, got us to dance and gymnastics, and never seemed to bat an eyelash at doing it.

Anthony and I started dating my freshman year of college. When we were getting to know each other, I found out his mom had stayed at home with him and his brother. Then, I found out she STILL stayed at home, even though her kids were grown and in college. To be honest, I didn’t really understand why she still did it.

Then Anthony’s brother and his wife moved to Auburn with their sweet baby. It worked out that I only had classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I kept Turner (my nephew, although he wasn’t at the time) for them while they were in class. I thought it was sort of boring but kind of fun. Then, T started talking and trying to say my name. Then he started trying to take steps and walk across the room to me. When Rachel would come home, I would tell her what he’d done that day and you could see the heartbreak all over her face that I witnessed it and she didn’t.

That was when it hit me that I never wanted to miss any of that stuff. I talked to Anthony about it and he seemed like he just sort of expected I’d be a SAHM because his mom did. We decided we’d worry about it when the time came, but I finally understood the importance of being at home with your babies.

We got married. I taught for a year while he was finishing up grad school. When we moved to Florida I was two months pregnant with Ansleigh. I had planned on subbing but didn’t because I was so sick with her. I grew accustomed to being at home with her but I hated most of it. I felt like my life was nothing but diapers, bottles, laundry, and pajama pants. When I was taking care of her or cleaning up, I didn’t know what to do with myself. As she got older, I got really bored. When she hit the 8 month-ish mark, I was super bored. She didn’t “do” anything, she didn’t require a lot of work, and I can clean my whole house in just a few hours and be done for the week. My friends (also SAHM’s) suggested that I take her to the library for story time, or to a park, or make play dates. I did all that (except for the library, which I thought she was too young for). It still wasn’t quite right. I’d lost myself in mommy-hood and didn’t know who I was anymore.

I got a part-time job coaching a middle school cheer squad. They practiced at night (from 6-8) so Anthony could be home with Ansleigh while I got away. I noticed myself turning back into a real person again.

I still stay at home with Ansleigh. I coach Varsity cheerleaders and get paid the stipend that a teacher would get for coaching, just no teacher salary. We don’t have credit card debt. We don’t have car payments (although hubs is going to need a new one soon). We have student loans and our house. We get by each month on his salary with a little left over. We don’t buy things we can’t pay for right then and there. We only use Christmas/Birthday money to buy ourselves things we want. I do a lot of things to cut corners and save money. We manage for me to be able to stay-at-home, but often I wonder if we can continue like this. Money isn’t the most important thing in the world, but you have to have it to survive.

Staying at home can be amazing. I have NEVER missed a single first of my baby girl. She is momma’s girl. But on the other hand, I get bored sometimes. Being at home makes me lazier than I would normally be. I often stay in my pajamas all day (which sounds nice but really just makes you feel gross). I miss out on adult interaction. I hate not contributing financially. I constantly worry about how we’re going to buy something BIG if we need it. We have cheap-o furniture. And pretty much everything else cheap-o (except Ansleigh’s stuff, of course).I feel like people look down on me because I don’t “work” when I really want to scream that I have a college degree from a major university as I walk down the aisle at Publix. People think I have all the free time in the world and sit on my butt all day (occasionally, I do, but most days, I don’t). I hate feeling like I need to explain what all I’ve done that day when Hubs gets home to justify the fact that I’m at home while he’s working.

Part of me is DYING to go back to work. Back to the world of grown ups and pay checks. Will I have as much time as I do now? No. Will I keep my house clean? Probably not, although that implies that it stays clean now. I worry about how we’ll pay for a new (ish) car when his dies soon. How will we pay for preschool? Ballet? Gymnastics? Tball? If I’m working, none of that will be an issue.

People ask me all the time when I’m going to have another baby. I’d like to wait until Ansleigh’s four, but would that mean working for a year just to go back to staying at home? Or would I put the next one in child care and miss those firsts? If I don’t go back to work, the Father only knows how we could manage it. I can hear you now, some of you saying, “If we can do it, you can.” We are not you. I’m not saying we won’t be able to, I’m just saying that everything in our world is not the same as it is in your world.

Anytime I bring up the idea of going back to work or continuing to stay at home, people want to push their ideas on me. “IT’S A MOTHER’S PLACE TO BE IN THE HOME!” or “Money is not more important than your child.” or “You’d really let someone else raise your kid?” Well, yeah, maybe. My mom did and I’m not screwed up…much.

I know it is a blessing to be able to stay at home and there are women who truly do not have the option, but most people can usually find a way to do it if they REALLY want to, be it work from home, do stuff on the side, etc. I’m convinced God gives us gifts and talents to use. Some of us are truly homemakers and are meant to be at home. Some of us God has blessed with incredible business talents or other abilities that need to be utilized outside of the home.

God made me to be a teacher and more importantly, to work with secondary level kids. I know it. But did He really put all that in me to teach for just one year? Can I really afford (professionally) to sit out teaching several more years and expect someone to want to hire me? If I’m not working, how can we afford for me to maintain my certificate by taking classes or getting my masters (which, for the record, I want).

I don’t know what God wants me to do. I don’t know if I’m supposed to keep coaching and stay at home or go back to teaching. I don’t know when I’ll have another baby (or if we can even afford one) and I don’t know if I’ll stay home with that baby. I will tell you that I will NEVER regret being there for my baby girl these first two years, but I’m unsure of what to do for the future. My blog is called “Mommy’s Heart” because it is about the things that are on my heart. Sometimes it is silly or stupid or just plain me, but this is what is on my heart right now.


Katye Campbell said...

Thanks for being honest, Carrie. I love you!!!

Melanie said...

Carrie, you took what has been on my heart for the last six months and put it on paper. Truly. I struggle with this every day, especially the part about justifying what you did all day, and God putting in all that work just to have me teach a year. I have tears as I read your blog because it is so good to know someone else struggles with the same things I do, especially the things that "sound bad" to the outside world (like being "bored" at home and wanting to work but not wanting to miss out). Thanks for writing this!!!

w said...

sometimes i want to go to work. but that's only when the kids are screaming. and when i have to cook.

i was counting on a position as assistant cheer coach. but it never came through. so. i guess i'll just hang out at home and do cheers with dj lance rock.

also. you do what you want, girl. because you're my favorite.

Kristen said...

I just posted a response on my blog. You got me thinking and I wanted to put my thoughts into words, too. My post is not intended to be directly at you - just my thoughts in words about being a SAHM :o)

mandghall said...

I think the masters thing sounds like a great idea for a SAHM depending on night classes/online courses. I also think you're spot on when you say that each family and the way they approach this is different. For us, the part time approach gives me time as an individual, extra money and some career stability. For Susannah, it gives time with other kids and some independence. The thing is, as soon as we (moms or dads or families) figure out what works, something or someone changes. So it's best to figure out how to deal with the ups and downs and make do in the meantime, financially and otherwise. Hang in there- keep us posted!