Autonomy and the SAHP

15 Sep

I think the hardest part of being a parent who stays home is finding some personal independence. Your world seems to revolve around taking care of all the individual needs of others, rather than anything having to do with yourself.

A typical day includes figuring out how and what to feed everyone else and where you will find the money to get said food. To get said food you must plan a meal plan for the week, clip all the coupons and do all the sale research, and carve an annoyingly large chunk of time out of a day to go do the shopping for said food. Where it provides a wonderful cardio workout, one does question why shopping has to be a contact sport rivaling rugby. Then there is the laundry, taking care of the family pets, keeping track of all the doctor’s appointments for sick kids, scheduling the appointments for the not sick kids, dentist appointments, school events, making sure you go see family members on the rare occasion you have a free weekend day, and trying to schedule your children to have free time just to relax. All of that is just a brief scope of what it takes to stay at home and “simply take care of the house and the children.”

When I worked outside of the house I juggled all these things and a job. I’ll have to say I found it far easier because I was able to escape all the little details of my house for X number of hours each week. I found self-satisfaction in being able to control 85% of my time exactly what I would be doing without interruption or disaster. At home, none of my time is really mine. A child or phone call or some animal mess is always bound to reschedule what I thought were my plans to make. Nobody is there to ‘show my hard efforts to’ and the mess has already started to reappear the moment I accomplished clearing it.

The stay at home parent is truly the hardest job I’ve ever taken on in my life. I do not love cleaning up after people full time, but I truly enjoy every second of watching my kids grow and learn. I wholeheartedly love being able to support each of my family members in their endeavors. But it brings to mind the question, where do I fall into the mix? How do I find my own personal independence while striving to support everyone else’s? Which brings about the next question: how do I have my own personal independence without being selfish in doing so? For years I wanted the ability to stay home and take care of my children. I missed so much of their lives for the 10 years I battled to work a job and raise them, despite my failing health. Now that I have all of that, I’m bold enough to say that its not enough just to raise them…I need something for me too.

I’ve spent hours over the last three months sitting to nurse holding my newest son. Its given me much time to think and explore what I feel my needs are and what I’m going to need in my life to stay happy. The last thing anyone wants is for their life to become stale and mundane. I have many passions that have fell by the wayside over the years. It was rare for me not to have a pencil in my hand doodling something or a camera snapping away for a photograph. I have always been on the creative side of things; diving my nose into the stage crews or onto the stage itself, singing in a choir or playing the piano to accompany them, and my musical interest behind an instrument as well as having a constant melody playing on the stereo. I know that I’m going to have to find a way to bring a piece of that into my life again, yet the puzzle has changed its shape.

So the next few months are going to be spent reopening friendships with not only people but reopening my creative endeavors and trying to fit them into my domestic lifestyle. I hope, as I’m sure many mothers do, that it is possible to raise children and still find time to just be me. That is my goal for this year. I know it seems a little late in the year for resolutions, but I’m not giving up anything but striving for a goal. And if you’re lucky enough to be reading this, you get to join me in my journey.

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