Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where I'm at

What should a woman be? What should she want and what should her life look like?

Is it better to be a stay at home mom or a working woman?

How do you not lose your sense of worth and importance when the most impressive part of your day is making a baby laugh? There is no hob-nobbing with impressive people, traveling to exciting places or being admired and respected by a crowd of people when you're at home trying to stick to your cleaning schedule, nursing your infant and planning dinner.

I love my daughter and I love my husband, yet sometimes the life I'm living just isn't what I thought it would be. I feel like I am not the person I wanted to be at this stage in my life and that worries me for their sake.

But in the back of me there is a little voice telling me that I need more humility. Where I more humble I'd be more grateful, compassionate, generous, merciful, patient and loving. I think that if I were those things this blog post wouldn't have been written.

6 comments:

  1. You know that silly quote, "Wherever you go, there you are"? I liken that to life as a stay at home mom, this is where I am in life so I might as well live it to the fullest. It's the least glamorous job in the world but at times the most fulfilling (although that's hard to see during these newborn months). It's a difficult balance trying to serve God and your family while still finding time for yourself. But I try to remember that my children won't need me forever and will soon be grown and then gone, so I need to do the best I can now while he still needs me the most.

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  2. Bonnie, I am very much here with you. I've been struggling a lot lately with my identity and worth, and obsessing over what I might do in the next phase of my life (unless Nate changes his mind about a 3rd baby, Theo will be in school in 3 years, so I can definitely see the next phase coming up quickly). This is a new struggle for me. For the first years of Simon's life I was sooooo extremely happy and fulfilled staying home with him. But I just don't feel that way anymore, and it is hard to accept my own feelings. You have hit this hard spot a lot sooner than I did, and I have my theories as to why. First, you are your own woman, so of course you will not experience things exactly the same way I do. Second, maybe because you were out in the world as a working woman before you became a SAHM, it is harder to make the transition.
    Here are my two cents: I do believe that staying home with one's kids is a noble calling and can be wonderfully meaningful and fulfilling. I also believe that some women are happier working outside of the home. I don't think there is anything wrong with making that choice. I really, really don't. You just have to decide which category you fall into and then slowly more toward that goal (the goals being 1. get a job and find care for Lydia or 2. find peace and fulfillment as a SAHM).

    There are probably a lot of books on this topic that could help you. My recommendation is called Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. If you decide you do indeed want to continue to stay home with your babe (or even if you don't), it can really help you develop a good mindset for happiness during a time filled with often menial, thankless tasks. It has helped me a lot.

    Finally I want to reprimand you for being too hard on yourself for having these thoughts and feelings. From what I can tell, what you are going through is the most normal of emotions for mothers, especially those who have spent time in the work field first. Don't blame this struggle on all your perceived character flaws. It's just hard, that's all, and we all get through it the best we can.

    xoxoxo

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  3. That last bit didn't come out the way I wanted it to.

    That book I recommended is all about seeing parenting as a spiritual practice. The focus in the book is always remaining present, in the moment, and how that can help your attitude toward/relationship with your children. I guess you were really talking about the same thing when you mentioned that you need to develop more humility. Just don't get too down on yourself for not already possessing the qualities you think would help you in this situation. Think of developing humility, presence, and all the other virtues you listed as a daily spiritual practice, and give yourself grace and time to get there. You just started on this journey, after all. Give yourself some time to find your stride.

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  4. I know that you will make whatever decision fits best for you and your family. I know you, bonnie and though I haven't been around you for awhile now, some things don't change. You very rarely make rash decisions, you care to the nth degree about friends and family. So, you will know what to do. I know that's not great advice, but it's what I've got for you. One thing that I can tell you is that I haven't been truly happy for about three months now. That's when I went back to work. What is best for Landon? Home daycare or institutional daycare? Can we afford it? Why does that woman get to stay home and watch my baby while I am at work dealing with a bunch of crap! It's not fair. Someone else is getting to watch him play, help him learn, make him laugh. That breaks my heart every day! I cry too much, worry too much, and have found myself not enjoying the time that I have with him because of this sadness that I have. WHen you called me from Steak N SHake the other day, I got so jealous of you, but sooo happy for you at the same time that you were having a nice family day.
    With all of that said...if you decide that it is best for you to work then that is great too! You know what your family needs. I agree with the previos post, too...don't beat yourself up for feeling like this! We all have and we all will and it's okay. I feel like I didn't help at all, but mostly vented on my own life. I'm sorry! (Maybe I need my own blog!)

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  5. OK, so I typed out this long comment, and it's not there. So, I'll try again.

    Motherhood is absolutely, entirely humbling (and so hopefully sanctifying). I can completely relate to what you're going through.

    I felt (feel) guilty that I didn't enjoy being a SAHM as much as I thought I would, and it seemed my friends were so much happier than I was. What helped me was volunteering a few hours a week. Just that short time each week helped me be a better mom and wife.

    But what really helps me is watching other mothers-- it's so easy to see the beauty of their incredibly important job. And then I realize they're doing what I'm doing, I'm doing that beautiful thing too. It's so easy to get swamped by the daily grind of crying, feeding, cleaning (even yesterday I was throwing a fit about it). But it reminded me of "Letters to a Young Catholic" and how Weigel points out that Catholicism, and the Incarnation, are so "messy" and corporeal.

    I think my missing comment said it better! Anyway, even if it doesn't feel like it, you are doing a beautiful thing!

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  6. Even if you didn't have your wonderful husband & daughter, Bonnie, I think you would still wonder if you were doing what you're supposed to in life - and, yes, strangely that's supposed to be a comforting thought. = )
    I am not a mother; I am not even a wife. I have yet to confront the debate of whether to be a stay-at-home mom or to work. Yet I daily confront the debate about the importance/significance of my life. I sit in a cubicle every day & stare at a computer screen. Believe me when I heartily say that this is NOT the life I imagined for myself either. My ideas were much more lofty as well, yet none of my jobs have yet yielded hob-nobbing, traveling or receiving admiration from others. Who created such silly, romantic notions about work anyway? = ) The greatest benefit I receive from my job is that it pays the bills = )
    Some days I truly enjoy my job, but that does not prevent me from wondering if it's what I'm really supposed to be doing. None of us are alone in that feeling, though the conflicting interests are different for each person.
    I apologize that this comment has probably served of no use to you, but I'm just trying to convey that it is a universal struggle you experience when doubts creep into your mind about what you are doing. It is not just the struggle of mothers and wives, but of everyone. I have been dealing with that struggle a great deal lately, which is why I felt inspired to leave you such a long, rattling comment (if it bores you, please forgive me and take satisfaction in the fact that it has helped me to unburden myself). = 0)

    Sarah Bates

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