I have been a SAHM for five years, ever since my oldest son was born. He is now 5 years old, and my younger son is 22 months old. I had a college degree and worked in a variety of areas, including marketing, before quitting my job to be home with my baby.
For me, quitting my job was a relatively easy decision (though I knew we’d have to pinch every penny) because the circumstances surrounding the job that I had while pregnant with my oldest were spiraling downward, and I had little desire to deal with all the hassles I saw coming my way.
In addition, I wanted to embrace everything that motherhood had to offer, and I was honestly scared that I wouldn’t be able to handle the stresses of working outside the home and also being a mother (kudos to ALL of you who do that).
My journey as a SAHM has been interesting, to say the least. I can see that I have come a long way when I compare myself to the weak, exhuasted, hormonal woman who brought her jaundiced baby home from the hospital five years ago.
I spent the first year or two of my child’s life trying to figure out “who I was” as a woman, wife, and SAHM. I joined our local MOPS group, and while I loved the spiritual aspect of the group, I always, always struggled to fit in. In the end, I realized that being a MOPS member was causing me way more stress and heartache than it was worth.
Here I was, trying to get my baby and myself out the door on time, typically worn out and looking like H-E-double-hockeysticks and wondering whether anyone else found this motherhood thing as difficult as I did — and I was expected to show up with an egg bake because it was my small group’s turn to provide food, and “egg bake” was the only item left on the list by the time it got to me at the previous MOPS meeting.
Then there was the MOPS Easter event, where each small group was expected to decorate a table with china, linens, etc., for a MOPS Easter meal. My second year in MOPS, I had gotten myself pulled together a bit and therefore had the guts to tell my small group leader that I simply was not going to participate in this event, in part because I had a hard enough time getting Easter pulled together at my own home, thankyouverymuch, never mind hauling decorative items across town and into a church basement for an event that I wasn’t that interested in to begin with.
I’ll never forget the time that one of our local MOPS steering team members asked me to be Moppetts Coordinator for the following year. This is the person who coordinates the childcare aspect of MOPS, and it was obvious to me that it was a complicated, stressful, and time-consuming position. I’m sure she expected me to give it some thought and get back to her at a later time, but — I was getting smart, you see, and had my “No” muscles toned and ready for action — I thanked her for thinking of me but said that I wasn’t going to be able to take on that position.
After two years in MOPS, which had some bright spots but also more than a little stress, sadness, and frustration, I quit altogether. I am thankful to my MIL for encouraging me in this area; she could see the writing on the wall long before I could. (Sadly, she and I are now all but estranged, but that doesn’t change the fact that I admire and respect her in many regards, and I will always be thankful to her for helping me to think for myself and be my own person, SAHM or not.)
I see my decision to quit MOPS and instead embrace our local ECFE (sort of like Mommy & Me) as a turning point for me in my personal development and journey as a SAHM. I was finally ready to accept who I was and not worry so much about being like other moms/SAHMs.
I was the ONE mom among sixty or seventy at our MOPS meeting who chose not to do the craft, and instead take a few minutes to relax (and also avoid bringing yet another piece of clutter into my home). Can you imagine the strange looks and questions that I got that day? I guess it was unthinkable to the other moms that someone would be so independent.
I get quite a lot of visitors to here at this blog, and I have to wonder if any moms who are reading this have dropped out of MOPS or any other “mommy group” because of not fitting in. If so, please leave a comment!