Some women are born mothers. They know from an early age that they want children. That they want to care for children. That they want children to want them, love them, rely on them, and be the center of their universe. They understand—from some place deep inside—the uniqueness of each child and the joy that comes from holding a little hand in their own.
I’m not one of those women. I didn’t seriously think about having children until I was 27or 28. When my partner and I decided to start trying we were both of the mindset that if it happened, it happened. If it didn’t, it didn’t. (Thankfully we had no trouble conceiving and didn’t have to put this attitude to the test). My reasons behind having children were not necessarily admirable. In fact, they were downright selfish. There were three: 1) I wanted someone to take care of me when I was old; 2) I thought that having children would make me a better person; and 3) I didn’t want to regret not having them. With those goals in mind, I had two children. The first at 30 and the second at 34.
Once I became a parent, I faced a huge internal culture shock, especially after the birth of my second child and my decision to become astay-at-home mom (SAHM). I fought my inner urge to fully embrace motherhood. As much as I espoused gratitude and admiration for SAHMs and verbally pronounced it the most important job in the world, I didn’t really believe it. I was always told I could be whatever I wanted when I grew up. But I never seriously thought that I would be a SAHM. That’s what other women did. I had a great career in the conservation movement. I did things that benefitted all of womankind.
Then something shifted. It wasn’t so much that I felt I had to be there for them as a SAHM, but that I needed to be there for myself. The rhythm of our family didn’t work with two working parents. My rhythm didn’t work with two working parents. These feelings coupled with the high price of two kids in day care; the desire not to repeat the cycle of daycare caused sickness that we’d experienced with our first child; and a strong desire to live a sustainable, well-nourished life made becoming a SAHM the only real option.
Throughout this process, I’ve known internally that I wasn’t the only woman facing these questions and insecurities. It has often, however, felt like it. In the past few weeks I’ve finally come across some writing that addresses these concerns. It’s so refreshing. The most recent is an article published in the New York Times Magazine, entitled, “The Femivore’s Dilemma.” (Found via The Artful Parent.) The article discusses the resurgence in traditional, back-to-basics homemaking. Most women need something in their lives besides raising kids. And a number of women are foregoing a career outside of the home for a more agrarian lifestyle and are finding it just as satisfying.
After making my decision to stay home, I faced months—a good year, in fact—of self doubt. I didn’t respect myself. I was ashamed to admit that I was a SAHM. I knew I needed something else in my life. Yoga teacher training helped. Writing is starting to help. And gosh darn it, making bread from scratch, cultivating our backyard garden, sewing clothes, and looking at chicken coop plans is helping a bit, too.
Being a mom is not my life purpose. Being a happy, caring, member of society that responds appropriately to the changes that are the only sure thing in life—is my life purpose. I chose to have kids. I chose to marry someone who will always make more money that I will (if I were to work outside of the home). I love to knit and sew and cook and garden and other things domestic. It is my purpose to take what I have and find peace with it. To grow from it and with it.