I Sing of the Stay-at-Home Parent, available at: ForYourMarriage.org

Happily Even After

I Sing of the Stay-at-Home Parent

April 12, 2011

Joshua has written in the past about the times I might be traveling and he has been a solo parent for three or four days at a time.  Well the last several weeks it was my turn.  In three weeks Joshua was away from home for 12 days, including one stretch of 8 consecutive days.

I had more or less psyched myself up for this stretch of days for a while. I knew it would be a bit challenging but I had the strategy of relying on the children’s days in school to get things done.  Then when they were home in the afternoons and evenings I could focus on good time with them instead of cleaning the house, taking care of odds and ends, etc…

It’s funny, when folks first heard Joshua was going to be gone for so long and that I wouldn’t be working for the week, they gave me this sympathetic look like, “You’re going solo full time with three children?”  Never to be one for pity, I would pass it off saying, “Well, they are in school during the day.”  At which point whomever would smile and conspiratorially begin suggesting any number of things I could do for fun with “all those free hours.”

Yeah, Lesson Number One of the Week Alone:  There are no FREE hours.

My hours were pretty much divided between hours when I was directly caring for the children and hours I was indirectly caring for the children.  Direct care included but was not limited to: waking, dressing, brushing, combing, feeding, packing, driving, hugging, kissing, dropping off, picking up, playing, reading, feeding, washing, leading in prayer, and tucking.

Indirect care included and WAS limited to: Making meals, cleaning up after meals and driving.  SERIOUSLY, and I am not exaggerating, I felt as though I was constantly in a state of either making a meal, feeding children a meal, or cleaning up after a meal. It was so monotonous!

And the talking. Within a day and half of being fulltime solo parent my Facebook status was something to the effect of: “36 hours solo parenting and all my children do is TALK.”  I couldn’t believe it.  Just talk, talk, talk.  They had comments about everything, all the time.  How could I have not noticed this before?

I had a moment, I remember it SO clearly because I was stirring something on the stovetop, and I just suddenly realized: I am NOT a stay-at-home mom.  Prior to that, because of our job-share arrangement, I had figured I had “street cred” in both mom worlds.  There were days I was the stay-at-home / make-the-family’s-world-keep-humming mom.  And then there were days I was the professional/I-have-to-deal-with-leaving-my-children-for-work mom.

But I got ‘NOTHIN’ on the real full time stay-at-homers.  The self-sacrifice that it must take to interminably be in what must sometimes be mind-numbing monotony is not something I have ever had to face before this.  Two days a week I get a free pass into adult stimulation. 

As a 100% stay-at-homer I came face-to-face with the reality of what has to be named as some sort of courage.  I already mentioned how monotonous the rhythm of meals got to be.  But in order for the house to run smoothly, that type of routine is essential in pretty much every aspect of the household.  So, what I think takes the truest grit is to come to the end of the day and deal with the fact that you have to get to bed JUST TO WAKE UP AT DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.  How but by the grace of God, can we find the will to persevere?

So, I sing of the Stay-at-Homers out there who do this day in and day out.  I sing of your perseverance; your selflessness; your careful driving; your listening; your chit chat; your compromising; your courage; your fatigue; and your love.

In you and through you, your children are blessed by God.

Reader Comments (3)

  • Hi Stacy!

    Thank you so much for posting this. As a newlywed (one year) we have decided for me to be a stay at home wife in hopes someday a Mom. I often struggle each month whether I ought to go back to work and blogs/articles such as these encourage me more and more that we have made the right decision.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Eileen Mae

  • Dear Stacy,

    I am so glad to have come across your blog. I hope that this finds you well.

    I do not know if you remember me but I lived in Naples, FL in 2001 and worked with you and Josh in the Diocese of Venice young adult ministry. We attended a conference in Chicago that year. I was sad to lose touch with you after you left for school.

    God works in such amazing ways and has put me in touch with some friends that I have not seen or heard from in a LONG time including PJ (through his wife) at Church.

    I would love to get in touch with you again.

    Thank you.

    Eileen Mae (Mendoza) Kudenholdt

  • Posted for Angela: In response to your article,’I sing of the Stay-At-Home-Parent’ I just want to add… try homeschooling on top of the normal full time stay-at-home life. ;) It’s over the top some days, but thankfully we manage to fall into a routine, naturally. But it is a huge sacrifice all around. Without being fully committed to serving Him, I would be lost playing all of these roles in our family. I’m SO thankful each and every day for the opportunity to walk away from my career to raise our children. I do miss the research and publications (being a food chemist by training), but I would never trade a single moment of any day… no matter how amazing or how difficult it might turn out to be. Thanks for your post. (Sorry WP wouldn’t let me log in to comment even though I am logged in for my own WP site right now. Weird.) -Angela


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Happily Even After

Happily Even After

Josh and Stacey have been married for almost 20 years. They have three children in middle school and high school. The Noems live in Indiana, where Stacey teaches in the Master of Divinity program at Notre Dame and Josh is a freelance writer.

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