Career

Dear Edith: I'm struggling to find meaning as a SAHM

July 24, 2017

Dear Edith,

I have a question and a prayer request.

I just recently stopped working (was let go from a small nonprofit because I missed work during my first trimester with extreme morning sickness) and now I'm at home and I'm struggling with what to do. The first couple of weeks weren't bad, but now I'm alone during the day, pregnant with our first baby, and trying to understand where God wants me to be.

I've always wanted to be a stay at home mom, but this "before baby" has me wondering what to do with my time. I'm starting to get depressed because I have skills and talents but instead of using them, I feel like there is not much I can do at home. I don't have a lot of joy right now. I do attend daily Mass, which helps me a lot.

My question is: what do stay at home wives do? What can I do that might make me feel worthy of staying at home right now?

My prayer request is to pray that I can see God's blessing in all of this.- Annamarie

Dear Edith Response #1 - Amy

Dear Annemarie,

I totally understand how you feel.

I always saw myself as the "working woman" and figured I'd follow in my mom's footsteps. She worked full time my whole life, attended all the school things, and was/is a great mother. I never felt as if she didn't love me or my siblings.

When my first baby came along, I was fresh out of college and I felt my talents and gifts were wasting away. I struggled so much with staying home, yet I felt guilty for feeling that way.

After my baby's first birthday, I worked and then I felt guilty for working and being away from her. I was an emotional mess.

The truth is, I envy men. They don't have this war in their hearts like women do.

One thing is that our culture tells women that you aren't valuable or doing anything productive if you aren't working outside the home. This is simply not true and destructive to a woman's self-esteem. Paid work, volunteer work, and unpaid work in the home are ALL valuable and important.

You must realize that you are starting on a new chapter in your life and it's going to take some time to feel comfortable in it. For me, the decision was to stay home with my babies their first year and then evaluate whether I wanted to work or not.

Thankfully, I have that option. I realize that some families need a two parent income.

Something else to consider, is that we pay people to watch our children, so there is value in taking care of kids. We don't see daycare workers are not doing anything with their time. They are and it takes a lot of patience, skill, and talent to do that kind of work.

we pay people to watch our children, so there is value in taking care of kids. We don't see daycare workers are not doing anything with their time. They are and it takes a lot of patience, skill, and talent to do that kind of work.

I would sit down one day and write out your goals. Write out your fears, too.

What are you afraid of happening if you stay home? Boredom? Being unimportant? What are your goals? I wrote a book while my kids were little and home with me. It was something I always wanted to do. I also got into learning how to cook and cook well.

Here are some suggestions for you: Write out your goals. Write out your fears. Get up every morning and get ready. You don't have to look like a million bucks, but take a shower (babies love to be in the shower with you) and get dressed, put on a little make-up if you wear it, and do your hair nicely. You'll feel better. Take a walk. Join a gym. Make some fitness goals.

Realize that all the work you do in the home during the week frees you up to enjoy the weekend with your husband when he is home. When I was working, our weekends were packed with errands. They aren't anymore and we can get out and enjoy.

Commit yourself to reading something news worthy or interesting each day. It doesn't have to be pages long, but it will keep your mind fresh and give you something to talk about with your husband when he comes home.

Look to volunteer. I know that many pregnancy resource centers don't mind if baby is in tow. You can sort donations and do all kinds of things there.

Get into a hobby such as cooking, reading, etc.But, most importantly, relish in this time with your baby. It will go by so fast. I know everyone says that, but you don't have to be working to do something important. Being their for your baby is just what she/he needs. Give yourself time to adjust to this new role and in time evaluate whether you'd like to work again. Either way, you are doing something important.

Amy Thomas is the founder of Passionate Purpose. She is an Air force wife, married almost 16 years, with three kiddos. She has homeschooled her children for eight years. In 2009, she converted to Catholicism and considers it one of the greatest blessings of her life. You can check her out at www.passionatepurpose.org.

Dear Edith Response #2 - A mom who remembers

Dear Annemarie,

I, too, experienced health complications as a young wife and mother to be. Due to my health, I could no longer fulfill my duties at work. I remember going through a stage of trying to be the Proverbs 31 woman and the perfect housewife.

I soon found, however, that I was very bored. And anxious. And ashamed of myself for being "just a housewife."

One day I was driving home from an appointment when I decided to take a different route home. I noticed an old home with a sign that intrigued me. "Free pregnancy tests."

