Last month, my youngest son sat beside me and asked, “Mommy, did you give up a lot of your dreams to stay home with us?” I don’t remember my exact response. I know I gave him a big hug and told him he was, and is, worth it. Same thing is true with his brother. And I would do it all over again, if I had to. No regrets, just lessons learned and memories made.
I suppose it is true, anything worth doing should be given the best possible effort. It doesn’t mean it’ll be perfect. It just means you’ll put your heart and soul into it.
So I’ve said it over and over again, staying home to raise my boys remains the hardest thing I have ever done.
Harder than graduating from UPLB four months late because of my research paper.
Or parallel parking within two minutes and passing that stupid driving test.
Or taking care of a four-year-old and a newborn all while trying to heal from a c-section.
And even though I know it was the right decision for our family [but not for everybody], and that I would make the same choice all over again [even knowing what I know now], nothing changes the fact that it’s a lonely and tough and almost-mind-numbing experience that crested with sticky sweet kisses from my sons and nose-dived with endless reruns of Barney. And other people’s unsolicited opinions.
So as I’m wrapping up those years, and trying to fill in the hours made empty because the boys don’t need me as much anymore, I thought I should look back and list the top reactions people had to me being a stay-at-home mom. [Pretty sure these aren’t unique!] And yes, I know most people mean well. So I’m only listing the ones that were so obviously dripping with condescension and served up with artificial sweeteners.
“You’re a hero! What you’re doing is so noble.”
-Roll eyes. Seriously, I don’t need others to reassure me of that. Does anybody ever feel the need to rush and assure a doctor his job is important? I rest my case.
“You’re a stay-at-home-mom? Oh but I heard you graduated from so-and-so and did this and that.”
– Yea, and I also stay home. Period.
“I can’t imagine how you can do it! I’d be sooo bored to death!”
– Yup! Just yesterday one of the boys got an eraser stuck up his nose and the other one just learned to read. Definitely boring. Nothing like putting out a hundred little emergencies going off at the same time.
“You’re lucky? I’d love to stay home all day!”
-I know! Please don’t tell my husband I do nothing all day.
“Your husband must make a lot of money. You can’t possibly afford to do this otherwise.”
-Yup! That’s why we drive old cars and live on a budget.
“I could never do that!”
-Tsk tsk. Never is such an obstinate word.
“You’re wasting your life. Or your brain. Or something.”
-I’m pretty sure my children agree with you.
“Oh, but surely you have other interests?”
-Um, no, because choosing to stay home means giving up the right to have other interests apart from the home.
I keep making unpopular choices. And here’s what I learned: make sure your sense of humor is up to it. And when even that fails, a dose of sarcasm will keep your head from exploding. Here’s hoping I take this with me to the next chapter unfolding…