Earlier this month, I attended the wedding of my childhood best friend. We’ve been friends since we were in first grade. She might as well be my sister after we have been through as friends. I was honored to be a member of her bridal party. The wedding was a child-free event, so my husband and I left all four of our boys with my aunt for the four days and took our first real childless trip. I have never been away from my children longer than one to one and a half days. Almost all the occasions that I have been away from my boys have been hospital stays- such as when I had my spinal fusion, and Mark always brought the boys to see me. So I had pretty much had never been away from my children. However, the boys did fantastically, even our youngest William, who is three did great. I honestly was worried about how he would do because he doesn’t like me going to the store without him. Mark and I had a wonderful time. We had the chance to reconnect as a couple outside of our identity as parents. The wedding was wonderful. I had the opportunity to see tons of old friends, who I haven’t seen since I graduated high school.
Interestingly enough, I was pretty much the only mother there in my age group. Of the bridal party, there was only one other mom. The majority of the bridal party, the bride, and most of the friends of the bride and groom had no children. I knew this when I was preparing for the wedding, and it caused me to have what I can only call an identity crisis.
Up until the weeks leading up to the wedding, I have never felt bad about being a stay at home mom. For as long as I can remember I had wanted to be a stay at home mom, even when I was a kid myself I knew that ultimately I wanted to have a family. I got married young. We started our family right away. We chose to have a larger than average family. We decided as a couple that I would be a stay at home mom- a homeschooling one at that. Never once have I felt ashamed of that choice or inadequate for being nothing more than a stay at home mom, until I was preparing for my friend’s wedding.
All of a sudden, it didn’t feel like my choice to be a mom was enough. I was about to spend four days with six women, who all worked outside the home. Two of them are nurses. One runs a non-profit. One was a teacher, up until she had her son a year ago. One has traveled the world as a dancer and is now pursuing a career on Broadway. The last one works at the university in our hometown. All these women are doing great things. They are out contributing to society. As I was packing for the trip, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything worthwhile like they are. I don’t bring any income into the home. Some might even say I squandered away my intelligence and college degree. All of a sudden, I wanted to be doing more than just being a stay at home mom. Except, did I want to be doing more or did I merely feel like I should be doing more because of societal standards? I agonized over my clothing choices, not wanting my clothes to shout that I was just a mom. I fretted over what topics I was going to converse about with the other guests.
I spent time post-wedding reflecting on being a stay at home mom versus working outside of the home. Somewhere along the drive home from D.C., I had an epiphany concerning myself and motherhood. I have nothing to be ashamed of. The jobs of the other bridesmaids are no more important than my role as a mother. I am not saying their careers are unimportant; instead, I believe all our jobs are valuable. My children are important; they help to ensure the continuation of society. If I am happy being a mother, why should I feel ashamed? The answer is I shouldn’t. Motherhood isn’t something I accidentally fell into. It isn’t something I chose because I had no other options. I decided it because I wanted to be a mom. For me, there is fulfillment in being a stay at home mom and raising children. I have sacrificed my health to have my children. Each day, I choose to get up and be a hands-on mommy, despite my chronic pain. I force myself to go beyond my pain and be present for my kids. Being a stay at home mother is a worthy choice. It can be easy to fall into the trap of society that tells us motherhood, especially stay at home mothers, have no value. However, this is false. Motherhood is beautiful. My intentional motherhood is a beautiful and valuable thing. It is my life. These photos are a glimpse into what deliberate motherhood looks like in my family. Are you a stay at home mom? Have you ever been made to feel inadequate for being just a stay at home mom? What helps you to remember that your job as a stay at home mother is important and just as valuable as careers outside the home?