Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Staying Home

Okay, I published this under Peyton's name and even though it's obvious that it is me I'm OCD so I had to republish. I couldn't figure out a way to just change it and I didn't want to delete the old one because I already got two (very helpful) comments on it. Thanks for humoring me.

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!


Heather said...

I've let Mattie Leigh color since she was about 9 months old. There are lots of great products out there now that are good for Ann Peyton's age. I've also tried to make sure Mattie Leigh gets to play musical instruments...she has a child piano that she got for Christmas, but we've had other toys that are musical and have let her play the piano and drums at church since she was just a year old. One of my favorite things to do is to take her for walks or to the store and we point out interesting things we see...doing this has really helped her learn her colors and some shapes and has really helped develop her vocabulary.
I used to feel really guilty for staying at home with Mattie Leigh too. I felt like I wasn't accomplishing as much as I could if I wasn't home all day. It took me a while to realize that I would feel like I was accomplishing more if I'd let myself let Mattie Leigh play by herself while I cleaned more than I had been doing. There is still guilt at time because I feel like I should be using my master's degree more than I am...I just try to remember that the degree will always be there and I'll be able to use it after the kids are in school.

Carrie said...

I could have written this post. It's not that I wonder whether me being home with Aubrey is the best thing for her, but whether I'm doing the best job staying home that I can. I feel like it is really easy to become lazy when you stay home, and this is something I have to fight against everyday. Aubrey is also a really good independent player (which I love) but it's tempting just to let her entertain herself for as long as she will. I need to find more time to actually play with her. I don't want to look back when she is grown and wish I had played with her more.

Nathalie said...

Hi Sarah Denley,

You could check out this website:

I signed up (it's free, of course!) and every day they send me an email with an age-appropriate activity for my little girl! Some of the activities are pretty simple (e.g. read your child a book today), but I've also gotten some fun ideas and it's nice to get a new one every day.

Hope that helps!

Christy said...

I would take Laura Grace to the park (it was summer when she was AP's age), we would sing together, work on puzzles, build with blocks, read books, watch movies, go to story time at the library, color (I am with Heather I bought fat crayons and finger paints when LG was around 10 months old).

I was in school when LG was a baby so I was very thankful that she easily amused herself. However, then I had Layton and he was a different baby. He needed more on on one time. Oh, and so did LG once she got older.

Right now AP is just an easy baby. Soon she will walk and talk and it will be not only easier to spend your entire day playing, teaching, mothering but more necessary because she will be into everything and wanting your attention more. She will make more messes for one thing and you will be forever cleaning!

I can remember the mommy guilt I had when Laura Grace was very little. I over analyzed everything I did and tore myself a part. I think that the older I have gotten and now that I have two more children I must not have the time or energy to worry to much!

I personally think it is great that AP is independent and secure. That is very healthy :)

Sarah Denley said...

Wow! Thanks for all the comments and helpful suggestions. Heather, Christy, (and Sarah from the first post)y'all had some GREAT ideas! And Nathalie, I am signing up for that website TODAY; it is exactly what I was looking for. I have tons of activity books, but they are all geared toward toddlers at the youngest. That's perfect!

Carrie, thank you so much for your support. I was a tiny bit worried you and Ash would think "wow, she is horrible to question that". It's like you said, I know that it is important, but am I doing my personal best? And, it's like I said I think as she gets older and NEEDS more interaction I will feel less this way. Or maybe I'll just "borrow" Aubrey from you for a few afternoons this July and see what it's like to have two, ha!