I’ll Never Regret Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

The chair rocked back and forth, my baby’s sniffles the only sound in the quiet room. In the dark, I looked down, and she lifted her head off my chest and smiled at me. I started sobbing. 

At 15 months old, Nora’s not a baby anymore. But she’s still a baby to me. And in the room next door, my middle child, Allie, was sound asleep, dreaming of her very first day of school the following morning. It felt like somebody punched me in the gut with how fast time had gone.

All I could think of were the times I’ve told Allie “no” to playing Barbies or sitting on the couch and watching Paw Patrol with her. The days I’ve been frustrated and yelled when she disobeyed or asked me for one too many snacks. What will she remember of her childhood?

Shouldn’t I have more to show for these years we spent at home? A weekly tradition I’ve established, or pictures on the fridge from arts and crafts time I happily did each week? 

As I continued to rock, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have been a better mom if I had worked outside the home. I imagined having more patience, losing my temper less, and making more time for fun.

// Click over to Her View From Home to read the rest of my essay.

Josey Miller // @storyanthology

The Things Moms Carry

Allie, my five-year-old, watches me from the kitchen table. “How can you carry both things?” she asks. Her big brown eyes are wide.

“Moms can carry lots of things,” I say, holding a box of Rice Krispies in one hand and a gallon of milk in the other.

I continue walking toward the table, placing the plastic jug next to her empty bowl. She clutches the bowl with both hands as I pour the cereal into it.

My response went in one ear and out the other—she just wanted breakfast.

Many things I carry are unseen (or unnoticed).

Some days it looks like love in one hand and resentment in the other. Grateful and irritated. Happy and tired. (And, if I’m being honest, the negative emotion is generally the one I show.) Sometimes, for me, the weight of carrying such big feelings at the same time feels very heavy. (Maybe this is a personality thing? An Enneagram five thing?) And truthfully, it’s hard for me to admit that it’s okay to be both. The ever-present: both/and.

Click over to The Mom Hour to read the rest of my (short) essay.

Photo by: Josey Miller @storyanthology

A Part of Who I Am

“I was a high school counselor before I got married.”

“I have a master’s degree.”

Years ago, I sometimes found myself trying to drop these sentences into conversations. I wasn’t necessarily trying to brag. But as a new mom in a new place who no longer worked full-time—I worried what people would think about me. I wanted people to know that I used to be somebody. Not just somebody’s mom. 

I’m still proud of the degrees I have and the time I spent as a counselor. But, I don’t believe they define me. And honestly, they never did. If anything, those stepping stones brought me to where I am now. If I hadn’t gone to grad school, I wouldn’t have ended up in Bozeman. And if I hadn’t ended up in Bozeman, it’s not likely my path would have crossed with a random grain farmer from the middle of nowhere, Montana. And these three kids? They wouldn’t be here. 

//

Allie had her first day of school last month, and we sat down with the chalkboard to fill in the details about her. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I asked her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Surprising no one, Rhett’s answer the day before had been “a farmer.” But Allie? I didn’t know what she would say. But without hesitation, she said, “I wanna be a cooker. Like you.” 

With her watching, I wrote down “a cooker” in purple ink. 

“You know I do more than cook, right?” I slowly said, immediately realizing this was more about me than her.

“I know. But I like cooking,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. 

I decided there was no point in explaining more to her, and really, who was I trying to prove it to? Once again, I wanted to feel like I was somebody. 

A few weeks ago, my mom was visiting, and we were sitting around the kitchen table for lunch. I pulled a pizza cutter with a decal from a former employer out of a drawer, and sat it next to the steaming pizza.

Rhett grabbed the pizza cutter and said, “Where’d you get this, Mom?”

“I got it from a place I used to work,” I replied. 

“You had a job?” Rhett asked matter-of-factly.

“Your mom had a lot of good jobs,” my mom said. “But being a mom is your favorite, right?” she said, looking at me with a smile. 

