Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mothering: My Surprised Heart

I had a stunning realization on Sunday. I had just gotten back from a nice bike ride and walked with my kids down to “the big hill” to pick blackberries. The blackberries aren’t on the big hill. They are in the bushes at the edge of the field. The boys love playing on the big hill and were thrilled for Momma to take them there after dinner. We picked a plastic container full of blackberries.
Back to my realization… I thought to myself, “I just love this.” I loved the family moment, the excitement of my kids, and picking the blackberries. It suddenly hit me that I was very, very happy- as a mom. I couldn't remember the last time I felt unsatisfied staying home with my children. What a smile that brought to my face!

I know many, many moms that long to be a stay-at-home mom. That was never the case for me. I fell into it. I had planned to back to work as soon as I could when my first son was born. I had childcare lined up. The glitch was that we were moving 4 months after my son was born. The move complicated my desire to return to work. How could I put my 6 week old through the adjustment of daycare when we would be moving a few months later and I didn't have any job prospects at our new location? I couldn't do it and I didn't. But, I did struggle.

I was torn. I felt insignificant. I struggled with feeling useful and intelligent. I knew I was intelligent, mind you. I just didn't think I was using my intelligence. I was not satisfied.

On Sunday night, I grabbed my computer and searched for an old Motherhood post. It described my internal struggle. Here's that post: Mothering: Thoughts from My Heart. It ends with this statement: "I just struggle with being content in this stay-at-home mom position."

I am not struggling with contentment as a stay-at-home mom anymore. 8 years of struggling and I am not struggling anymore. After years and years of a hurting heart, I am happy in my place in life. I was surprised at the realization. I was stunned.

For the last two days I have been thinking about what changed.

Two years ago we moved to a small town. We choose the town but I was not prepared for the change to smaller town living. It took me a while to adjust. I have embraced my town.

I am embracing a slower life style.

There aren't that many places to go. I'm at home more. Instead of running here and there, I focus on my family and my friends. I am outside more (at least in the summer). I love things such as bike rides, letting my kids play in the rain, watching the kids get excited about tadpoles from the creek, and picking berries with the kids. I've slowed down enough to enjoy little things.

I've slowed down enough to stop longing for more.

Another part of my change of heart has to do with a change in perspective. Somewhere along the way, I stopped comparing myself to others. I didn't recognize how much I was looking at what I perceived as success. I couldn't measure up to it. I don't struggle with that near as much. Slowing down changed my perspective. I don't long for the success of others. I savor moments of stillness looking at the stars, the contagious sound of laughter from my children, the huge grin on my son's face when he brings me a dandelion flower, and praying with my family. I appreciate the beauty around me.

I could write more. Maybe I will write more in another post. For now, I have to go. My 4 year old just told me this is the best day ever. I asked him why and he said "just because". So, I'm gonna get going. I have to finish my cheese grits and get ready to go to "the big hill". I told the boys we would go this morning. We don't need more blackberries. We just want to go have some fun.

I'll leave you with a picture of me from Sunday night enjoying my berries and ice cream.

(One more thing - I am reading Ann Kroeker's book Not So Fast. It is encouraging and challenging me even more to slow down. I highly recommend it.)


Carmom said...

Lovely post as always. Isn't interesting how we all seem to compare ourselves to each other even though we know better? I am so glad that you have found happiness and contentment in your role as a stay-at-home mom. I think if everyone was able to be content we wouldn't have all the fights of stay at home vs. working moms. Thank you.

Lauren said...

Great post! I never wanted to go back to work, but even so sometimes I struggle with this SAHM position. And then my kids will say something that just makes me laugh or my new baby rolls over for the first time in front me and I realize that it is more than worth it. It is my legacy!

And those berries look incredible! Yummy!

momstheword said...

I always wanted to stay home with my kids, always. But there were moments, at home when the kids were little, where I just felt like "is this all there is?"

I had tied up my self-esteem in my home, I guess, and when I was tired or cranky, then I just felt like a "bad" mom and so I struggled with feeling like a failure and feeling like they deserved better.

I never felt like going back to my job but I did feel guilty, at times, because I wasn't living up to what I had dreamed that I would be as a stay-at-home mom.

Then I realized I didn't have to be perfect, the house could be messy some days, and that all I needed to do was find a bit of a balance, relax, and just love my kids instead of fearing that I needed to be perfect.

Foursons said...

