Before I became a full-time stay-at-home-mom, I felt like I had an identity. I know as a Christian, my true identity is a child of God. But you know what I mean. I was the Director of Creative Writing for a publishing company, writing and editing books while also managing a team of ghostwriters. I loved my job. Every time I mentioned what I did for a living, I was met with “oohs” and “ahhs”. People thought I was creative. Smart. Different. So when I decided (through much prayer and deliberation with my husband) to leave that all behind and stay home with our kids, I had no idea of the struggle of self-identity before me.
Not that I regret my decision; the business I worked for was going downhill fast and it made more financial sense for me to stay home. Plus, I wanted to be home with my kids. I ached every time I dropped them off before going to work. Because of those heart-wrenching moments, the first few weeks of SAHM life were great! The days were filled with me actually being able to enjoy my kids and witnessing first-hand their growth and development day by day. A few months in, however, it started to get difficult.
In a Rut
Wake up exhausted. Make breakfast. Clean up after breakfast. Change a diaper. Nurse the baby. Play with the toddler. Change a diaper. Make lunch. Clean up after lunch. Rock babies. Make dinner. Bathe babies. Go to bed. I was starting to get stuck in a rut. You know what happens when you get stuck in a rut? Resentment begins to brew. That resentment festered and came out as snippy remarks to my husband or a much shorter reserve of patience. I wasn’t the best person to live with.
Not only that but whenever someone asked “what it was that I do” and I replied, “I’m a stay-at-home-mom,” I got looks of pity. “Oh…well that’s nice,” people would say. It was as though people doubted my mental capacity because I was home with my children instead of at work.
What Can I Do?
Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful I am able to stay home with my kids, but for me, going from a working mom to a SAHM was tough. I needed something that was just for me. I longed for an area of my life to be about something other than wiping noses and catching half-chewed food in my hand. Learning to play an instrument had always interested me, but I didn’t want to learn the guitar or piano.
After all, there are countless people that play those instruments. I wanted to learn to play something different (do you notice a trend here?); something that people wouldn’t necessarily choose first. In passing, I mentioned this to my husband months earlier. “If you could play any instrument, what would it be?” he asked. Without hesitation, I replied, “The banjo.” When he asked why, I shrugged and said, “If it’s good enough for Kermit the Frog, it’s good enough for me.”
My Five-stringed Savior
My husband, bless him, remembered those words. That year for our anniversary, he got me a banjo. When I unzipped that black case and saw it there, in all its glory, I was filled with excitement. Not only had my husband seen I needed an outlet, he took the initiative to make it happen. He even called a banjo instructor and set up lessons for me. At that moment, any resentment I was carrying disappeared. He had listened, he acted, and he delivered.
Momma’s On A Roll
The past year, I have been taking weekly lessons. I practice as much as I can during the week which oddly enough, has brought my family and me closer. The kids actually enjoy listening to me play. Sometimes they’ll grab their toy instruments and join in! My husband will throw out some of his music knowledge to the kids, teaching them words like “tempo”, “melody”, and “harmony”. The weekly, thirty-minute banjo lessons give me time to focus on something that is for me alone. It helps me to grow in confidence as I progress through cords and rolls. I’m given time to miss my kids. When I come home from lessons I feel revived and renewed, jumping back into my role as a mother with much more gusto than when I left.
Playing the banjo has definitely made me a better mother.