In September, I return to education. An access course at college to enable me to do Childhood and Youth studies at Uni. It’s exciting, and I can’t wait. But it’s also a little sad, because it officially marks the end of my 12 year reign as a stay at home mum. The last 12 years have been the best of my life. Being at home has enabled me to have a bond with my 3 children that just can’t be matched. College and embarking on a career will bring achievements, but none as big as my achievements, rewards, and sense of self-worth I obtained as a SAHM.
When I embarked on my journey, with my tiny still breastfed 6 month old in arms, my peers who were to return to work sneered a fair bit at my craziness. I was told I would become depressed, I was told that I would become bored, I was told I would have no sense of self-worth, I was told my child would grow up without a good work ethic, I was told it would be a massive financial struggle, I was told my partner would have an affair.... But what I found was whilst some of the above was indeed true, the pros sure outweighed whatever cons life threw at me.
Being at home is a struggle, it can be frustrating, boring, thankless, and out an out lonely at times. People refuse to have respect for you; society will view you as worthless, walked upon, and entirely unexciting. When you have to fill in forms often you will be asked to write down your status as unemployed, because mother is not a recognised occupation.
It’s these occasions where your chosen path can actually start to feel a tiny bit degrading. You will have none of your own money, your clothes will often become practical rather than fashionable, you will have no "me time", sometimes you will go days without a decent adult conversation whilst dingle dangle scarecrow plays in your head on a loop, and the government will constantly try to convince you to "get back to work". Friends will have after work drinks before picking up from the child care; you will collapse on the sofa at 9.30pm after a 5am start with time for a glass of wine if you’re lucky. And you will, at least once a day, question your own sanity.
But, who needs sanity? I will choose over and above it every time sitting on the sofa in the afternoon, reading "we're going on a bear hunt" for the 100th time, to a tiny child who strokes your hair and values you for the person you are. Who needs after work drinks when you can have morning coffee with a group of amazing women you would never have discovered without the beautiful being that now depends on you? Who needs to get back to work when you are now teacher, nurse, public relations, officer, cook, cleaner, motivational speaker, accountant, personal shopper, and 100s of other things working 7 days a week? Who needs an adult conversation? They only ever talk about themselves, I choose every time to talk about interesting things like why is the sky blue? (I know, do you?) with a being that’s not so self-obsessed. "Me time" was possibly overrated, never before did I realise how much I enjoy "our time".
Ok, so I might not be the height of fashion, but I do at least have my own Identity. Dressing how you like has a real upside. Not having money makes you start to value the wealth of things you do have much more. Everyone who experiences the love of their own children is rich beyond measure. I can’t count the amount of times I have felt superior when crossing out unemployed and writing SAHM in its place to make a point. And when someone frowns at me and says "oh, you’re just a Mum", I smile to myself and pity them. They have come to this conclusion because they have not realised how rewarding it is to see an individual soul flourish under their own care and commitment, they possibly may never have heard the words "I love you mum", after soothing tears, sharing achievements, reading a story, painting a picture, building a Lego house, running a race, singing a song, writing a name, having a play date, going fishing, going swimming, walking in the woods, having a picnic, building a den, watching a film, solving a problem, helping with homework, cooking a meal, mending a teddy bear, and at 2am, when all is quiet, and your chasing away a nightmare. But I have, and I’m glad, and I would not have had my life any other way.
I have been a SAHM, as was my own amazing mother, and it’s all been memorable. As I move on with my life, I don’t know what the next chapter will hold, but I know that I have 12 years’ worth of experience that stands me ready for anything.