6 years ago I was an idealistic 22 year old, who thought marriage would be the greatest never-ending sleepover in the world. I thought I would be a great wife and that my husband and I would sail off blissfully into our very successful future as husband and wife.
It has been the greatest adventure, greatest challenge, greatest growth and greatest giant piece of humble-pie. In addition to the challenge of marriage, life has gotten really hard at times and this has put even more pressure on our marriage.
We have so far to go and by no means feel like we've "figured it out", but there are some principles and ways of doing things that have proven to be helpful to us. I have to remind myself of these truths daily, as we live in a world where good marriages are hard to find and the track record isn't very reassuring. As we all know, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Somehow we need to change our thinking, ways of doing things and the examples we follow if we are going to have marriages that not only work, but thrive.
Here are some things marriage has taught me...
I may have painted marriage as only a lot of hard work, but I believe it comes down to perspective. Whatever you approach negatively, will be significantly harder for you.
A growth mindset means approaching everything in life as an opportunity to grow and learn. There is no failure with a growth mindset.
Tackle the challenge of marriage with this in mind, and you will be a much better spouse and your marriage will grow and become sweeter over time.
"So what DO you do all day? It must be so nice being at home all day!"
I have so many responses going through my mind like, "You know that magical place you drop your kids off in the morning? Well..." or "what do you think stay-at-home moms really do all day?"
The truth is, whether you're a working mom or a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), being a mom is hard. Each group envies the other. Isn't that what we always do though - think the grass is greener on the other side? When in reality, the grass is just a different shade of green.
So a bit of background: I worked full-time as an administrator at a pre-school. I LOVED my job - it was challenging, interesting, filled with interactions with people and it gave me the world of confidence as it was the first job I had that fit me like a glove. I resigned as it was a full-time position, and I really wanted to work half-day - I couldn't picture myself working such long days and still coping with the demands of motherhood, marriage and life in general. We then decided to take the plunge and make the financial sacrifice for me to become a SAHM. On paper, we needed my salary, not having much wiggle room in our budget for anything that wasn't a need. Thankfully in our case, the tax benefits for my husband starting his own business did help fill some of the holes.
I worked a notice period of 5 weeks and had a bit of a taste of what being a working mom would have been like. (It was actually helpful to see that I probably wouldn't have coped)
I see it as a huge privilege to be able to be at home with Eli, as I know so many moms who would give anything to be with their babies all day. I love that I get to see every little bit of his development, I don't have pressure to rush or be anywhere and I have space for creativity and dreaming at home.
I am sharing my difficulties, not to complain and be negative, but to empathize with other stay at home moms. It is not an easy choice.
I have the greatest respect for moms who work full-time, go home and still look after their kids, husbands and home. It is something I don't believe I had the capacity for, and I personally believe it is harder than what I am doing now.
But anyway, here's why being a SAHM mom has been one my greatest challenges yet:
Being a SAHM is challenging, but the greatest privilege and sadly a rare opportunity for a mother in today's world. If you are a working mom reading this - you are a hero in my eyes! Your kids will be OK and no matter how they are raised, you will be the best version of a mom they know. All kids need is love and security. Don't entertain guilt - embrace the time you DO have with your kids.
So if you're in a place where you have to make a choice whether or not to work, here are some things to consider and questions I asked myself:
(Again, I have to stress, that the following is NOT aimed at moms who have no choice but to work)
If you do decide that being a SAHM is not for you - it's ok! Everyone is different and you don't need to feel guilty. Like I've reiterated several times, all kids really need is love and security.
What a great responsibility but privilege motherhood is!