The old adage, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” is almost always true. You will usually be able to find some sort of negative with your life, your job, your appearance, your family. Everyone struggles with this at some point. Scrutinizing everything I have and do has never been truer for me than at this stage of my life as a stay-at-home-mom. The day after day routine of constantly catering to everyone else’s needs before mine has made me look at the grass on the other side with envy. I see the grass on the other side as a deep, brilliant green interspersed with colorful yellow and white flowers. There are birds singing, and there is a vast expanse of deep blue sky and puffy white clouds above—and there is a man selling hot fresh churros right in the middle of the lawn.
The truth is, there’s good and bad in most every choice we make. It’s not going to be all roses when you stay at home with your kids, but it’s not always going to be easy to be a working mom, either. Life is just plain hard. It’s hard for everyone in different ways. The stay-at-home mom, like myself, has daydreamed about what life would be like if she did work, and the working mom has daydreamed about being at home with her children. Staying at home with my kids is a personal choice I have made, but it has not come without sacrifices. Let me explain.
I have two beautiful children, ages 5 and 3. When my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the first time, there was never any discussion about whether or not I would stay home with the baby. At the time, it was not ideal to be pregnant. We were had no misconceptions about what it took to become pregnant, so we were not entirely surprised when we got the two little lines on the stick; however, it was not planned very accurately. I was working on my teaching credential and master’s, and after calculating my due date, discovered it was exactly smack dab in the middle of my planned twelve-week student teaching block. Being right in the middle of that, I was not allowed to start student teaching, and therefore would have to wait to be given my degree and certification.
But being a student and working two small part time jobs made the decision to not work after having our daughter easier, since I was not a big income producer. Thankfully, with my husband’s job we would be okay financially, at least in the beginning—so we decided I wouldn’t work. I don’t really remember having a conversation about it. It was just there; it was just assumed I would stay home. I’m not bitter or regretful about that time in our life and that decision, because it was right for us. Our situation was such that it just made perfect sense and we didn’t really have to talk about it. But I do know that this kind of decision can be a big deal and something many families struggle with.
Being a one-income family can be a burden. We’re constantly under the strain of managing our money so we get the most out of every paycheck. We don’t go on very many vacations and we don’t always have the funds to buy all organic produce. Things would be easier with two incomes, but we made the decision that was best for us, and that was me staying home.
There are more personal sacrifices I’ve made too. My days at home are filled with my children’s smiles and laughter, but they are also filled with isolation, stress, and struggles. While what I do is important in a very fundamental way, it’s also not mentally stimulating and challenging for me. The kids test my patience, my multitasking skills, and my time management efforts, but the hours I spent in the education department at college and practical hours I spent working on my credential are null and void at home.
Often I feel I traded my identity as an individual with my identity as a stay-at-home mom. I would be a mom whether working or not, but by not working outside the home, I have given up that part of individuality and separation from my kids. My life today is not separate from the lives of my children.
In truth, most days my kids have dirt under their nails, the house has inches of dust everywhere, and I judge the success of the day on the basis of us all being able to take hot showers. Most days I feel frantic, stressed, underappreciated (mostly by myself), and I have to remind myself, while sitting over a glass of wine after the kids are in bed, that it will all be okay and the small stuff doesn’t matter. It’s also true that each day, for good or bad, I get to spend every moment with my beautiful, funny, courageous kids. I get to have a laugh with them when the dog runs after a fly. I get to hear their laugh and their cries, and be there for every moment. I’ve gotten to be there for each and every milestone they’ve had.
At this point in my life, after being a stay-at-home mom for 6 years, I know that each decision we make will have ups and downs. There’s no clear right or wrong, winner or loser, when deciding to work in your home or work outside your home. The option to stay home and be with my kids all day long is sure nice, but it’s also a whole heck of a lot work and sacrifice.
The grass is always greener on the other side, but that’s the world telling us so. God doesn’t want us to believe that we can always have something better. He wants us to stop and listen to His voice when the world tells us we’re inadequate and to believe that through Him we can find peace and strength in the midst of big struggles and every day walks. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom like me or a working mom, we’re all connected through God and His plan for us. Recently, He has been showing me we just need to stop and listen to Him wherever we are in life. His voice, His joy, and His goodness will flow through us whether at work or at home and bring us peace if we only stop and listen to Him.
To read the blog written from the perspective of a mom who works outside the ome, click here.
Sarah is a wife, mother, and freelance writer. After spending a few years in the education field, she became a stay-at-home mom and now she spends her days trying to keep up with her two crazy, fun, smart, energetic kids. Every spare moment she dedicates to reading and writing, two of her greatest passions.