being home all day is scary. (or, i don’t want to lose myself)

by Liz on 07.26

I’ve briefly mentioned a few times that I was surprised at how… not boring… it is to be at home all day. In fact, lately I’ve been feeling pangs of guilt that I’m allowed to do this. I’m able to just wake up and enjoy my baby all day, and maybe throw in a load of laundry while the coffee brews (if I feel up to it).

I was so afraid that staying home all day would bore me out of my skull.

I guess my fear was that there would be NOTHING TO DO but change diapers- that I would be so overwhelmed by the duties and chores involved with Motherhood and staying at home, that I wouldn’t have time for anything else.

This is FALSE.

It turns out, taking care of a kiddo doesn’t take up that much of a day- they sometimes nap, often can entertain themselves, and are rather portable. Excluding the few times a day that I need to spoon mush into an open mouth and wipe clean a round bottom, my time is relatively free. Free to explore libraries, museums, farmer’s markets and parks. Free to visit friends and cafes. Free to experiment with yummy meals using the goods bought at the aforementioned farmer’s markets, and drop those meals off to the aforementioned friends. I have more time to keep up on news, to paint, to write a letter, to take a walk. Not only can I do all of these things, I also have a sweet little Companion with whom to share it all.

But it was more than that. I was afraid not just that staying at home all day would be boring, but that stay-at-home-Mom… or really, “Mom” in general… would become a limiting role. That my identity as “Liz” would be dissolved into this new identity. That I would lose my sense of self.

Turns out, squeezing myself into this role doesn’t mean there are leftover pieces of me that don’t fit into the mold and, as a result, are discarded. It’s less like being pressed through a cookie cutter, and more like adding an extra layer of frosting. I’m still entirely Liz. But now I have this added dimension. Who I am- my creativity, interests, passions, goals- is all still intact. And now, I get to pass those on and share them with a growing little person.

In fact, it’s exciting in-and-of-itself to watch how my interests impact Little Josh. When we go to a library, I get to experience the library in a whole new way. I notice the smell of the dusty books, the feel of the weathered binding, the sound of hushed whispers- because I watch my son as he experiences it all for the first time.

I’m still Liz. I don’t need to trade my taste for exotic food in exchange for a love of Chuckie Cheese. I don’t need to turn my passion for political activism into a passion for clean laundry. All that has changed is that I have one more reason to fuel my passions, exercise my creativity, and attempt to achieve my goals. A Little One sees me as the example, and I want him to know that he can do the same.

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jolynn says:
Jul 26, 2011 8:56 am

Bookmarking this. I think that you doing things is so good for you, and so so good for Little Josh. He's going to have an excellent example of a whole human as his mom, and that? That's priceless, my dear.

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kacey says:
Jul 26, 2011 9:01 am

What a lucky little one you have! I love this picture of motherhood. I'm curious how staying home has affected your marriage, or if it's even distinguishable from the overall changes that come with having a baby. Not that you owe this explanation to your blog-reading public, but I always appreciate your candor & wisdom!

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Jen says:
Jul 26, 2011 9:13 am

what a great post! so awesome!

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Adrienne says:
Jul 26, 2011 9:54 am

So wonderful. If you do baby-led weaning you guys can eat together, no spooning mush, so the day will get even easier, and more fun!

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melle-belle says:
Jul 26, 2011 10:54 am

His little mouth and nose look absolutely delicious. I'd be kissing on him all day!

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Amanda M says:
Jul 26, 2011 10:56 am

This is so beautiful, exactly why I want to have children (but written so much better than I am ever able to say). And that picture is priceless, such a sweet face and it looks like he is already a keen thinker as well!

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meghan says:
Jul 26, 2011 11:26 am

THANK GOD! I worry about this, among many things.

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Caitlin says:
Jul 26, 2011 11:38 am

I love this. You have a amazing way with words, and even more amazing things to say. (Not to mention a totally handsome little man!)

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Adventures Along The Way says:
Jul 26, 2011 12:30 pm

I worry about this too, and find your post to be encouraging. I am glad that being a mom is like icing. I like that analogy a lot…

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lyn says:
Jul 26, 2011 12:38 pm

As both a feminist and a child of the "me" generation I've worried about being smothered, NEGATED by life roles. "Wife" and "mother" are so laden with unwanted meaning for me. I've managed to get my hands around the neck of wifehood and come to love it. Now, it's the concept of motherhood that's making me anxious. And the media doesn't help, that's for sure. Motherhood, to the media, is either a heavenly cloud of magical, special, precious wonderfulness or it's a hellish ash heap of a nightmare.

But this — watching others who have gone before me — this is helping a lot. This is giving me hope.

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Sharon says:
Jul 26, 2011 3:13 pm

This is wonderful and gives me lots of hope. Also, Josh Jr. gets cuter and cuter everyday!

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Sarah says:
Jul 26, 2011 4:58 pm

It's amazing how this fear is pushed on women. Talking with a new-to-DC friend (who has a 3 year old daughter) a few weeks ago, she mentioned she was feeling very lonely because she felt she couldn't contact anyone other than other moms, while her sister (child-free) was free to go meet up with whoever.

When I mentioned helping raise my godson for a while (where we'd incorporate the baby, or put him in a sling and bring him along to whatever our plans were), and the same philosophy you have of not letting a baby take your identity, she nearly started crying. She's always been told that being a mom is all there is … and now wsh'es being treated like that's all she is. Time to make sure she remembers she's Laura as well.

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greyandshiny says:
Jul 26, 2011 6:37 pm

Also bookmarked this. I need to read this again. I need to tattoo this into my brain so I don't become like Sarah's friend above when I do have kids. I am so happy to read these honest glimpses of motherhood. Thank you.

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Kristi says:
Jul 27, 2011 10:15 am

This is great. And reassuring!

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agirl says:
Jul 30, 2011 6:15 am

Thank you for this. It is what I always suspected, really.

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LilSass says:
Aug 2, 2011 9:33 am

Over here from APW and I LOVE this post. Love love love it and need it when I deeply fear parenting. Thanks

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Samantha says:
Mar 5, 2013 1:14 pm

Popped over from APW.

Thank you. I needed this.

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