Friday, March 1, 2013


That's what I am:  a Stay At Home Mom.

Is it just me, or does that sound more like a prison sentence than a career choice?  I mean, the word "Stay," first of all, seems to imply we are bound, chained...or, maybe, more like a well-trained Labrador..."Stay, boy"... I guess that would be "girl"...

The "Home" part is true, mostly...  I do get out.  It's allowed.  In fact, at one time, I thought Target should charge me rent. Between the Crayola products, toys, personal effects, snacks and restrooms, it was a veritable home-away-from-home, frequented because of a shortage of some essential household item that demanded a stroll with a red shopping cart.

When the kids were very little, especially babies, I relied on an afternoon outing to "break up" a day.  By the time I managed to dress myself, usually by 10 a.m. (What can I say?  I'm an over-achiever), I needed some actual daylight on my sallow live-in-a-cave-like-an-olm skin.  (Look up olm, you will not be disappointed.)  Errands were a part of survival when "Home" starts growing gray and stale and becomes a reminder of all that is stagnant.  The same walls, the replenishing sink of dishes, the laundry basket that never empties, the toys that continually bounce from their appropriate containers no sooner than put away.  The same boring cereal, sandwich, chicken nuggets...arrggghhh!  When we're "Home" for a string of days, breathing up all the oxygen, the atmosphere gets thick and difficult to breathe. 
..."What's that?  We're out of toothpaste?  Well, the store we must go!"

These little outings gave me a sense of control, a change of scenery, and interaction with the human world.  I longed for a diversion when the monotony felt like a straight-jacket, and it made me appreciate returning home when things got a little wild and started to unravel.  It was a distraction, until I could come up with more.

More what?  I don't know....  Motherhood is an ongoing series of slow, but constant, adjustments.  It calls on creativity and patience.  But, 'patience' is almost too idealistic.  Sometimes, we are enduring, just enduring a confinement that leaves little light in a long tunnel of boredom.  Motherhood can be lonely, exhausting, dead quiet or jarringly loud.  Motherhood has the worst hours and the "clients" are intrusive and needy.  They rely on you to provide everything that means anything, and demand unending concierge service.  It absolutely WILL call on you to become something you may not know how to be.  It will reinvent who you thought you were.  It will leave you dazed, sometimes, wondering what step to take next.

I'm at home wearing yoga pants right now, not because I'm in Lotus position-oh, no!  To be honest, they're not for yoga at all.  They are my pajamas.  I wear this androgynous clothing so no one will know I didn't choose to get dressed, maybe I just left the gym...well, maybe I did.  There are many days that aren't worth brushing my hair, much less face the unrelenting honesty of denim.  I admit, I feel a little greasy sometimes shuffling about the house scrubbing showers and excavating the mash of belongings in the bottom of the kids' closets or under their beds.  But, it's so much more than that:  A mom is the pulse, the witness, and the mood of the home.

“Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.”
Robert A. Heinlein

Now, for the "Mom" part.
Career mom vs. Stay at home mom has been a hot topic probably since Eve sold her first loin cloth.  I'm at least smart enough to not even touch the debate.  I would, however, like to be an advocate, a cheerleader, for a moment for any mom who feels "stuck," for whatever reason. 

I am not a "crafty" mom.  I do not home school.  My kids do not, necessarily, come first in all arenas of my life (because sometimes putting them second IS putting their best interests first).  I truly believe life thrives with balance.  I find it pointless, and really quite petty, to vilify another mother and the decisions she has labored to make for the good of her family.  That being said, I am passionate about being a stay-at-home mom because I have learned more about my strengths and creativity and nurturing and compassion and endurance than any other thing I have ever done in my life. 

“I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love & duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting & challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it.”
Rose Kennedy

One day I finally realized there has never been a job I was employed to do that I did not give 100%. Yet, I realized how hard I was resisting the "inconvenience" of motherhood, when I felt like it was swallowing me alive and holding me back from other pursuits.  I had to make motherhood my illustrious career.  What career does not demand organization, effective communication, conflict resolution and multitasking skills?  Guess what are included among the "Top 10 Leadership Qualities" list?  Integrity, dedication, humility, openness, creativity, fairness, assertiveness and a sense of humor.  Sound familiar?  We, basically, have an MBA ladies!

It's difficult to be a mother, no matter what.  I simply urge that when we have one of those want-to-jump-off-a-bridge-into-a-boat-that-will-take-us-straight-to-Cancun days, I know from experience: it does get better.  Most challenges or stages are very short-lived in the grand scheme of things, and when you put your all into something, amazing accomplishments result.

So, take courage, all you moms!  May you find strength for the endless work at hand, find resources for the ever-evolving challenges, find resilience against doubt, find joy in your children, and find pride in all the inspirational altruism you give your families every day.

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