Ten months ago I quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom. The idea of wanting to staying at home everyday with our kids was something I used to idealize. I begged my husband to let me have babies and stay home with them so I could be the perfect mom and housewife. Now I wonder why I ever thought I would enjoy it? For one, I hate doing laundry. And dishes. I do like to cook, so I have that going for me, but right now I’m comparing it to a root canal.
Just kidding…Well, kind of.
Our daughter has always been strong-willed and stubborn, but when she was kicked out of two day cares in two months my husband and I knew it was time for me to quit my job. We thought our little family had adjusted well to having two working parents, but when we moved homes to be in a better school district everything blew up in our faces. Behaviors we hadn’t seen since the beginning resurfaced with a vengeance. My daughter lashed out at me constantly and was totally defiant. One particularly challenging day, she screamed at me for six hours telling me how awful it was being my child and she just knew that I didn’t love her. I knew at that point me staying at home wouldn’t be enough to undo the damage we caused by trying to make things better for the family.
For years I had worked 40-plus hour work weeks and in an instant that changed. Not only was it an adjustment for the kids, it was hard on me as well. Here comes the part where I get to stay at home everyday with my crazy, loud, insanely frustrating and energetic kids. All while we see psychologists and psychiatrists and specialists to ensure we got the help our daughter needed.
I didn’t feel equipped to deal with everything. I felt like a failure as a parent. I still do some days. I worried that my son wouldn’t be getting the attention he needed to thrive. My husband reassured me I could do it and we would be able to get things back to some kind of normal, but the future scared me. Self-doubt crept in and made things harder, making me question every parenting decision I made. Everything didn’t get better at once, but one day a few months down along the line, I realized things weren’t completely doomed like I thought.
Things will never be easy and we will never have the ‘normal’ kids that don’t have some sort of issues. I’ve accepted that our days are different. Each victory is different. The little things that you take for granted become more meaningful because your expectations change. There will be days we have dance parties in the living room because we’ve had a week of good behavior and there will be days mixed in that I’ll be hiding in the laundry room eating whatever chocolate I can find.
Fostering and adopting my amazing children has been an experience I never expected. I’ve grown as a person in ways I never imagined I would. We were sitting with our therapist the other day and she commented on how patient I was with the kids. My first reaction was to laugh hysterically, but my mother, a woman who has told me my entire life that I was one of the most impatient people she’s ever known, agreed with her. I was shocked. Patience was never a quality I would have named off for myself, but apparently I have it in spades.
So today I get to spend my afternoon running around at the playground with my little ones. I might have reluctantly started the stay-at-home-mom journey, but I’m going to try to cherish every second I get with them. We will also celebrate every small victory we get because they aren’t always so easily won.
Ariel is a stay-at-home mom of two who is blogging about her foster care and adoption experiences for MetroFamily. Learn more about her and our other bloggers here and check out all our foster care resources here.