more than just a stay-at-home mom

i always dread the small-talk between adults. eventually, i know the conversation is going to come around to me and i will be obliged to share what i do for a living.

“Oh, I’m just a stay-at-home mom,” I say timidly. I proceed to keep my eyes low until the conversation finally changes to something else.

I don’t know why I undervalue myself so much by saying I’m “just” a stay-at-home mom. I love being a stay-at-home mom. I feel so thankful and fortunate to be present during every moment of my child’s life. I am there when he learns a new word, or displays a new behaviour, or discovers a new object — and the glorious thing about it is, I am probably the one who taught him that new thing. I am intimately involved in the growth and development of a tiny human. So why do I feel so ashamed?

I thought about what it means to be a stay-at-home mom. What were my responsibilities? What filled my days?

The first thing that popped into my mind was laundry, dishes and vacuuming. Not exactly a killer skill set that leads to boasting. But it’s true, I do spend a lot of time doing household chores. I wake up and clean the dishes from last night’s dinner, then I make breakfast and clean those dishes, too. Then I vacuum and tidy up, and in a blink of an eye it’s lunch with dishes again. Thankfully, naptime brings some reprieve, and I try to take advantage of it by doing something for myself. But the laundry pile is looking at me, and I know I won’t be able to settle until I get it done. Then I notice all the toys lying around the living room, so I tackle putting all that away so I don’t have to share the couch with a plastic fire truck. Before I know it, naptime’s over and I have to make my toddler a snack or face the consequences of his volatile appetite. We try to get organised for a trip to the park, then back home again so that I can make his dinner, give him a bath and get him to bed. I come downstairs, exhausted from the day. But it’s not over yet, I still have to make dinner for my partner and I. No wonder I leave the dishes for the following day…

But, if I’m really honest, these are daily chores that are part of everyone’s lives. If I was a working mom, I would still have to do all of those things in the evenings or on weekends. It’s just because of convenience that all of these chores fall on stay-at-home moms. We’re at home, supposedly just sitting around with a bunch of free time, and so it’s expected that we keep the house tidy. Somehow, stay-at-home mom has become synonymous with housewife.

Is that really something to be ashamed of? I don’t love cleaning and doing laundry, but I take pride in my home and, dare I say it, I might actually enjoy puttering around and getting things done. I’m extremely passionate about cooking and homesteading, and being a stay-at-home mom means I get to spend more time doing what I love. I’m a homebody and I genuinely love it. I guess it’s just that other people don’t seem to understand the sentiment.

our society expects women to become mothers. once they become mothers, it’s expected that they go back to work and achieve fulfilling careers. somewhere along the line, motherhood has been demoted to being a “job” for the lazy and unmotivated.

I have yet to meet a lazy stay-at-home mom. We wake up early and go to bed late. Every hour is spent taking care of someone other than ourselves. We are exhausted and spent, but we show up every day. There are no sick days or holidays, no weekends to blow off steam. Our work is constant and severely undervalued. We might do it in our pyjamas or in our favourite pair of yoga pants, but that doesn’t mean we work any less. Our responsibilities may consist of endless loads of laundry, vacuuming up forgotten cheerios or baking gluten-free cookies for playdates, but that isn’t the sum of what we do.

what we do is we make empathetic, loving, caring children.

Being a stay-at-home mom is a huge responsibility, because it means being accountable for each and every action. Everything I do, everything I say, I teach it to my child. I need to be constantly present and aware of what lessons I’m conveying.

When I ignore him as I scroll on my phone, it teaches him that technology is more important than human contact. When I yell at the cat for jumping on the counter, it teaches him that we have authority over other beings. Conversely, when I listen to his pain and hold him while he cries, it teaches him empathy and understanding. When I bake him cookies from scratch with wholesome ingredients, it teaches him the importance of nutrition and being mindful of our food.

Would he get these lessons if he went to school or stayed in daycare? I don’t know. It would be completely out of my control. That’s why I made the decision to stay at home, because I wanted to be a mindful and present role model for his young, impressionable mind.

i used to think it was a sacrifice to be a stay-at-home mom. after doing it for the past two years, i finally realise what a gift it is.

It’s taught me so much about myself, about patience, presence and the importance of living fulfilling days. I’ve grown into a thoughtful and compassionate person in ways I had never quite understood. My days are filled with love and learning, while I teach my child and he teaches me. And yeah, there might be a whole lot of chores thrown into the mix, but it’s something I’m more than willing to do if it means growing together with the most important person in my life.

My days are monotonous and chaotic, slow and ever changing. It’s beautiful in it’s own unique way. And when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what other people think! I know that I’m doing what’s right for me and my child. That’s all any parent can strive to do.

The next time someone asks me what I do for a living, I’m going to say it loud and with pride.

I’m a stay-at-home mom! And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What makes you proud to be a stay-at-home mom?

Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Kara Western | @karacandraw

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