An introduction to today's post from Kendra:
I met Jen Holloway, the author of today's post, at the beginning of this year after she moved to our small town with her husband and toddler. I learned she is a writer - a good one - but we've also had some great discussions about how boring staying at home can be when you're used to having a career outside of the home.
I know some of our readers feel the monotony that staying at home and raising children can bring, and I thought Jen's post was important to share as an encouragement if you're in that place.
When I was in graduate school I had to take classes in research methods and theory. They were mandatory and difficult and supposed to help you with your thesis and future plunge in the world of academia, supposing you were headed that way.
Thankfully I had awesome teachers that kept me interested because I didn’t find these classes particularly useful past my graduation date as I was one of the few who wanted a career outside of academia.
Dr. Sparks, or Sparky as he allowed me to refer to him outside of class, was my professor for theory. During one of our first classes we discussed paradigm shifts — what a paradigm actually was, what his was concerning the subject matter and the importance of shifting our paradigm to his. He said something along the lines of, “Get in my boat.”
I’ll never forget that day. We actually drew a boat on the board to better visualize this. That class helped me get through graduate school as well as remember the definition of the word paradigm since it was one I didn’t frequently use.
A model . . . a worldview . . . a way of thinking, if you will.
To successfully navigate grad school waters, I had to first learn what paradigm my professors followed and then adjust all of my work for that class to reflect said paradigm. Conforming to their paradigm equaled achievement. The students who bucked the system had trouble keeping up.
I’ve recently begun thinking of paradigms again, only this time, in regards to motherhood. While pregnant with my first child I thought of how I would soon spend my days caring for my new baby, dedicating every moment to this little one’s every need. Feeding, diapering, laundry, playing peek-a-boo — all of these things would become my new routine. I would find fulfillment in this. I would love it.
Then my son was born and reality set in. That paradigm I had of motherhood no longer held up. For starters, I was a stay-at-home-mom by default. I was unemployed when my son was born. All attempts at full-time work in my chosen field had failed, and my temp job ended six weeks before the little man showed up. I was okay with this. I felt like it must have been God’s plan.
Then the first month passed and my anxiety about being a mother grew and grew. It wasn’t until after I stumbled out of this terrifying fog that I determined I had actually suffered from postpartum depression. Thankfully that stumbling had taken me to a support group and other resources, and the Lord took care of me and pulled me through.
And then my very best friends in the world all had babies in the months following my delivery, so we created a mom’s group, and I now had things to do, places to be . . . built-in adult interaction if you will.
But something still felt off. I didn’t live in a commune so there were many times where I was alone with my baby. And he was happy playing independently. And the laundry was done. And the house was clean . . . ish. What to do? Do I search for part-time work? Do I volunteer? Do I become a master crafter with an Etsy shop and enviable Pinterest boards? What do I do with my baby while I try to do all of these things? Do I hunker down into the Lord and let Him satisfy me? (The answer to this last question is yes; however, most of us know that is not as easily done as it is said.)
These questions have been playing a ping-pong game in my head for over a year. There are days I’m totally happy with where I am and what I’m doing. (And by the way, we moved across the country during this time, so my built-in playgroup is no more for me.) I know I’m so blessed to be able to raise my child how the Lord is leading. Then there are days I want to drop my son off at daycare and head straight for the nearest employment office to do whatever so I can be near adults. But you know what I’m really feeling?
Most of the time I’m bored.
Yes, being a stay-at-home-mom is hard work. It is. It is everything every other pro-SAHM blog has written. It really is. I’m not here to undermine that movement.
But right now, with one kid to take care of who is really easy and loves to play trucks and trains and blocks with very little help from me, I find myself reading all of these pro-SAHM articles and wondering what I’m doing wrong. Sure I could go clean a bathroom. But I just cleaned it a week or so ago. I could go start a new sewing project. But then my son would be underfoot and get tangled in a spool of thread. I could try to play with him more. But have any of you ever played trains for hours on end with a child who has a limited vocabulary?
According to everything I’m reading, I should be bone-tired at the end of my day. I should be filled with joy due to my bone-tiredness. I should be grateful I have a child to play with. I should “cherish every moment.” I should search for the lesson here because God has a plan for this time.
But I’m not, or I don’t. Not all the time. I don’t feel these things/ do these things all the time. Some days I do. But some days I don’t. And some days I’m bored.
And you know what? I think I need to be okay with that. Life is about seasons.
Solomon wrote about this stuff in Ecclesiastes 3. If women during that time didn’t have to make everything from scratch in order to survive, “a time to be bored and a time to be lively” might have found its way into the passage. However, he does write, “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . ” Perhaps this is my season for a little boredom tossed in with my toddler-wrangling. Maybe my motherhood paradigm for “mother to one” has shifted to include some downtime, some inactivity. And inactivity without guilt. I’m just in a boat that meanders through some seas of boredom.
Hopefully one day I’ll jump ship into a boat as a mother to two, and an entirely different paradigm will take over. But until then, maybe my lesson is about grace . . . for myself.
Jennifer Holloway was born and raised in Alabama where she grew in her love for sweet tea and biscuits and gravy, though her dislike of grits might cause some to disown her. She currently resides in California, but her heart remains in New England where she lived before making the trek west. Jen and her husband are raising a two-year-old son, tolerating a middle-aged German shepherd and expecting baby #2 this fall.