I have tried to explain to my friends who still have toddlers how much different life is when everyone is your house is older than five. The change sneaks up on you til one day you look up and smile, realizing you have had a complete thought, a complete meal, or best of all, a complete night’s sleep. Your brain is freer, your body is less tired and your whole system is less stressed when the little ones around you are not as prone to kill themselves or someone else all day, every day. One day, you actually forget what all the stress was about. It’s true. Even more true if you are staying at home with them all day.
When I think back to the days of endless spills and crying and bodily fluids and sleep deprivation, I feel so tired for the ones going through it now. It is just plain exhausting. I remember if I try. I was a walking biohazard for years. I think I sat on a couch nursing for an entire year of my life, with all the chaos swirling around me. I think I did – it’s kind of a blur.
I have noticed a disturbing trend among mothers and how they deal with this stress. I’m afraid when it all becomes too much for that mother who so wanted to stay home and raise her little one, she escapes back to the work place. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about going to work to pay the bills or to keep up your skills or any of the very valid reasons women have for going to work. I’m talking about the woman who chooses to stay home, but is just plain wearing out. When she feels like life is not rosy at home like she imagined,
she begins to wonder if the pressure of being worried, tired and unsure of what she is doing can be outsourced to others who seem to know more. When you are new to mothering, daycare workers seem like effortless experts. It is tempting to go back to doing what she knows how to do well at work, for a fixed number of hours a day. And getting paid? Who doesn’t want to go back to getting paid?
I know a lot of moms think they will go back temporarily, until that magic someday when all is right with the world and they can try staying home again. Then they slowly get stuck needing that paycheck to pay the bills they have and they secretly think they don’t have what it takes to be a full-time mom anyway. Everyone supports the usual choice to work, but it is much harder to find people who support her right to “sit home all day” or “struggle financially” or “shelter her children from the real world”. So, even though she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, she lets that dream die. She is weary.
When I had only one child, I lived 20 minutes from everything and everyone. I had no television and no car. There was no internet or texting. My husband worked all day and my friends were all at college. We were even without a church for a time. I read a lot of books and talked on the phone a lot. (It had a cord and everything.) I was basically Caroline Ingalls as to isolation, but without her grace and patience. My daughter was easy to raise and our schedule was regular. I was lonely and poor, but I had no options for work. I only had a high school education so any money I could make would be lost to daycare anyway. I got weary of the isolation and repetition of my days, but I had no options. I know I would have caved to the lure of a paycheck or a car of my own or a group of friends at work in civilization. I was forced to stick to my dream of being a full-time mom. For that, I am grateful.
There is a reason the Bible talks about the older women teaching the younger women to be happy at home. It doesn’t come naturally to our restless spirits. It is a skill that develops over time. Women who leave work to stay home with their kids are surprised by how difficult it is and often say work was much easier. Without support, the weariness can win out, leaving a desire to escape it all, even to work at the place she thought she wanted to leave. A professional, successful mom once told me, she couldn’t wait for Mondays, when her nanny comes and she goes back to work. I looked at her in stunned disbelief, but when I thought about it more, I could see that her weekends are probably a time when she feels out of her depth, from lack of practice and experience with her own children. It is a sad truth that can play out if we don’t stick to our desire to stay home, even when the times get really rough.
I was inspired by this verse: Galatians 6:9 Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. It doesn’t say, don’t grow weary because it is a sin, or don’t grow weary because that is for losers. It offers the long view we all need to see us through. The promise. In due season, we shall reap. The sowing is tough, no doubt about it. But the reaping, the stage I am beginning to see now, is more than worth all the isolation, financial struggle, and missed sleep. For those of you who want nothing more than to be at home and raise your children, do not lose heart. Press on and keep the reaping season in view, knowing you are raising His child.