I have been a stay-at-home mother for almost eight years. Typing this just now it's hard for me to even believe it's been that long. This job is without a doubt the most rewarding, beautiful, fun experience of my life. But, I have a confession to make.
This is lonely work.
Now, I know that you may wonder how this is so. After all, aren't we professional mothers always talking about (complaining about) how we never have a moment to ourselves? How many Facebook funnies have featured a mom's desire to just go to the toilet alone? It's true. I am very, very rarely alone. I'm surrounded by bubbling life, laughter, and slight chaos at all hours of the day and night. Yet, I'm still lonely.
Along with all the fun, all the sweetness and the unforgettably precious moments, there is lots of frustration. Lots of concern, debating in my own mind how best to care for and train these little humans. Lots of messes. Lots of wonder-if-I'll-have -a-chance-to-brush-my-teeth-before-noon times. Lots of trying hard to look good for my husband when he comes home for lunch, all the while knowing that the extra pounds, the unwashed hair, and the spit up stains can't really compete with women he has probably interacted with during the course of his workday. And there's worry that I'm not doing enough. Enough for the kids. Enough for my husband. Enough volunteering at school or at church. Frankly, while all of this is swirling in my heart and mind I feel that I'm barely keeping my head above water as it is.
And then there's the internet. Oh, Pinterest. Oh, Facebook! How can so many stay-at-home mothers manage to make after school snacks in special shapes that their kids will love? How do they have craft time with their preschoolers while the older kids are at school? How do they decorate and redecorate, write wonderful blogs, keep up with fashion, always have their kids looking like a million bucks? How do they wow their husbands with their talents and abilities? It's enough to send an average mother like me into a tailspin.
When I can't even keep up with my laundry.
When I never really learned to cook.
When my house is almost never company ready.
When my biggest concern of the day really and truly is whether the baby has pooped.
And then the day comes to a close. The kids are in bed and I try to think of one interesting thing to discuss with my husband. I try to tell him about something cute the kids did. But, it was really a you-had-to-be-there kind of moment. I talk about something I saw on Facebook. I talk about an idea I have for redoing a piece of furniture in our house that I'll never redo. And then I'm officially out of conversation. So, I ask him questions and try to get some details about his day out in the world. And I clean up the kitchen and restart that load of laundry that I already washed twice before getting it in the dryer.
There are no promotions to shoot for.
There is no feedback on how I'm doing.
And, oh yeah, there is no paycheck.
Yet, I'm happy. Yes, really and truly, and I know without a doubt that I am in the middle of God's will even while I'm in the middle of the chaos, the loneliness, the jokes about soap operas and bons bons. This life, this Motherhood Experiment (my poor guinea pig children), this is my calling. And, even when I'm not that good at it, even when I make mistakes and burn dinner and forget about a spelling test and let my kids watch too much TV, I am still their favorite mother. Imagine that.
So, I persevere. Not every moment of full time mothering is ideal. But, every moment is important. The next time you consider making a joke about how easy stay-at-home mothers have it, consider the lonely hours. There are many. But, these sweet little lives are worth every minute.