Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Staying Home

Okay, I said that I was still going to post this and I am. Honestly, the majority of it was written over a week ago, but I wanted to take some more time and think through it. Really, I had a MUCH better week last week and this week has started off great, too. I just feel like this has always been a place where I shared my thoughts and I want to stay true to that. Also, this has been an ongoing struggle for me, and it's always very cathartic for me to just kind of examine my feelings about things here.

I have heard Oprah say that being a stay at home mom is the hardest job in the world. I'd have to disagree with her. I know Ann Peyton is still very young and is a very low maintenance child, but there is no way I would tell anyone this is the hardest job in the world. The most important? Maybe. The most fulfilling? Absolutely. But the hardest? Definitely not. Student teaching was far and away a hundred times harder and I don't really think that was the hardest job, either.

A teacher called me recently to sub for her at Saint Andrew's in a few weeks for three days in a row. It worked out really well, because it is the week Peyton works late, so he will be able to keep Ann Peyton. It will be the most hours I've worked outside the home. Ever.

I'm kind of excited. Kind of nervous. It's fun to use my degree, and I glad subbing is an option for me right now.

It has got me thinking about something, though.....

the value in what I do.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't struggled with this off and on this whole first year of Ann Peyton's life. My mom stayed home with us and it was always something I wanted to do and planned on doing when I had children.

Peyton, on the other hand, told me years ago when we were still only friends "My wife WILL work". Ha! I gave him a piece of my mind about that. He came around a long time ago, though, and we came to an agreement before we were even married that I would stay home once we had babies.

Some days, though, I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know why I do it. That's not to say that I don't know deep down that it is worth any sacrifice we have ever made.

It's just that some days, I feel guilty. Like I let the day go by without really carving out enough time for my primarily responsibility of this job. Of course, her need's are always met. Of course, I love on her and talk to ever single day. But sometimes, I feel like I spend too much time doing other things and I don't interact with her as much as I should. I know that many days I am not working as hard as Peyton is at his job.

I never did this because it was something I wanted to do. It was, but that isn't primarily why I chose it. I chose it because I thought it was in her best interest; that she would be better served by my staying home with her full time.

I don't know why I am doubting it, now. Part of it is that it is in my nature to overthink things and I just tend to struggle with guilt. Part of it is her age. She is at an age where she doesn't need the constant care a newborn requires but she can't do "projects" the way a preschooler can. It is hard for me to know exactly what I should be doing with her. [Ideas, moms?]. We read and we sing. And I talk to her a TON. But what else? I feel like there is more I should be doing. And then, part of it is the fact that Ann Peyton is Ann Peyton. She is a very laid back baby who naps easily and plays well independently. I think I'd have less guilt if she required more out of me. Part of it is the culture; I think in general, this is not a job that is highly valued by our society, anymore. And part of it is just a natural response to any job. I know Peyton questions why he does what he does all the time.

Anyway, it felt good to put it all out there.

I'll have some more fluff in the coming days. I'm really looking froward to sharing an *all-time* favorite book tomorrow and there is going to be a super fun post that I copied from Sarah and Ashley (or rather, Todd and Kurt) up sometime soon. Y'all (with the exception of Ashley and Carrie) are going to be really surprised at what a crackpot Peyton is, or maybe I've successfully conveyed that already....haha, just kidding!


Ashley said...


Well, first and foremost, you know I love you, so none of this is written to de-value your feelings (or mothers who work). These are just my thoughts:

-I personally do not wish that a daycare center watch my baby's most formative years and moments.

-My home is better kept and tended to when I am home.

-Children are very aware of who is taking care of them. I believe there's stability in being with your children full time, if it's possible.

-The value in what we do is starting to nurture, love, teach, and form these little souls from their first moments.

-There's nothing wrong with letting your child have independent time. I don't sit and entertain Evy all day. Along with being a mom, I'm a homemaker. I have projects, I straighten, I clean, I manage things. It's multi-faceted, and it's okay if your baby isn't getting 100% of the attention all day; in fact, it's better to let them learn to play by themselves for a little bit.

Again, I do not say any of this in disrespect of you! I just feel very strongly about my decision, and if I get the chance to share some of my reasons, I do. We'll talk :)

Sarah Broadus said...

finger painting. You would be surprised at how much babies AP's age love to stick their hands in paint and put it on poster board. I have mini canvases that both of my girls did at a very young age. It is a "project" but not in a big girl sense. I teach my teachers to never look at an age as an issue. Nobody is ever too young to stick their hand in paint and pat, rub, splatter away. =)

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Mary Louis Quinn said...

One thing that I love about your blog is that you are always honest! I appreciate that so much! I think there is always doubt (well, for most people) in major decisions like what to do with your life, or how to take care of your child, etc. None of us are perfect, and it is completely natural to wonder what your life would be like if you chose a different path. Since I HAVE to work, I often have guilt that I CAN'T be home with my child (although since I'm part time, I am home with her two days during the week). It's actually been something I've been struggling with a lot lately. But unfortunately right now in life, I don't have a choice. And I think my husband has a lot of guilt that he can't give me what I want: to stay at home with Curran.

