March 21, 2011

staying home

**This is part II of the post, my thoughts on this good day.

For the most part, I spent the majority of my high school and college years telling people my end goal was to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to have a college education so I could always have the option of working if I needed or wanted, but I also felt that my vocation was to stay home with my kids. "My mission field will be my kitchen," I would tell people.

I still feel like that is true, but I never suspected how very hard mothering would be for me. And I had no idea that God would give me three children in two and a half years. With my three little kids every day gives me the opportunity to be overwhelmed by something. Many days I don't feel prepared for the life I'm living and that feeling can send me spiraling.

There is the expression "God doesn't call the equiped, He equips the called." But I tell Travis, "God did not equip me for this! He has left me unprepared and I am failing at this. I'm drowning!"

So, in order to feel like I'm keeping my head above water, I fill my days. Play groups, errands, visiting great grandparents, spending long days at my mom's house. I will take the long way home, I will drive a piece of paper somewhere when I should have just mailed it, I will find excuses (however good or bad) to load the kids in the car and drive them around. I want to feel busy and important and I want to interact with other adults. I also want to feel like I'm in control and that feeling is so much easier to come by when my children are strapped into carseats, quietly sucking down bottles or munching on pretzels.

Yet something I'm noticing is that my kids seem to do much better when we are home. It's just like the experts say - kids like routine - and I am able to consistantly structure their days when we are home. The mornings we awake, eat, dress, play. Maybe we run a simple errand or go to a playgroup, but then we come home for lunch, naps and quiet time, an afternoon of playing, dinner, books, bed. Oh doesn't that sound nice? It is.

I think my kids need less of the "more" I was forcing upon them so I could fill my days, and more of me. More time playing on the floor, baking, reading, snuggling, talking with me.

I'm not sure what to do with the feelings of being overwhelmed. In a good moment I offer them up for the Body of Christ. In one of the many bad moments I curse and yell and expect too much out of my daughter. But I'm pretty sure I can't keep trying to run away from these feelings. Especially in a mini van.


  1. Disclaimer here: I am a homebody. The work it takes to strap the children in the car to actually go somewhere is usually too much for me.

    That being said, I've found that my children do much better when we stay home most of the time. If we leave two or three days in a row, they usually get so tired and cranky and defiant, it isn't worth the trip. When they are in a routine at home, their happy little personalities shine instead of being balls of screaming grumpy.

    My house overwhelms me too. There is always more to do and it seems you can work all day and get nothing done. It is nice to leave the house to not have the evidence of failure staring back at you in every room of the house. How to cope?

    I make a rough written schedule so every hour has some structure. I don't mean structured activities for the kids, but for you. When you write down what you need to do and when it should happen, you can instantly see if you are mindlessly wasting time or if daily activities just take more time than you have allowed them to take in your mind. Does that make sense?

    If you know that breakfast is going to take an hour, don't get upset when breakfast takes an hour and you didn't get the bathrooms cleaned during the same hour. For me this is much easier said than done.

    Look at a monastic schedule. They don't really have that much time scheduled for work. It is the same with mothers. But that is not what we expect. We expect to cram every minute full so we can "accomplish" something.

    When you have scheduled playtime and added buffers for clean up and transitions and all the stuff that pops up, you will relax and your children will relax. That is when you can truly enjoy each other.

  2. I read that first paragraph and said "That. is. me." Seriously, some of my old friends still kinda look down on me for aspiring to be a stay at home mom, but I really feel it's what I'm called to do. I'm getting married in a couple of months and we hope to start a family relatively soon :-)

    It was nice to read some honest feelings summarizing what being a SAHM is like. I'm sure it's quite stressful at times and very hectic. God bless you and your family and I hope to join the ranks of crazy moms very soon!


  3. I totally could have written your post, Bonnie! You're not alone!

  4. I love reading your blog. I am getting married in 3 months, and eventually I will (at least I intend to) be a SAHM. Between lessons my mom has taught me, and the truth that you share on this blog, I've come to appreciate SAHM's so much more. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share on here for us to read.

  5. Jim actually clapped after I read this to him, he said that this was so awesome! because I could have signed the bottom of this letter and he would have believed that I wrote it, thats how much our lifestlyes are alike. and he has never seen you at home but knowing who you are, he believes that you are doing a better job than you think because of who you are. Jim and Mandy

  6. Yep, I've been there.

    My constant prayer for the last few months has been: Lord please give me a love for my work and the energy to do it! (And yesterday I found it answered as I was washing the windows and herding gleeful children with the garden hose)

    It's a challenging job (we have three kids 4, 2, and 9 months) but it is the most important job I'll ever do. That said, there are days that I miss looking at sales figures at the end of the night instead of a sink full of dishes. Life in the "real world" was a cake walk!

  7. Wow! How amazingly honest! I was blessed to stay home for a while with my son and I can tell you that whether staying home or working, I think this is the burden of being a mother. We can look at our children and husbands and see such perfection from god, but look at ourselves and see all of the things that we seem to lack as mothers, wives, etc. I can only imagine the sheer volume in heaven of the prayers being lifted by mothers all around the world for patience, understanding, and the energy it takes to do such amazing work!