So today I had to Google how to use the Pampered Chef can opener. I am at a friend’s house watching her dog, so she is not home, and it is not your standard can opener. I tried several other avenues before succumbing to the Google, including stabbing the top (see below), cutting it with some super sharp kitchen scissors, and complaining to my husband. Finally, I Googled, I YouTubed, and I conquered. And this got me thinking: what makes me think I’m going to be a good stay-at-home mom when I was bested by a non-electronic, hand-held kitchen device?
Ever see yourself from the outside looking in on a particular situation or conversation that you’re actually in, almost an out-of-body experience but not so creepy?
That’s what it’s like for me every time I have a conversation about being a stay-at-home mom. I am not yet one. Seven years ago, I was convinced you couldn’t pay me to be a stay-at-home mom. I thought I would go absolutely crazy, that I would fail miserably at it, and that I would go absolutely crazy being stuck at home every day with a little person who could barely coo, let alone converse. Fast forward to now, when I get bummed out leaving my dog for the day. I imagine a kid will be a little harder to leave, thus spurring the conversations with my friends, some of whom are stay-at-home moms, some of whom work part-time, and some of whom are in the same boat as me: DINKs. (Succumb to the Google if you don’t know that term).
There are so many ways to go about this experience of being a stay-at-home mom. Assuming I’m going to have the choice whether or not to be one, there are some tried-and-true lessons my friends are currently learning that I really, really hope I can take with me. We don’t all have to learn the hard way. Someone once said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Not that my friends are making huge mistakes, but I want to set my mindset to a certain place before a kid is even in the picture. Such as…
1. Give yourself grace in the moment. Some days, especially in the beginning, you’re just not going to be able to start dinner on time. Some days, you won’t even get to dinner. It will be a take-out kind of night, and that is okay. You spent your day taking care of little people and trying to make sure they grow up to be healthy contributing members of society. That is important, and the significance of what you’re doing can overshadow making dinner once in a while. Maintain your sense of control, but also change your definition of ‘control’. Maybe you didn’t start dinner on time, but your child is healthy and happy because you took care of her and played with her tons today.
2. Do what is right for you and your family. Leave the comparisons to the Perfect Pinterest Mommy online and go about your business. Plus, what the kids don’t know won’t hurt ’em, meaning your children will love your Pinterest fail no matter what.
3. You will face criticism for one thing or another, at any given time, about your mothering skills. Be it your decision to stay home, work, cook 7 nights a week, breast vs. bottle, organic vs. mainstream, GMO vs. non-GMO, vaccinate vs. non-vaccinate, pet vs. no pet, music on in the background vs. silence, TV vs. no TV, etc. etc. etc. This is probably my number one stressor as a someday-to-be mother: all of the opinions I will gather by simply stating, “Yes, I have a son/daughter.” It’s not that I don’t want to hear what works for others, but I don’t want anything pushed on me like it’s the only right way. You do your thing, I’ll do mine, and we’ll see you at playgroup!
4. Talk to people when you’re struggling; don’t keep your story and your life to yourself. Find people with whom you feel safe, ones who have earned the right to hear your struggles and share your life. Open up to them. Let them pray for you, pray with you, and just overall help you through it.
5. Parenting will not always be comfortable. It is unwise to make parenting choices based on what you feel is comfortable. What seems wise is to make parenting choices based on the investment: what kind of child do you want to unleash onto the world in a few years? What kind of Society Member do you want representing your family?
The end of Cheaper By the Dozen (the Steve Martin/Bonnie Hunt version) goes like this: “When we started we had a whole bunch of parenting theories. Now we have none.” I am sure some of my ideas of parenting will be blown out of the water in the first five days. But from watching others, I know that if I at least do these few things, I will be headed in the right direction. I’ll be doing my best to raise a little person into a big person who loves God, treats others well, has a healthy, positive outlook on life, plays goalie for the Buffalo Sabres, then shortstop for the New York Yankees, is a hard-working member of society, and overall genius baby.
Too far there? 😉
Mainly, I want to be intentional in helping the one in my charge to become the best possible version of him- or herself, because if that child was created, that child has a purpose. My job is to set that child up the very best that I possibly can so he/she can find his/her purpose. Maybe those five things are a step in the right direction? And use Google. Definitely use Google.
What do you think? Whether you’re a parent or not, I’d love to hear your thoughts!