That being said, I do not think she is suffering by having to go to daycare 3 days a week. They love her and nuture her there, and she is always so happy to see her teachers each morning. I know she will thrive by being in an environment that has scheduled acitivites and will benefit from a curriculum geared toward her developmental age. And I think the socialization aspect of being in daycare/school is priceless. Not that there's anything wrong with kids who are raised by a SAHM (my mom stayed home with us, but she had us in "Tiny Tots" at Covenant starting when we about two), but I think there are pros and cons to both situations. I don't have her in school because I don't want to take care of her myself, obviously. It's a necessity.

I will go out on a limb to say that most (I know not all, but I would think most) working moms would love to be home with their kids if at all possible, so for anyone to think that they "choose" to work and be away from their child is just ludacrous. To insinuate that one would chose a career, salary, title, etc over staying at home is just plain insulting, to me anyway. I think a lot of SAHM's make the mistake of thinking that (not you, obviously), and I'm not sure why.

Like I was saying earlier, I think it's only natural to question your role in life. Especially since you are so young, and your career ended (through no fault of your own, of course) just as soon as it was starting. Sometimes I think
I will feel guilty when I am able to stay home with my kids for not using my (expensive) degrees I worked so hard for. But I have worked my whole 20's and probably will into my early 30's, so I don't think I'll feel too guilty! :) And I think it's great that you get to do MMO and sub at St. Andrews's---that allows for a flexible schedule and you get the best of both worlds: being home with AP while still getting out and doing what you love and were trained to do (teaching).

And I can't imagine having to plan activities to fill up the day at home! C is not an easy baby and requires a lot of attention, but I know that will always not be the case, so I try to just enjoy the time I get with her and not worry about the household stuff as much.

Maybe I should just write a blog about this instead of filling up your comment section! :) You can tell it's something I feel strongly about. I hope this doesn't come off sounding like I disagree with you or anything, because I COMPLETELY understand how you feel (even if I'm not in the exact same situation) and think your feelings are so valid.

Mary Louis Quinn said...

I also should have added that I didn't mean for my comment to be insulting to other SAHMs. I mean, I want to BE one, I wish I was one! I guess I just get (majorly) defensive too easily. :)

Sarah Denley said...

Thanks, friends! Your comments are so helpful.

Sarah- I really appreciate the tip. I'm sure you have tons of them. I'm going to get some paint and crayons this week and see what she does, ha!

Ashley- We've talked, but like I said thank you for being there to remind me of these things and encourage me.

ML- I'm going to be honest (as you know I like to be) and say that I disagree with you to some extent. I KNOW that YOU personally would rather be home with Curran and it's really not an option for you're family, right now. So I hope what I'm about to say doesn't upset you.

I don't know that I would say that's not the case in MOST homes, but I think in MANY families it is not. At least within the people I know who have small children- about half of whom stay home and half work full time. I also have at least one friend that when the time comes to start a family, I know will choose a career, title AND salary over being at home with children.

One of my friends told me that she could not wait to get back to work, that her six week old was so "boring" and that she felt "trapped". Another one complained to me about when she had to keep her toddler in his bedroom by herself for an HOUR because her husband had business clients over. She also told me she HATED to start table food because baby food was so much easier. It really hurt my feelings. I keep Ann Peyton by myself all day and I feed her almost every meal, so I was like really, please don't complain to me about all this (I know I already said she was really low maintenaince, but still!)

These moms (and others) are really HAPPY to be away from their children all day, I think. The majority of my college friends have no interest in staying home with their children full time when they have them (I know that could change, but I don't foresee it). I could tell you more, but I won't (unless you want to e-mail me, then I will). I was shocked when my mom told me that some women do not want to be around their children all day, but I've seen it first hand. I used really look down on that but now I realize these children are probably better served by a loving day care worker than a mom who resents spending her entire day with them. I hope that those mommas are able to come home and really relish the time they do have with their babies.

Also, I am NOT judging your situation (I KNOW this is not you), but I know several families that would be able to be in our position if they were willing to sacrifice their lifestyle a little bit, as in not have a *huge* house, fancy cars, ect. It's just not a priority to them.

I wrote a novel, now, in my own comments. Just wanted to share a different POV.

Mary Louis Quinn said...

SD, I guess you're right in that there are a number of women who would rather work than be at home. I should not generalize. (As I've blogged before, my mother-in-law is one of them, and she did a fantastic job of raising her boys while working at the same time, and she chose to work). I guess in my circle of friends and coworkers, I am surrounded more by women who would rather be at home and can't. And it might be an age thing...most of my friends are around 30, or a little older, and have worked for a while. Maybe we're all just burned out. :) And I think it's a little bit of "the grass is always greener..." In part of my guilt about having to work, I do go through those questions in my mind of, "well maybe if we cut out this or that, then I would be able to stay home." But honestly, we would be on the street if I didn't work! :) The cost of living in Bham is just redic (even my dad was shocked). And I totally understand women wanting to work outside the home, and I don't judge people for that (despite how my first comment may have sounded). I guess my point was to say that not ALL working moms do it because they WANT to. Anyway, that is enough commenting for one day! I didn't mean to stir the pot! :)