I guess the moral of this story is, my kids don’t understand what jobs are. Or maybe they do, and I’m trying to make it more complicated than it is. Allie sees me cooking a lot—because I do. So that’s what she sees as my job. Someday I’ll tell them how I was a high school counselor—peeling back another layer of me.

But for now, they don’t think of being a mom as a job. And maybe that’s a good thing. Even though being a mom is the most demanding job I’ve ever had—I don’t want them to see it as work.

I want them to see it as just another part of who I am. 


//


This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “True.”

Moms Say Sorry, Too // On Coffee + Crumbs

This is my first summer as a mom of three, and I feel like I’m failing.

The smell of burnt hamburger fills the room, intensified by my baby’s sobs from the playmat on the floor. My shoulders rise; the tension is palpable.

“I know, Nora, we’re past your naptime. I’m sorry,” I say, but her crying is only getting louder.  

“Allie, can you please talk to Nora?” I beg my nearly four-year-old. “I’m almost ready; then we’ll take dinner out to Dad and the guys in the field, okay?”

“Hey, No-yah,” Allie croons as she kneels beside her baby sister. She starts making silly faces at Nora as I turn back toward the stove. Then, realizing how big the flames are on my new gas range, I turn down the knob.

I spoon the slightly burned taco meat into each flour tortilla, the steam rising from the green Dutch oven with each scoop. Allie abandons her big sister duty to watch me and climbs up the off-white drawers—the black handles perfect ladders for her tiny bare feet. 

Nora’s crying continues, so I walk to the front door and grab her car seat. After placing it on the floor beside the stove, I pick her up and snuggle her to my chest.

“I’m sorry, Nora,” I whisper in her ear while rubbing her back. Then, I lower her into the car seat and buckle her in.

“Allie, can you get her pacifier from my room, please?”

Allie jumps from the counter, her long dark hair bouncing down her back. I continue putting together the tacos, rocking the seat with my foot. A bead of sweat trickles down my face, and I wipe it away with the back of my hand. The blistering August heat combined with the gas range and the witching hour makes the late afternoons nearly unbearable.

“Here you go, baby,” says Allie, as she shoves the pacifier into Nora’s mouth.

Nora begins to rapidly suck the pink owl WubbaNub while rubbing her eyes. Turning back to the stove, my shoulders drop, and I let out a sigh. I tear off a sheet of aluminum foil, covering the last plate of tacos, and Nora begins to scream again. Grabbing the car seat handle with one hand, in a last attempt to calm her, I begin to swing it back and forward quickly. Soon, I realize she isn’t making any noise—the kind of quiet that scares me rather than comforts. Looking down, she is bright red, and her cries have taken her breath away. Her eyes scrunch closed—then she lets out a huge wail.

“I’m so sorry, Nora. I didn’t mean to scare you!” Immediately, I unbuckle the straps and pull her out of the seat. Then, with her clutched to my chest, I gently bounce her, continuing to whisper my apologies into her ear.

Despite my wish to keep holding Nora, I strap her back in the car seat.

Allie stands by the coat rack at the door, silent, with her eyes locked onto me and her sister. Looking down at her feet, I see she has on her pink cowgirl boots. “You ready? I ask.

“Yup, I got my boots on!” she says.

Then, I load the girls and all the food into the pickup, and we take off down the road.

“Mom, does she think you’re a monster?” Allie asks, her legs dangling below the seat, swinging back and forth. Her gaze fixed out the window.

My eyes are focused on the gravel road, shoulders still tense. “What?” I ask.

“She thinks you’re a monster,” Allie states, her legs still swinging.

“Who does?” I ask, looking at her through the rear view mirror.

“Nora,” she says, pointedly.

“I don’t think so,” I say, shrugging my shoulders, my hands still firm on the wheel.

Allie stares out the window, watching the harvested fields pass by. Her interest in the conversation is gone. I look at the clock, thinking Nora should be in bed sleeping, not just napping in the back seat. But I picture the guys in the field with hours of seeding ahead of them, their packed lunches long gone. I know they need dinner.

I hit the brake to ease into the field, and then it clicks.

