Someone asked me if I had a hard time transitioning from being a working person to being a stay-at-home wife and mom (SAHWM). I have blogged about being a SAHWM and the changes it brought me but in snippets. This time, I will be talking fully about it.
This was the reason I decided to be a stay at home mom. But before I did, I had a thriving business and I have to be honest and say that the jump was scary.
I remember in college, although marriage and kids were not even on my mind, I told my best friend that my plan was to be a homemaker/housewife and to throw luncheons and dinner parties. She jokingly retorted, “Hindi housewife ang tawag dun! Socialite!” which was akin to her telling me that what I wanted was impossible. Hahaha! So I guess the pull to being home was there from the very beginning. In fact, when J and I got married, we were planning that I would be a stay-at-home wife. So yes, the pull was there. Some of my friends from U.P. were telling me that they could not imagine being a SAHWM and they would die of boredom. That was never my concern. Still when we finally (J and I) decided to take the plunge, it was not easy for me.
My mom was a career person and except for one aunt, all of the adult females of my childhood were working women. I was very surprised though that my Mom was supportive of my decision to be a SAHWM. She was much more supportive of it than my decision to be a wedding planner! Hehehe! Also, I think I got it good because I seldom got insulting comments and retorts. Except for a couple of friends saying that they could not imagine stopping work, no one told me “Sayang ang pinag-aralan mo!” or words to that effect. I think it was because the way I presented myself did not give much opportunity for them to say that.
So if I had a supportive mom (and you have to admit, most SAHWMs have a hard time defending to their career moms their decisions) and did not get insults, what made it hard? The difficulty came from how I saw myself.
A month after I quit wedding planning, J and I went to a block screening of a movie. Most of the attendees were from J’s field. After being introduced as J’s wife, someone asked me if I was also from the finance industry. When I said no, he asked what I did. J explained and that sexist person (sorry, can’t help it! LOL!) said “Ahhhh! Sa bahay lang!” The “lang” angered me so much. I wanted to say, “Pusta ako, mas matalino ako sa iyo eh!” I was just so angry. I felt that I had to prove myself. I felt that I had to prove that I was much more than the stereotypical stay-at-home wife and mom, that I had subtance, that I was actually able to build and manage a successful business. And over the course of the next several months, there were various times I felt that way.
One of my core memories during my adjustment phase was a fight J and I had. We were talking about treating my family (of origin) to a restaurant and J jokingly said we should just order Jollibee. I lost my temper big time. I asked him how come we could afford to spend for hotel dinners for his family but not for mine. He was shocked at my reaction. (Wait, just to be clear and to be objective, J does spend for my family and since I have a bigger family, a restaurant eat out with my family actually meant a bigger bill.) On hindsight, I knew I should not have reacted that way. My husband knew I did not like Jollibee for Jia and was playing a joke on me. Instead of laughing, I lashed out at him. He was very frustrated with me. Then I realized, ang yabang ko kasi eh kaya ako sobrang nagalit. Parang hindi ako pwede asarin. It was a manifesation of my insecurity.
Because not having my own job meant not having my own money, the first several months saw me buying so many things. You know how when you do not have money, you tend to spend more? Haha! That was what happened to me. I was very thankful that I had a husband who did not utter a word. 🙂
Oh, do not get me wrong, I was happy with my decision but sometimes the insecurity and the loneliness surfaced. I did not like mysef much during those times but it was what it was. It did not happen often, probably once every few weeks. Most of the time, I was happy and content. On hindsight, it was majorly because my self-concept was not in sync with reality. I took pride in what I did as a wedding planner – I provided jobs, I helped couples create their beautiful beginnings, I was able to make people happy. That was my self-concept, how I thought of myself. In reality, I was a mom, period. I was not even much of a wife. When I was still working, I had stimulating and creative conversations everyday. When I stopped working, I mostly had to carry one-sided conversation with my kids. My deepest conversation with Jia probably had to do with play dough. Haha!
I was hungry for adult conversations. Umabot na sa punto na sa sobra ko sabik makipag-usap, pati mga problema ng kapitbahay at kamag-anak ng yaya ko, alam ko. To make matters worse, because my husband was also adjusting to being the sole breadwinner, he became so busy so less time for the two of us.
So what changed? What made me go from that to where I am now – a person who fully embraces being a stay at home wife and mom and extremely content with it? Well, nothing changed with the circumstances; I did. The good thing about me is I have always been self-aware. I knew where my insecurity and loneliness were coming from. I made a conscious decision to change my outlook. I had to remember that being a SAHWM was my decision and it was the best decision for our kids and our family. It had nothing to do with my abilities and skills.
What really helped me was gratitude. I am not saying that everyone should stay at home but just having the choice was a blessing. Just being grateful changed my life. Having the opportunity to actually be present in the kids’ everyday life was amazing. After that, I never felt the need to explain my decisions nor to prove myself. This change came with other changes in my life. Maybe it was just the added years but I became more patient and, I think, became more wise. I think this is also because I consciously surrounded myself with positive people and do away with those who carried negative energy. I have always liked myself but I liked myself more after this.
When I felt better, the opportunities to further improve myself also came. I was able to train as a breastfeeding counselor, I had tickled moms, and now I am a Positive Discipline Parent Educator. Ang galing ng Diyos. Sa tamang panahon.
Being a stay-at-home wife and more specifically, being on allowance mode (love this euphemism! haha!), I think, has also benefited our marriage so much. Before, I would actually play scenes in my mind of fights that might result to a separation and I would be okay with it because I was financially independent. Being financially DEpendent changed me because it humbled me enough to truly appreciate my marriage and my husband. I know my 18-year-old-mala-Gabriela self is cringing right now. Haha! In fact, just early this year, one of my classmates from UP Diliman told me that she never would have guessed that I would turn out this way. Hahaha! I guess I needed that humility to truly realize the effort my husband was making in order to provide for us while still being involved with the kids’ lives and the household affairs.
That gratefulness and appreciation of my husband, I think, made me a better wife, or at least, there was more effort on my part to be one (Haha! Kelangan ko kumabig, baka masabihan ako na hindi naman!). As a result, my husband also became more vocal about how much he appreciated me and what I did for him and the kids. I am learning to submit to him (most of the time) and I feel cherished as a wife. A better marriage between my husband and me means a stonger foundation for our kids. The changes were holistic and created what Jia and I call “a cycle of good events”. 🙂
Do I have plans of going back to work? Hopefully, not in the near future. Right now, I can see how important that I stay home for the kids. J and I are so very clear about this that we have agreed that as long as we can afford it, I will stay at home. If ever there comes a time when I would have to work full time outside of the home, then I also know that I will be able to embrace it. For now, this life rocks!