I recently attended a 30th birthday party for one of my dearest friends. Besides our anniversary, it was the second time my husband and I had a night out all year. As we sat at a table of strangers (to us), we quickly began discussing our lives with each other to find commonalities and deepen our conversations. We shared everything from how we met, our personal testimonies, our kids, and our careers. My husband is a middle school band teacher of 13 years, and has quite the background of experience, knowledge, and humorous stories to share. The young man across the table from us was a Harvard graduate with an incredible life story; and the young woman across the table from us was an occupational therapist who works with kids on a daily basis.
As the night went on, the moment came to share about my life and career. I have a bachelor’s degree in marketing. I worked as a marketing assistant at Chick-fil-A right out of college, then I was a pretty incredible inside sales associate with CVS Specialty Pharmacy up until having my son. When he was born, I quickly decided that it was time to hang up my career hat and take on being a full-time stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). So, this is my current “career”, I’m a SAHM to 2 littles—Josiah (4) and Melody (2).
Then I heard the following question: “So what do you and your kids like to do?” I don’t know why, but in the moment, the answer to that question left me dumbfounded. It made me think of those college applications that have you list every extra-curricular activity you’ve done in your whole life and tallied up over your 4 years of high school and beyond. It caught me off guard and reminded me of these infamous questions I hear from time to time: “What do you do all day?” “When are you going back to work?” “Are you bored being a SAHM?” Sigh. The truth is, ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of being a mom someday. I wouldn’t trade this life for the world, and I’m certainly in no hurry to return to the work environment of an office atmosphere. The truth is, I know this is a blessing of an opportunity for me, as I know plenty of moms who can’t afford to stay at home with their kids – let alone have little ones in the first place. And the truth is – some days I barely survive, somedays I thrive, and other days I just take in every good moment and learn from the bad.
Motherhood is a 24/7 job with plenty of perks and a cornucopia of hardship, but there is no job more rewarding. So instead of asking the age-old question of “What do you do all day?” to a SAHM, why don’t you try these questions out instead. I promise you, they will be much more empowering and encouraging to her heart.
- “What is something your kid(s) have done recently that made you proud?” Now that is a question I love answering, because it resonates with how my kids are growing and how I’m doing as a mom. I could discuss how my son has really begun maturing with little things like, using the bathroom all by himself or big things like, being brave and making new friends at the playground. This question resonates much more for me because it gives me an opportunity to share how I enjoy my motherhood and illuminate the sweet moments I capture in this “job.”
- “What is something funny your kid(s) have done recently?” Laughter is such good medicine, especially for a momma who doesn’t get out much. I absolutely love sharing silly stories of my kids with others because I not only have plenty of them to share, but it’s good to look back at those good, bad, and (in the moment) crappy situations and laugh at them. Moments like when my daughter uses her toy vacuum to clean up the living room floor (by literally just pushing every toy to the outskirts of the room). Moments like when my son tries to teach his sister how to spell, when she is only 2. And yes, even seasons of motherhood, like the year of “poop-scapades” my son went through before fully potty-training. It helps to look back, cherish and recount those funny memories because it gives perspective to how little ones think and how we have plenty of opportunities to love on them and help them as they grow up.
- “What is something major you’ve learned since becoming a mom?” I realize this is a deep question for any mom to answer, but this question gives me a chance to show how much I have grown as a person since entering into the throngs of motherhood. I’m all about perspective, so sharing what it’s like in my shoes to someone in a different walk of life, gives me a sense of accomplishment. It’s an opportunity to save someone from making the same mistakes I personally made… For instance, conceiving our firstborn took much longer than I ever expected—I had a chemical pregnancy 3 months in, then it took an additional 4 months after that to get pregnant with our son. It was so difficult hearing people ask me when we were going to start a family, because we were trying so hard and had already suffered loss in our journey. Before we decided to start a family, I am certain I asked other couples when they were going to start a family; but after we began our own journey, I would be much more careful with such a question. You never know what someone is going through personally, and if you ask the wrong question, do your best to be kind and caring in your follow-up. Answering a question like this is far more fulfilling to me because it shows how much I have matured in my “career”—the bags under my eyes match the depth my soul has grown these past 4 and a half years (haha-put that on my next resume)!
Being a SAHM is full of many highs and lows. I have several days where I would like to just hit a button and restart. Then I blink and those days have flown so quickly into years. So please – ask me something that will support me as a SAHM. I thrive on encouragement. I don’t have a boss to give me a yearly review of my work; and I don’t get a raise or award when I’ve done my work well. The encouragement I do receive is when my little ones make me proud, when they bring me laughter, and when I look back and see how much I’ve grown since becoming a mom. I have sacrificed so much more of myself than I ever anticipated, but I know this season of continuously teaching and nurturing my children is just that—a season. I don’t know what the next season will entail, but I am going to focus on the here and now and soak it all in.