Monster. 

She wonders if Nora thinks I’m a monster because I said, “I’m sorry I scared you.”

//

Click over to Coffee + Crumbs to read the rest of my essay.

The Long Days of Harvest


I’m tired. And I know the crew is too. I hate how easily I snap at the kids at this point of harvest.

In the brief moments when Rich is home, all three kids climb all over him, clambering for his attention. I usually stand in the background, watching. Partly because I love seeing how much they love him and miss him. But also because I don’t know where to start. What do I say that I haven’t had the chance to in the last month? It feels like I have everything and yet, nothing to share—all at the same time.

During the day, I listen to the conversations on our farm two-way radio. It helps me feel a bit included knowing some of what’s happening in the field.

A couple of times, Rhett has said, “Mom, the radio’s not for you.” At my lowest moments, I take this to heart. He says what I’m thinking, and I assume everyone feels about me—I’m not needed.

But, the other night in the field, one of our employees said, “Your meals are what get us through. It’s the best part of the day.”

In this season of my life, I often feel like I’m “just the cook” or “just the mom.”

But sometimes, a meal is more than a meal.

And a mom is always more than “just the mom.”


//

This was originally posted on my Instagram.

A Little Bit Nervous

The school supply list has been printed off and sitting on my desk for the last month. I’ve been a little excited about getting to shop for two kids this fall for back-to-school. Partly because I felt like Allie would be excited to pick things out, while Rhett doesn’t seem to have any preferences. And I’ll admit, it’s also because I love new pens, pencils, and notebooks.

The other morning, the supply list crossed my mind, and I pictured the already picked-over aisles at Target. “We need to go to town and get your supplies for school,” I told Allie. She was sitting on the counter, watching me make Malt-O Meal for breakfast.

“I’m excited,” she paused, playing with the fabric of her pajamas. Then, her head dropped, “But I’m going to be a little bit nervous.”

I put down the spatula, then wrapped my arms around her and squeezed her tight, “I’m going to be a little bit nervous too. I’m going to miss you.” She pulled her head back and looked at me, “I know.” 

Letting her go, I turned away from her, then blinked back the unexpected tears on this random Wednesday. I’ve already sent Rhett to school, and honestly, I wasn’t sure what feelings to expect about Allie going to school. Since Rhett started kindergarten last fall, she has wanted to go to school too. At least once a week last year, she asked, “When can I go to school?” My response was, “Next year.” Then, “In a few months.” Now, looking at the calendar, my response will be, “In a few weeks.” 

Allie was my baby for three and a half years. She’s a constant at my side. When Rhett went to all-day kindergarten last fall, it didn’t feel like a huge shock since he had spent most of the summer away from me in the harvest field. But Allie? While she spends a few hours here and there away from me, she’s mostly at home.

Thinking back to my pregnancy with her, the excitement, wonder, and magic weren’t muted—just because it was our second baby. So I guess it’s not surprising that the sadness, excitement, and disbelief feels the same as it did when Rhett went to Pre-K a couple of years ago. But somehow, it still caught me off guard. All the cliches flood my mind, “Wasn’t she just a baby yesterday?” “How did the time go by so fast?” 

This fall, she will be in Pre-K three half-days a week, and for that, I’m grateful. This coming year will be like dipping our toes into our time apart, hopefully making the plunge into all-day kindergarten next year a little less shocking.

I know I can’t go back in time or slow time down. But I plan to be intentional with these final weeks of summer. I want to take pictures I don’t plan to post, scroll less, and say yes a bit more.

For now, school is still a few weeks away. And I’ll keep making breakfast every morning and soaking up the last bits of time I’ll remember as “before she was in school.”

Happy First Birthday, Nora!

“Mom, when’s she gonna be bigger?” Allie asked, looking at Nora.

“What do you mean? She is big! And getting bigger every day!” I said, already defensive with Nora’s birthday only a few days away.

“No, she’s not,” Allie insisted. 