For some reason, I walked in and asked if they needed volunteers. That afternoon I spoke with the center director and started volunteer training at a local pregnancy resource center. I volunteered 4 days a week, keeping me busy, serving others, and establishing lasting friendships.

This time does not have to be a waiting period.

This time does not have to be a waiting period. This can be time to develop your faith and to serve others, even if it may be a bit uncomfortable at times. A great place to start is to call your parish. Many churches have pro-life committees, groups whom provide meals for the sick or bereaved, choirs, food pantries, etc. If there is no immediate need at your parish, offer to lead a Rosary circle or even to transport elderly parishioners to and from daily Mass.

Serving others can fulfill the desire to be useful and help you grow in your blossoming maternal role.

Prayers and blessings,

A mom who remembers

This author would like to remain anonymous.

Dear Edith Response #3 - Catherine

Dear Annemarie,

I felt a little envious when I first read of your plight to be quite honest.

Studying and working, newly married (TEN months before baby born), sick as a dog and incredibly busy, I was in denial about the realities for a good part of my first pregnancy. I winged it completely, cried at the birthing classes, couldn't do the breathing, ran out of the birth video in horror.

With the hindsight of 25 years and 5 children, what would I do differently?I sensed in your apparent feeling of guilt at being home that you perhaps felt guilty at not 'contributing' equally by earning money alongside your husband. This is not how it works, but it is understandable that you feel that way, especially having just left paid employment for the first time. We do tend to identify ourselves closely with our professions, and this is going to be a big adjustment for you, as it is for any first time parent.

God has already told you what he wants you to be - a mother - by blessing you both with a baby. So use the pre-birth time to begin to learn how.

The time you have now is a gift for both you and your husband to use to establish patterns for your new life as parents.

The time you have now is a gift for both you and your husband to use to establish patterns for your new life as parents.

Daily mass and prayer are terrific and are not just for you but for your family. Make sure you take your husband with you in your heart.

Take on board the many intensely practical lessons in our faith about love and service and motivations and humility.

Always pray for your practical needs and for your husband and child/ren. You won't always be able to go to daily Mass, but you can pray anywhere, anytime.

Also read, relax and look after yourself at this time.

I would introduce your husband gently (if he is not already familiar with these ideas) to the concepts of doing the shopping, tidying up, cleaning, laundry, etc, and generally doing stuff round the house that needs to be done. Avoid letting him assume that these are 'your' jobs because you are at home.

Not only is this a pernicious untruth (you are not the help, you are an equal partner), but after the baby is born you will be shell-shocked for a while, and so busy and tired that you won't have a lot of resources to devote to keeping a spotless home and waiting on another adult.

Help him establish habits and awareness of a mature adult that will free you up for baby duty without feeling that you are 'neglecting' him or need to organize him as well.

That being said, also put some (or lots of) time in now to organizing your home to function well with minimal effort. Plan, or learn to plan, a budget. Learn to cook quick and healthy meals, to plan your food shopping, get your kitchen organised for ease of use and of cleaning up after. Plan a four week cycle of easy and quick menus, with shopping lists ready to grab and hand to your husband. If you don't have one, get a dishwasher.

Organize your home so it is easy to keep clean and tidy, ditto your nursery. Learn some cleaning hacks. Get in a large stock of newborn disposable diapers. If people ask what you need for the baby, have a list ready and tick it off as you request things, or have a registry.

Go to prenatal classes and try and make some friends with other pregnant ladies so you will have a bit of a support network afterwards. Check out local playgroups. Engage more with your extended family members as part of your support network.

make some friends with other pregnant ladies so you will have a bit of a support network afterwards.

Get some tops NOW that will make breastfeeding easy and tactful.

Prepare for the unexpected - birth may not go to plan and it is an arduous and messy physical process. Make a healthy baby your sole priority in your birth plan. AND you've got less than nine months to do all this, sister!

Do as much groundwork as you can now because you sure as heck won't have time to do it afterwards. Being a SAHM is the most wonderful thing, but the rewards are unquantifiable and unexplainable and often reveal a certain wry humor in our Creator. You'll find out.

Best of luck.

Catherine

Catherine is a nother of five young adults 14-24. All gainfully employed and/or studying hard to become so. Married once, for 25 years, separated for six months. Working full time.

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