Just a Stay-at-Home Mama

stayathomemomsmall

It’s Monday afternoon, and I’m having an ugly stay-at-home mama day.

You know, the day you haven’t a moment to primp in front of the mirror, so you pull back your hair, throw on a t-shirt, and pray the only familiar face you see is your own reflection in the mini-van rearview mirror. It’s the day the pimple on your forehead shines; the shoes on your feet clash your outfit; and the only phrases that exit your mouth are imperative sentences.

I drag my preschooler to his swim lesson, slump in a chair, and bounce my fussy toddler on my knee. I make chit-chat with a familiar stranger while pacifying my toddler with crackers—one after another. Crumbs dribble down his chin onto his shirt, fusing with fabric, and somewhere in between small talk, the snack box, and sporadic hand waves to my preschooler, my toddler survives the entire half hour. I rush my preschooler in and out of the change room — presto. I think we just might escape anyone we know.

Just as I round up my boys and head toward the door, I hear a proverbial voice.

“Hey, Melanie!”

I look back and gulp. It’s my gorgeous always-put-together Facebook-mommy-acquaintance-friend wearing a cute athletic outfit and glittering white tennis shoes.

“Hey.” I hoist my toddler on my hip while my preschooler hides behind my leg. “I haven’t seen you in a long time. How are you?”

“Oh, I’m doing great.” My friend reveals a set of flawless white teeth and a seamless life.

She tells me how she’s now working full time as a manager, and she has never felt better. She’s hired a nanny to watch her kids, and she’s taking great care of herself by working out every day. And after she rattles off her shopping list of accomplishments, she asks the dreaded question, “So, what are you doing?”

I rack my brain for a genius answer to this question. Should I say I’m a home manager? A child specialist? Laundry connoisseur?

“Oh … I’m just home.” I say instead.

My friend flashes a sympathetic smile.

“But we’re expecting again, and I’m doing a little writing.”

I’m convinced the last two variables make my job more acceptable. It’s as if having two kids isn’t reason enough for me to stay home. And just to ensure my friend knows I have something other than the kids, I feel the need to share my moonlight fiction and freelance writing.

“Congratulations,” my friend says. “Wow, three kids. You’re going to be busy. Aren’t you going to go crazy?”

I spew some heroic answer about how I’ve always wanted a bigger family. My cheeks feel warm. Where’s the nearest exit?

“Well, we should go out for lunch sometime.” My friend gives me a hug and then sprints away.

Since when can a stay-at-home mom go out for lunch?

As I leave the gym, my heart is as empty as my son’s cracker box. For in this season of pregnancy, I’ve felt bloated, tired, and unproductive. And some days, I’ve wished I could put on a nice dress and red lipstick, sit in an office with a bay window, and perform some fancy job description.

I strap my kids in their car seats and head toward home, dreaming of my friend’s glorious life.

“How do some women do it all?” I ask my husband over dinner.

“They don’t.” My husband looks me in the eye. “Something always gives.”

I know my husband is right. Superwoman is a myth. In either case, whether a woman works inside or outside the home, some aspect of professional and personal development, housekeeping, or family life lacks. And at the end of the day, a mother’s work decision comes down to a personal calling lived out in faith. For some courageous women, working outside the home is not a choice, but a necessity.

In my case, I decided to stay and work from home after hearing many older mothers tell me this ancient adage of childrearing: the days are long, but the years are short. After the birth of my first son, I chose to pursue my professional goals at a slower pace and, with my husband in graduate school, embrace a simple lifestyle (it can be done!), for I knew with all my heart I didn’t want to miss my children’s first steps, words, and years of life. Working full time outside the home just wasn’t worth the extra car or luxury of eating out and, though staying home has meant delaying other dreams, I’m confident I’ve made the right decision for our family.

So, why am I ashamed to say I stay at home? I have been given such a unique privilege. I am a full time mother to three sons; I am present in their lives for most of their waking hours; and I’ve had the joy of discovering my professional passion (I only discovered a love for fiction writing after staying home). I have the best job for such a short season. All too soon my sons will venture out into the big, wide world, and I’ll enter a new season.

Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” My children are gifts from God, and I have a short time to invest in their souls — to build my house. For me, this means staying home while they are very young, and perhaps again when they are in their tumultuous teenage years. I must remember raising children is the most valuable job I will ever do — one with eternal repercussions.

Later that evening, I tuck my preschooler under his covers. He looks at me and says, “I love you, Mama.”

Is he referring to me? The unkempt mama who rushed him around during the day and snapped at various moments?

I scoop him in my arms and swallow hard. “You are so precious to me.”

In moments like these, I know why I love my job as a full-time mama.

I’m positive there will be more days where I’ll long to pull out my hair, or better yet, spend time making it pretty, but I know I wouldn’t trade this season of pattering feet, stained onesies, and sticky fingers for any other. As my children grow older, I’m certain I’ll have more opportunities to pursue my professional dream of publication. God makes everything beautiful in His time (Ecc.3:11), granting me glimpses of His grace even on my ugliest days.

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About

Melanie N. Brasher is a full-time mama of three boys and wife to an incredible husband who understands her bicultural background. She moonlights as an inspirational writer, crafting stories and articles toward justice and change, and dreams of becoming a voice for the unheard. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid reader. Though she’s an aspiring author, she'll never quit her day job.