Love that your whole perspective has changed. I am job hunting right now since Nolan will be in Pre-K all day starting next week. I haven't worked for 8 years. I don't want to work, but know I need to. Such a huge change for me.

Beth E. said...

What a beautiful post, Jane Anne! I used to have the same struggles that you once had. I came to the same realization that it's all about what we hold dear in our hearts....or, as you said, our perspective!

I moved from a big city to a small town in the mountains. It was a big adjustment at the time. I love it here! I love my lifestyle, I love the people. It truly is a great time in my life. Even with all of the changes going on in our family, I am very content.

Amy Jo said...

Wonderful Jane Anne. I'm so happy for you. So so happy. Thank you for sharing your heart.

MiMi said...

I struggled trying to find a place of contentment too, and I didn't want to go back to work at all. It's just a HUGE adjustment. Takes time.

Mother Letter said...

I'm telling Ann you are reading her book. Seriously. I'm doing it.

Great post.

Amber@theRunaMuck said...

So funny! I was going to ask if you had a copy of that book yet. I'm so glad you do. I think we have a copy on the way, and I'm pumped about it.

I needed this, and I'm praying (good idea, right)about how to slow down. Even if I don't have plans, my head is spinning to fast to have JOY.

Thanks for sharing, babe.

Missy said...

I love reading your blog. It always makes me look at things in my own life.

I know I need to slow down. I need to learn to say no. I need to learn to be content with the life I have. I love being a SAHM, but I often don't have the time to slow down and savor those moments. I need to work on that and quit striving to be that "perfect" mom.

samantha said...

Oh how I love your blog!! You are such an amazing person and friend. This was just what I needed to read. I've been struggling with the fact that I have been home now for 4 years. I don't bring any real income into the house and I feel like I'm missing some part of me. Thanks for helping remind me why I stay home.

RLR said...

This post and the one you referenced really speak to a part of my heart that I've been trying to ignore lately. I have been struggling with feeling useful and intelligent - thanks for putting the words out there to capture what I have been feeling. Thanks, too, for being so transparent about your struggle and about finally reaching contentment. Certainly the best way to understand that "this too, shall pass" is by learning from the wisdom of other mothers.
Sounds like I need to get a copy of "Not So Fast" for myself. I feel like I'm 'slow' compared to when I worked full-time, but perhaps it's my focus that needs some adjustment (some 5 1/2 years into this mothering gig!)

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

What a beautiful post...and how wonderful to be content after struggling before.

I'm in the struggling phase and its all the more frustrating because being a stay-at-home mom is what I have always wanted to be.

Your post has given me hope.
I'm headed to Amazon right now to check out the book you mention...

He & Me + 3 said...

I knew that I always wanted to be a SAHM, but there are times I get a little restless. I do love it though. I know what you mean about not being ready for a small town. I have been there and then it grows on you. I miss our small town.
Great post. I may have to get that book and read it.

Bradi Nathan said...

I love your story, truly I do. And, while I may envy your ability to stop and smell the roses, for me it feels good to work. It feels good to be fulfilled both professionally and personally. I launched many entrepreneurial ventures as a stay-at-home mom because, in my case, berry picking wasn't enough.
I admire you for finding what truly makes you happy because so many mothers haven't quite figured that out yet. We are all very different, but good mothers nonetheless.
Bradi, Co-Founder, MyWorkButterfly.com

Elaine A. said...

I loved reading this. The town we moved to is much smaller and goes at a slower pace and although I find it still hard to get used to, I think it will be good for us as family.

I worked with my first and feel like I missed out on some things but at the time it's what I HAD to do, for several reasons. I am SO very glad that my husband's job affords for me to be home now... it really is a blessing if that is what works out for your family...

Now I just wish I had some blackberry bushes near me like you do! : )

Jane Anne said...

Bradi, I can't find an email address for you and I don't know if you will stop back by. Anyway- I thought I'd share this comment with everyone.

For me, it isn't about my position as a stay-at-home mom being what I truly love. What I have finally figured out is that I can be content whether I am working outside the home or not. I might go back to work one day. I enjoyed working. I have finally reconciled my internal struggle and found peace with the place I am in life. It has everything to do with my faith in God and very little to do with my job. If I hadn't found this peace, I could have been just as unhappy working- if that makes sense.

I agree that being a good mom isn't determined by whether or not you work outside the home or stay at home with your kids.

And, I love all of these comments. They touch my heart.