Being a stay-at-home-mom is hard. Especially during those early years when your children can only communicate through blood curdling screams. I remember when I left the work force to stay home with my first two little ones, I was excited. My excitement soon dwindled to something else. Depression. Isolation. Resentment. (<< that last one was towards my husband who got to leave the house every day and talk to grown ups)
When our first son was born I worked outside the home. He spent the first 12 weeks of his life with family, I took time off of course, my husband took time after that, and then he stayed with my dad for nearly 6 weeks. It was great. We had this beautiful little blue eyed boy who had never had so much as a sniffle. Then he went to daycare. Just a short 4 days later my son woke up with a 104 fever and double pneumonia. The rest of his daycare career was very similar. I missed work for doctors appointments, as did my husband. My dad kept him a great deal since he was working from home and had that freedom. Our sweet boy was on antibiotics 3 weeks out of every month, had his own pulmonologist and had to have nebulizer treatments daily. Then we found out we were having another baby. I could not imagine having another tiny baby who was going to be sick constantly. I couldn’t imagine double the antibiotics and doctor appointments. Once we started calculating how much it would cost to have a 20 month old and a newborn in daycare at the same time we realized that I’d be working to put them there. It wasn’t worth it.
We decided I’d stay home. At first I was excited although a little hesitant. I already realized that being home alone with 2 small children was going to be stressful but I really had no idea what I was in for.
I took my maternity leave 2 wees early and stayed home with Kaden during my last few days of pregnancy. It was nice. We went to the park and the library. We had snacks and lunches together and then there was glorious nap time. Kaden used to nap for 3 hours a day. It took me 30 minutes of laying in his bed with him so he could rub my ear to get him to sleep but really, in the grand scheme of things, that was time well spent. We had a pretty good system. I enjoyed our time together.
Then on May 25, 2007 I went into the hospital to have Collin. He wasn’t actually born until 1 am on the 27th. I had no idea that his long and crazy birth would be just a little foreshadowing of things to come with this crazy boy. John stayed home for the first 2 weeks with all of us. That was awesome. He took care of Kaden while I took care of Collin, I had an extra set of hands and an adult to talk to in those crazy first couple of weeks. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss that when he went back to work.
When John headed back to work I still had 4 weeks left of paid maternity leave. I hadn’t told my employer that I was leaving yet. I felt that was a lifeline, keeping the possibility of working open. The first day I was home alone with both the boys nearly killed me. Collin at that time wouldn’t sleep more than 30 minutes at a time, day or night. I was literally up all night with one baby and up all day with the other. I remember getting through the morning until Sesame Street came on at 10 am. At that point I knew it was 11 am lunch and 12 pm naps.I was ready for naps. I nursed Collin and he fell asleep. I put him in his crib and took Kaden to his room. Remember how I told you it took 30 minutes to get Kaden down? I had exactly enough time to use the bathroom once Kaden was asleep before Collin woke up. Screaming. That woke Kaden up. Here I was with 2 babies, one screaming and one who had enough of a power nap to feel refreshed and ready to play. I was drained. I had very little energy left after being up all night with my sleep bandit. I put Collin in the baby swing, he screamed… I found myself sitting on the floor in front of my crying baby and my confused toddler and I just cried. I actually sobbed. I was defeated by 2 little children. I felt like a failure as a mother. I didn’t understand how all these other moms did it, how they enjoyed it. I immediately began to question if I was cut out for the job.
The next morning I asked John to take Kaden to his daycare. I remember the disappointment on his face. I remember watching my not quite 2 year old walk out the door, sad that he couldn’t stay with mommy too. I remember feeling like the worst mom ever.
Our days went on like this for months. I did decide to press on and quit my job to stay home with these little people. I’m happy to say that I didn’t send Kaden to daycare again but I struggled. I was depressed. We started driving 40 minutes a day to my parents’ house in Fruitland Park. I stayed there because I knew that my dad would help me. He’d be a warm body to talk to. He’d watch Kaden while Collin and I napped. We did this for a long time. Our house was neglected because I was never home. We stayed at my parents until as late as possible. I timed it so that I’d get home just 20 minutes before John and that gave me time to start dinner. We spent a fortune on gas and ran up so many miles on our vehicle it was ridiculous. However, I needed it for my sanity. I didn’t know how to be a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t know that you need friends. You need playdates. You need to get out of the house regularly.
A year went by like this. By this time Collin was sleeping better and both boys napped 3 hours a day at the same time. Things were better but I was still lonely. In August of 2008 Kaden started preschool. He was gone 3 mornings a week until lunch time. It was there at preschool that I met my first mommy friend. She had 2 boys the same age as mine. She was 10 years older and had a much better perspective. We became fast friends, as did our boys. We began setting up playdates several times a week. We’d take the little boys to the library while the big ones were in school. She showed me how to do this mom thing. She showed me that with a friend to walk with you it’s actually possible to enjoy it. I will forever be grateful to her for helping me find joy in this journey.
When I look back now and see how far our little family has come my heart is filled with happiness. That first year was harder than anything I’ve ever been through but those times make me appreciate the life we live now so much. When we were first starting out we weren’t in church. We weren’t connected to God the way we are now. God sent me my friend to help me see the joy of motherhood. He brought her family in our lives at exactly the right time. She and I don’t talk as much as I’d like now. Our boys have grown up and grown apart over the years but they will always hold a special place in my heart for how they helped us along the way. Their mother will forever be one of my favorite friends because of the love she gave me through tough years.
If you are just starting out on this journey please know that you need help. You shouldn’t try to do it on your own. Get outside, go to the park, the library, anywhere other moms and children congregate and meet new friends! Pray for God to send you special families for journey. Our heavenly father didn’t mean for us to do life alone. He gives us friends and families to walk with and he always sends just the right person at just the right time. God never fails, and neither do mothers.