  • Patrice

    Melanie- thanks so much for sharing this beautiful picture of your journey. I can definitely relate to the idea of comparing myself to another mom whether it is someone with a career I envy or another stay at home mom who seems to make everything in life work in the midst of homeschooling several children. In those moments, it definitely can be easy to feel inadequate. And reading your article or talking to other women reminds me this struggle with comparisons seems to be a very real challenge in our mothering (or womanhood) journeys.

    Also, I don’t think any woman is immune to the comparison monster. The woman who works outside the home and believes that is exactly where God wants her (not just because her family needs the income) may feel she gets looks from mothers who choose to stay home. Someone once told me that we don’t know at least one more thing about anyone we encounter. As a result, it can be difficult to fully grasp what may be happening in people’s lives.

    I wonder if another thought might be that we often want to justify our lives and our decisions to the people we think judge us: the acquaintance we see at the grocery store, the woman at church who has made some different decisions than we have, etc. I know for me, in those moment where I feel someone may not think my decisions make sense, I think of reasons why I have chosen a better way than they did. But I wonder if perhaps maybe a different thought might be for me to rest in the knowledge that God is good and God is sovereign. And this gracious God that I serve has empowered me for certain tasks in His kingdom and others for different tasks. As a result, the decisions I make may look dramatically different than the decisions another woman may make. But I can rest knowing that God is ultimately calling us to follow Him in every aspect of our lives. So we don’t need to justify our choices to the people around us (or sometimes even ourselves) or take our value from what people may think of us. Instead, I think God calls us to something greater. He calls us to trust that He is unfolding our unique stories (and our children’s stories) and weaving them together in His divine tapestry. In the end, His divine tapestry points to His one great story. And this thinking challenges me that the greatest thing I will ever do is pursue God with a single-minded focus in whatever season of life He has me in.

    Thanks again for writing such a lovely article about this very real topic. I really appreciate your thoughts and your willingness to share a vulnerable area that I know resonates with so many women.

    • Melanie

      Patrice,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. You nailed it with this line: “The greatest thing I will ever do is pursue God with a single-minded focus in whatever season of life He has me in.”

      Wow, what a great point. The pursuit of God is even greater than child-rearing. In the end it’s not what I do or accomplish for Him that matters, it’s His work in me. Thank you so much for this insight.

  • Melanie, You are doing the most important job ever. Don’t ever sell yourself short! And you are already an awesome writer – published or not. I wanted to share one of the few pieces I’ve had published online. It is written from the perspective of a mom from ‘the other side of the fence’. You definitely don’t want to trade!

    http://www.scrapgirls.com/NL/Chit_Chat_100724_Sat_Career.htm

    If you’d ever like to become writing critique partners/cheerleaders for each other I would be honored … and entirely flexible to your full-time career of mommy hood. :) I need it too! I only have two girls, but they keep me busy.

    – Suzanne

    • Melanie

      Suzanne,

      For some reason I couldn’t find your article, but I’ll keep looking.

      And thanks for the kind offer, friend!

  • KarenL

    Really great piece of writing and perspective Mel! Thanks! You encouraged me today!

    • Melanie

      Thanks, Karen. I’m so glad it blessed you.

  • This is well said, Melanie. I love it! I’m sharing it on FB.

    • Melanie

      Thanks for sharing, sweet Theresa!

  • What a great post! I love your writing style. I can so relate to those “hope no one sees me while I shop for groceries” moments! Being a “professional mama” is a wonderful job. I was writing at my computer this morning when my 2 year old whispered in my ear, “I love you mama.” That’s priceless as you know!

  • Debbie

    Melanie – what a lovely, well-written, heartfelt post. I know just what you mean. And appreciate a fresh perspective that I desperately needed.

  • Melanie, this article moved me to tears. God really spoke to my heart through you this morning. I have an MBA and gave up a budding career in marketing to stay home with my now 2 year old son. I’ve struggled with my self-worth and feelings of bitterness for 2 years. Thank you for reminding me what a high calling being a mother is, a calling that not every woman is blessed with. God bless you!

    • Melanie

      Amanda, you are right where you are needed most. Thank you for investing in your little one. God sees your heart and desire and your labor is not in vain.

  • Ruth

    Melanie,
    A wonderful article and great encouragement; thank you. May I encourage you that your children will continue to need you at home just as much as they grow older . . . . The needs will change but just like you don’t want to miss their first steps or any of the sticky kisses you also don’t want to miss the times as teens when they open up to share their struggles, dreams and general thoughts. You’re right: the days are long but the years are short.

    • Melanie

      Thank you for this encouragement, Ruth! I constantly need this reminder.

  • Thanks for sharing. This really reminded of my mission as a mother. Your story sounds so similar to my own. In the start of my journey as a “SAHM”. I had those days. However, over the years, God has given me his confidence.
    Five years ago I was not the woman who spoke freely being a stay at home/homeschooling momma. Especially the part about homeschooling. I wouldnt dare to volunteer that information. Over the years I have learned that “The one who calls me is faithful and he will do it.”. I still have those days when I just wanna be left alone and I’m just plain old weary. But all in all, I wouldn’t trade my “job” for anything on this earth.

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Just a Stay-at-Home Mama

by Melanie N. Brasher time to read: 4 min
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