Caitrin Bennett shares an open letter to moms worried about what others might think about their decision to stay home with their children full-time.
Dear Stay-at-Home Mama,
What you’re doing is countercultural. Many of your friends don’t get it. I know you worry about the things that they think.
I’m not going to tell you that no one is actually thinking those things … because some of them are. I’m not going to tell you not to let it bother you … because sometimes it will. Here’s what I will tell you: the next time you worry about what others are thinking, take a moment to consider the things they’re not thinking about you. I call these “non-thoughts.”
Sure, some of your college-educated, career-oriented friends might occasionally think, "She’s wasting her degree! She’s wasting her mind! What is she going to put on her résumé when she finally goes back to work? Why hasn’t she gone back to work yet? Must be nice to sit around at home all day."
But here are a few things I’m willing to bet they’re not thinking. "She puts her work first. Her life seems hardly to have changed since she had kids! When does she even find time for them?’’
At times, even your husband might think things like, "Wish I could just stay home all day. How is it that she’s been here all day long, yet the house is still a mess and dinner isn’t ready?"
But your husband has never thought, "Who will care for my kids when they get sick? Who will notice when they are struggling emotionally, mentally, or physically? Are my children being cared for by the person who loves them most in the world? Is day care reinforcing the values that matter to our family?"
You’re right that your babies and young kids think you are just “Mama,” that they don’t recognize you are a whole person with other facets to your personality and life. They expect you to be at their constant beck and call, because that’s what you do.
But here are some non-thoughts from your little ones. "Who will feed me lunch today? Who will hold me if I fall down and get hurt? When will Mama come back?"
One day, your angsty teenager might well think, "Mom needs to get a life! She’s always around. Can’t she just give me some space?"
But because you were always around, your teen probably will not think, "Am I loved? Am I valued? Would anyone even notice if I were gone?"
Some days, you yourself will have negative thoughts about staying at home. "Why am I doing this? If one more person asks me for something during my two-minute shower, I’m going to lose it! I miss problem-solving … I’m so bored! I haven’t spoken to another adult all day. I’m going to forget how to use proper English grammar. I’ve already changed four diapers, cleaned up three spilled drinks, managed two temper tantrums, lived a thousand years, and it’s not even 8 AM yet. I can’t do this!"
But you won’t find yourself thinking, "Am I needed? Am I loved unconditionally? Am I valuable to this home and family?"
And when you’re 90 years old (God willing!) and looking back over your life, you won’t think, "I wish I had spent more time with my kids while they were little. It happened so fast, and I missed so much of it."
I hope just that one non-thought right there is enough to keep you going on your hardest days. You’ve got this, mama.
Copyright 2022 Caitrin Bennett
About the Author
Caitrin Bennett is a military wife and homeschooling mama of three young children. Her blog at HolierMatrimony.com combines two of her passions: sharing the Church’s beautiful teachings on marriage, and creative writing. Caitrin hopes to one day publish her own book on married saints and Catholic marriage.