Lately I've been thinking a lot about why I'm happy to be a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM). Occasionally, I refer to myself as a Work At Home Mom (WAHM), but I'm not even making enough money to buy a bag of chicken feed so that title is up for debate. There are just so many things Henry and I would miss out on if I was working. Plus there is the stress I would face from never having enough time to get everything done. I can't even get my to do list done now, much less if I was away from home 8-12 hours five days a week.
I vividly remember those days when I used to work. Hubby and I would carpool together to save on gas. This was before we bought his VW Beetle, so our gas budget was about $900 a month. Hubby would wake up around 3:30-4am to feed the animals while I got up and took a shower. We would have to leave the house by 6am so I could drop him off and make it to my office by 7:30. I'd work my 9 hour day, get off work at 4:30, pick up hubby and get home around 6:30pm. Thankfully, we have big dogs who can hold their bladders for 12+ hours a day. In the winter time, this meant we would leave the house in the dark and come home in the dark. We only saw our property and animals in the daylight on the weekends. Those weekends were then spent doing all of the chores that didn't get done during the week. That list was always growing because we had no energy for anything during the week by the time we got home, fed, and ate dinner. Forget cleaning. Our house was a disaster.
And this was all before Henry was born (I was laid off while I was pregnant). It was stressful enough going to school a couple days a week with a newborn. I honestly do not think I would have been able to breastfeed or cloth diaper if I had been working. The stress of trying to find a child care provider who would accept cloth diapers probably would have caused me to cave and use disposables, at least during the week. And remember the issues I had while pumping and breastfeeding? I can guarantee that my old coworkers would not have been supportive of my need to pump every couple hours. I worked with a bunch of old men. They would have taunted me and made me ashamed to provide that basic need for my son. I can only imagine the grief I would have gone through.
With me home, it's a lot easier to keep up with the farm. Hubby doesn't have to worry about getting up at 4am to feed. I now feed the animals in the morning and the afternoon while he is at work. I mostly keep up with the cleaning (it's a work in progress) and the laundry is pretty well under control. I do a lot more cooking at home, so our food bill has gone down. I've also decreased our electric bill by hanging our laundry out to dry. While there is still stress over money, overall our lives are much less stressful now. We're certainly getting more sleep. I'm able to take time to get back into shape and we finally have more time to actually enjoy our animals. The plan for this next year is to actually make an income from our farm. Again, the responsibility will fall to me, but it will be a great learning experience for Henry.
All of my needs aside, there are also Henry's needs that I am providing for. Having me at home gives him a stable environment and a support system that he knows he can rely upon. It's teaching him self confidence. Plus he's healthy and happy. He gets to play outside in the dirt all day. He chases the chickens, pets the goats, rides the horses and imitates the dogs. He's so happy being outside and just getting dirty. We kick the soccer ball up and down the driveway. We listen for the owls hooting. If he's frightened, he has me to reassure him so his curiosity can take over and he can face his fears. He's learning how to trust. I also get to have real hands-on involvement in my son's upbringing. I can teach him how to think and use his imagination. We practice letters, colors, numbers, counting and animal sounds. His is learning as an amazing pace and I'm there to see all of it. I'm also there to provide consistent discipline and teach him right from wrong. He's at such an influential age, I think this might be my most important role.
And I'm there on the bad days. I'm there when he doesn't feel good and just wants to cuddle on the couch all day. I will gladly skip a run or put off errands to watch Bob the Builder on repeat. Those are the days when I'm happiest to be home. I don't have to worry about his fever getting in the way of an office meeting. I don't have to worry about Henry feeling like an inconvenience because his sudden need for a bath is going to make me late for work. I can drop everything and just be with him. Our children are only small once. In a few years, Henry may not want to cuddle with his Mommy when he doesn't feel good. I don't want to miss this opportunity while I have it.
I don't know how long I'll remain a SAHM. Of course the temptation of going back to work to have a second paycheck is inviting, but I have to consider what I would be sacrificing. We do plan to have more children and I want them to have the same experiences Henry has had. I've also tossed around the idea of homeschooling. There are a lot of decisions to make and sacrifices to consider. For now, I'm just going to focus on being the best Mommy my little boy needs.