Living in the Unsettled

I’ve been a full-time SAHM now for two months.

In many ways it is great. I get to hang out with my kids all day and I get to witness the new things they are doing and learning. Ada saying some words. Aly finally jumping with both feet off the ground. Asante drawing people and flowers and other objects that aren’t letters and shapes. I get to cuddle and hug and kiss them. I get to relax for a few minutes on the couch with the Today Show.

I scour the internet for fun activities that are helpful in developing their knowledge, skills and love for learning. This is fun, but difficult when considering that I’m looking for 3 kids with different interests and ability levels…and we are on a tight budget.

I struggle to decide how to spend my time in the evenings after the kids go to sleep. Do I read? Do I blog? Do I scrapbook or craft? Do I learn how to sew? Do I veg in front of the computer? I struggle to discipline myself to go to bed at a reasonable time, knowing that my workday starts at the crack of dawn, somewhere between 5:45a and 6:45a.

With three small children, personal time or recreational time isn’t a part of the day. My day consists of making meals, folding laundry, picking up, cleaning (a tiny bit), making lists, making sure we’re on top of birthday cards (sorry friends, this isn’t a place I excel at), reading to the kids, creating meaningful learning experiences, going outside, planning play dates and other outings, changing diapers, and playing. I rarely get to sit down (except when I watch a little of the Today show in the morning while I’m folding laundry or something like that). And all of this is done while carrying a baby around…or thinking up ways to distract a baby while I do something that is not focused on her. It’s physically taxing and mentally and emotionally draining. By the end of the day, I’m in need of some me time.

By that time, however, I don’t have mental energy to read a scholarly book on emerging adulthood or have enough focus to think critically about issues that I’d love to give more thought to. Many people say that SAHMs no longer have hobbies. But I am still disagreeing with that statement for myself, hoping and fighting to maintain a sense of interest and curiosity in learning new things and using this time to read and write in my field of interest.

But that raises another question- what IS my field of interest? Parenting? Early childhood education? Spiritual formation of the mother? College Ministry? Emerging Adolescence? I feel a deep passion for all of these areas and have no way to invest myself in them as deeply as I would like to. I feel like I’m dabbling in all of them, without real consistency or depth. It leaves my desires unsatiated. This leaves a feeling of discontentment.

Maybe the discontentment I feel as a SAHM is not in the mothering or the daily routines, but it’s in my wide area of interest and lack of time to dive into any one of those. I think this is one reason why many SAHMs end up “professionalizing” motherhood. They realize that this what they are doing all the time, and then focus all their ambition and drive that. While I would have always imagined myself being like that (and of course, in some ways I participate in this too), I’ve tried to keep outside interests on the table, trying to figure out how I can contribute without being in something else full-time. Writing is a natural outlet for this, but it’s not a natural talent of mine. So, I’m living in the unsettled.

Any other SAHMs relate?

One thought on “Living in the Unsettled

  1. Jenny directed me to your site and this is the subject that hit me. I have been a SAHM for basically 10 years. I own two home-based businesses (Creative Memories scrapbooking and Forever Photos), but don’t really work those as much as I would like. I homeschool and try to do daily chores. We now have chickens, so I also sell eggs. With a toddler around, my days are pretty busy. So, I guess my go-to “hobby” is reading. I read at night to relax before bed, but end up staying up way too late. So, then I am tired the next day and I put out fires and try to play catch-up, and do again. The days I plan for my scrapbooking workshops or a photo shoot are my days. In the midst of daily routines, when I am feeling down or I need something for me, I cook/bake something new. That way my family benefits and I do something for me. I also try to tape a comedy show once a week for Thomas and I to watch together after the kids are in bed. I think a really good laugh can do wonders. (Not that our kids don’t make us laugh all day.) There are all kinds of hobbies, even puzzles or puzzle books. Keep looking, you never know what lurks out there that really screams, “Hey, Tiffany!” Maybe I haven’t helped or I am not making sense, but I felt compelled to respond and it is late…

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