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[Guest Post] 21st Century Motherhood: Staying at Home and Loving It

Monday, May 2, 2011

This post is part of my Mother's Day series celebrating 21st Century Moms. Please support these guest bloggers by leaving some thoughtful comments.

Staying Home and Loving It

By Alexia Sims: mama, wife, blogger and lover of all things bacon

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Cedella I was so incredibly shocked and scared that I honestly didn't think I was ready. I was 30 and had only been married for two months to my husband Michael. There were so many things I still wanted to do. I wanted to write a script and produce a film. I wanted to own a home and have a job with benefits. I wanted to travel the world with my husband. And I knew, cause we had already discussed it, that I would be leaving my job to stay home when we did start a family.

That's what scared me to my core when those two pink lines appeared on that expensive piece of plastic. What would I do without work? Who would I talk to? Could I survive without my mom's help? More than anything I feared I wouldn't be able to cut it in my new position. That I would end up being a mom, like my own, with children raised by babysitters and latch key. And in spite of all my fears, that was the last thing I wanted.

Yep, I said it. I wanted to be a different mother than my own mother. I absolutely adore my mother and think she did the best she could in raising us. But it is the 21st century. Â Thanks to our mothers and all their hard work breaking through the glass ceiling, we have choices, and we can have a family or a career or both or neither. Michael and I, both raised by primarily by sitters, wanted all the moments, milestones and all the firsts to be with us not strangers. For me to be able to stay home and raise our children was a privilege we valued above all.

Our parent's had Master's degrees, big old houses in the suburbs, car payments and retirement funds. All things we're supposed to want. In our first few months of being engaged we talked about how little those things mattered if we weren't able to be watch our kids grow up cause we were too busy acquiring stuff. We agreed that we'd rather have less, live in a cheaper home, share a car and move away from my hometown and family to take over my husband's family business. All in the desire for me to be a Stay At Home Mom.

A mere 10 days after my darling daughter was born, the fanfare and visits had died down, my husband went back to work and my new career began. With no training, no manual, no idea what was going to happen, I became a Stay At Home Mom (or SAHM). Quickly our days were filled with dirty diapers, constant breastfeeding, laundry and soap operas (don't even get me started on the cancellation of AMC and OLTL). I felt I had no friends near by and my mother and sister were too far to be with me very often. Days would go by and without talking to anyone but Michael. It was a steep learning curve and it was the epitome of loneliness.

But no matter how lonely I was I would look down into the face of my perfect and healthy child and know that there was nothing more important than the job I was doing. So like I've done at any other job I've ever had, I decided to be the best damn Stay At Home Mom I could be. I threw myself into my work and my child as if I was aiming for a promotion. But let's be honest. It's rare to have a day off. You're constantly on call. You work an average of 1 billion hours a week and even do laundry while on vacation. But the reward for endless hours of reading Goodnight Moon, watching Elmo and constantly having either spit-up or snot on my shirt? A really good baby.

But what got me out of the SAHM blues? First I found blogging, which totally and completely saved my sanity and made me feel like I wasn't alone in trying to figure out my new role. Writing everything down was incredibly cathartic. Blogs helped with everything from breastfeeding issues and cloth diapering to marriage woes. It continues to be a really large part of why I love staying at home. And who knows, maybe someday blogging will be a job? That would be so amazing.

Next I tried something really revolutionary. I got out of the house! Spending time with friends with kids and making new friends, Cedella and I flourished and came into our own grooves. I could talk to adults without having cocktails? Really? Realizing there were other ladies that I know and enjoy, going through what I'm going through every day? A revelation. Sadly, our soap operas have taken a serious back seat to play dates, library visits and snow shoeing. That's right snow shoeing.

If there's one thing about being a SAHM that I've come to love it's that your job is constantly changing. Every day is an adventure! She learns something new, says a new word or discovers something, every single day. Even the most rigidly scheduled SAHM has days where the proverbial sh*t hits the fan and voila! Whole new job! Today you will be a carpet cleaner! Tomorrow a pirate! Next week? Elmo impersonator. There's never a dull moment, though there are entire days where pajamas are completely acceptable. Take that Corporate America!

I know many amazing mothers, including my own, that work full time and still hold it down at home. And I commend them for doing so. They are much more brave and altruistic than me. I really need to work on taking more time for myself, making time for my blog and fixing my marriage. But while I'm working on all that, I can sleep well, for at least 3 or 4 hours at a stretch, knowing that I won't miss a moment of my little one's amazing life. And that friends, is totally worth it.

Alexia grew up in a multi-racial household in Detroit, full of dance parties and library books, all the while dreaming of all the brown babies she would have one day. 30 something years later, after making movies, seeing a bit of the world and falling in love with a musician, she is a SAHM to a vivacious 15 month old diva named Cedella and pours out thoughts on motherhood and plenty of cute pictures at Babies & Bacon.


Kim said...

We're lucky here in Canada to get a full year of maternity. It's not realistic for a lot of us to stay home after that - in our household we couldn't survive on one income. I think it's great that you can stay home with your daughter and that you've found a good way to make it work.

Help! Mama Remote... said...

I think that's great how everything you & your husband talked about, you stuck to your word.

Alexia said...

Thanks ladies! I'm very fortunate to have such an understanding and helpful husband. For now his salary from work is enough for us, guess we'll see what happens when we have more kids! Best decision we've ever made though!

kim said...

Excellent. I love that you LOVE being a SAHM. I, too, adore it, even when I don't adore it. So many women stay at home and frown on it. It's hard and weird and you said it so well. One of my favorite posts on this!!

Lee-Ann said...

I wish I could stay home. I'm in Canada as well & loved being home that first year with my baby's but I want to still be home so I can help them with homework after school and such. I am lucky that I work shift work so my kids don't spent a lot of time at a sitter, they spend a lot of time with their Dad, which is great for them. I am hoping over the next year I can pay off some bills & maybe get down to working part time. :)

Alicia said...

Thanks for your honesty in this post. Sometimes people don't talk about things like this b/c it's so taboo. There is definitely a learning curve when going from working mom to SAHM, no matter how old you are. For me it was 23, for you it was 30.

Alexia said...

Thanks for the wonderful comments everyone! It is nice to know that there are others out there that enjoy being SAHMs even when it's challenging.

I think the important part, even when you do have to work, like Lee-Ann and Kim, is to make it work so you have as much time with your children as possible.

Glad I could share my thoughts and that they were so well received.

Maureensk said...

I felt the same when I became a mom. Before my son was born, I assumed I would work. The minute he was born, I realized that I didn't want someone else raising my kids.

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