” Is that dried spit up on the floor?”
“Oh, to have all the time to read Scripture like you do.”
“You have way too much time on your hands to think about that.”
“She will not be as well rounded because you are the only one she sees.”
“Well, I worked full time and kept a clean house.”
These are just a handful of quotes I have heard over the course of this year. Anyone who knows me knows that my classroom was labeled in every corner. Everything had a place. All my work was done days in advance. I would be the first one to volunteer for things everyone hated to do. I knew what I would do every five minutes, from 7:25 to 2:15 everyday. Teachers are like that and we have to be. I may not be in a classroom anymore, but I am teaching.
Life slowed down to a moment by moment, crawl. This pencil skirt loving, lesson plan making, on time women has turned into someone that could have spit up in my hair at any moment, toys and books all over the floor and not knowing what any moment of the day will be like. I used to think that I would have a spotless house, a “put together” baby and schedule. That is not reality. Addilyn and I have somewhat of a schedule (not from a book), and I try to hit those tasks everyday. Honestly, my goal has been to have the common areas tidy before bed and to take care of her and her needs. That includes changing, feeding, dressing, bathing, playing with, reading with and being everything I need to be for her.
Though she has gotten more independent at this point, she still wants my full attention. If I am putting dishes in the dish washer, she is in her walker steadily jabbing my heels trying to see every dish I put in. If I am sweeping the floor, she is in her walker chasing me and giggling around every corner of peek-a-boo. If I am picking up her toys, I am naming every shape, color or texture of the toy. Everything I do, I am saying aloud. “Let’s open up this cabinet and get the cereal out for my breakfast… Did you drop that toy on the floor, silly girl?… Look at this orange star I am putting in the red bucket.” At times I think my words are lost, but I know she is listening and learning. Even with all I try to do for her, things fall by the wayside. Laundry gets put on hold. Vacuuming is rare. Shower cleaners better not require scrubbing.
I gave up being respected.
It sounds crazy, but there have been people that slyly slip in the word “time” as if I have plenty of it. “You have way too much time on your hands.” I wouldn’t expect someone who has never stayed home to understand where my time goes and I won’t try to relate to a mom who works, has children and runs her home. I respect the hard work that goes into putting so many things on your plate. I thought, going into this, that people would just be happy for me to stay home. There are plenty of people that are, but then slip in something to do with me having more “time” to get things done. This is a 24 hour job and time is essentially nonexistent.
I gave up an income.
I am thankful that my husband can and does provide for us. There isn’t a minute at a grocery store or any time I pay for anything, that I feel good about spending money (on something I didn’t earn). Even with my husband giving me the green light to buy what we need for our family, it still bothers me. It bothers me when I see him walk in the door exhausted, or when he has a rough day. It bothers me when we go to pay bills and I know that I haven’t contributed anything. I have a Masters degree in School Counseling and am currently sitting on it.
I gave up putting myself high in priority.
My body has changed and my confidence is different. I used to be confident in what I accomplished at work. I was proud of getting things done efficiently and on time. Now, my confidence comes from what milestone my daughter reached that day. Maybe she pulled up, started laughing or pulled open a cabinet. There are days when I realized that I didn’t drink water until lunch or that I haven’t cut my nails in weeks. I used to spend an hour getting ready, and now everything is based on if the diaper bag is packed and my daughter is coordinated with her bow. I might have a messy bun and gym clothes on, but my daughter will be the cutest kid at the store. Ha! Though I still put time away for myself in the form of a workout or my art, I honestly won’t get away from my daughter long enough to get much done for myself. I am lucky to get a shower.
I gave up time into my friendships.
I spent three years at my last school. Everyday I said “hi” to the front desk ladies and asked about their weekend. I chatted with the janitor that hates stacking up chairs. I knew when to leave the librarian alone or when it was safe to enter. I spent hours after work just talking with people. My grade level team became family and knew about my being pregnant before my real family. Not only my coworkers, but my students and their families. Going to work is a way to have a consistent set of people you get to share life with.
“Those were the happiest years of my life.”
“I will gladly work 10 extra years because I wouldn’t have traded staying home for anything.”
“You are going to love staying home.”
“You’ll love having her run into walls in her walker and taking her for walks in her stroller.”
“Enjoy every minute of it because it goes by so fast.”
These are the quotes that were said to me before my daughter was every born. Of course, these came from people who were able to stay home with their kids at one point in their lives, but their words are what I cling to. They were right in every assumption. This year has been one of the happiest and hardest years of my life. I can’t remember the last time I slept 8 hours in a row, or I got dressed without wondering if nursing was possible in the outfit I chose. Sleeping in is no longer a possibility because baby girl is a morning bird. My only role is to be all my family needs me to be. I gladly make most of the meals, do the bills, make the appointments and clean the house. Okay, cleaning the house isn’t so “gladly,” but I do it.
If you would have told me ten years ago that I could stay home as a mama, I would have thought you were crazy. The reality is that “on the ball” teacher has turned into the master of reading baby books in different voices. The queen of picking up the most toys dropped on the floor in under five minutes. The skilled craftsman behind diaper management. The nutritionist behind the blended baby foods. Last but not least, the expert of moving my hand across the carpet to find exactly the spot of spit up. Yep! I have picked up many “skills” this year. They may not be ones that are particularly respected enough for a resume, but they have made me into a better person. Addilyn has made me into a better person.
She has pushed me to the point of patience. She has screamed to the point of my exhaustion. She has giggled to the point of laughter. She has tested me to the point of saying “no.” She has loved me endlessly. There is not greater joy than to hear her belly laugh as Jordan taps on a glass at dinner. Everything that used to matter to me, just doesn’t anymore. I thank God everyday that He blessed me with my family.
I may have given up so many parts of my life to stay home, but what I have GAINED is far greater.