On that day, I didn’t say it, but all I could think of was at that moment a year ago, Nora wasn’t even born yet. And now, here she is, with seven (!!) teeth, crawling all over the house and able to stand for a few seconds by herself. In one short year, she went from a baby who slept the majority of the day to crashing her walker into whatever gets in her way. She says mama, dada, and bye-bye. She knows she’s not supposed to get into the dog’s dish, yet she smiles and crawls faster toward the bowl, hoping to get there before I catch her.

From my perspective, Nora is big. And it breaks my mama heart a little bit, knowing that today is her first birthday.

But from Allie’s four-year-old perspective, she’s tiny. Nora still can’t do all the things Allie can do. Despite Allie’s wish for Nora to be “bigger,” I vividly remember the day this winter when Nora crawled for the first time. She went straight for Allie’s stuff, and Allie wasn’t impressed with Nora’s newfound skill. (And she’s been getting into their toys ever since.)

I enjoy watching my kids get bigger and learning new things—like writing, reading, and riding a bike. But I think I’ll always miss them when they were babies.

***

Nora, 

From the moment you arrived in the front seat of our pickup, you’ve kept us on our toes. (You’ve also kept me sleep-deprived, but that’s not what this is about.) You have the best smile that lights up your whole face. I love your chubby cheeks, which can only be described as doughy, and I’ve kissed them countless times. I hope never to forget the soft, buttery feel of your skin and how tiny your toes and fingers are. (Okay, I’ll stop before spiraling too much, and your dad gets concerned about me eating you.)

I love how excited you get when your dad gets home, crawling to the door to meet him. And how even though you spend the majority of your time with me, you spend most of the day saying, “Dada.” (If you would like to start calling for Dad at night, go right ahead.) 

I love how you bounce on your knees, waving your arms around, screeching for me to pick you up. I never want to forget the way you turn your head and giggle when I catch you eating toilet paper in the bathroom (again).

You’re our only baby to take a pacifier. I love watching you stroke the Wubba-Nubba on your face, as you hum with contentment. At night, on the monitor, I sometimes see you reaching out and searching in the crib to find it in the dark. Then you rub the owl’s ears between your fingers, plugging the pacifier back into your mouth. Then slowly, you fall back asleep with your hand clutched around its body. 

Your fluffy hair, which surprisingly seems to have a hint of auburn in the light, and your gray eyes (or are they hazel?), are a reminder of how different and unique God has made each of my children. Also, you have the beginnings of a fabulous mullet. 

And even though you’re much bigger than you were a year ago, your head still fits just right in the crook of my neck, resting on my shoulder. I can’t help but wonder if you still recognize the beat of my heart. 

This past year has gone by in a flash, yet so much has changed it sometimes feels longer. You’ve changed. I’ve changed. 

And I can’t imagine our family without you.

Happy First Birthday, Nora Kate. 

Love,
Me

Farmer’s Wife

When I married a farmer, I didn’t realize one of my biggest roles would be feeding people.

Years ago, Rich occasionally showed up at the house before noon, asking, “Could you make the guys lunch?”

Now, I anticipate before he even asks. There are certain seasons when he will need me to make lunch (or dinner) for our employees. 

Lately, Allie has been saying, “I wanna be a cooker. Like you, Mom!”

Initially, those words stung. Is that all she thinks of me?

But, when I think about it, Allie doesn’t just see me as someone who cooks. She sees how we gather around our table, in the kitchen, or in the field—the food bringing us together.

Because isn’t that what farmers do? Farmers feed the world. And it starts with the farmer’s wife feeding the farmer.

(This was first posted on my Instagram, but I wanted it to have a home on my own space.)

Dreaming of Someone I Used to Know

I unload the last box from my car and close the door to the apartment behind me. Turning back, I remember to lock the deadbolt, then collapse on the floor between the boxes. 

My mom walks into the living room, “Well, it’s all in! Do you want to start unpacking now or eat dinner first?” 

“Let’s order something in. My first take-out in the city!” I start to search on my phone for Thai take-out, excited to have so many choices right at my fingertips. 

“How are you feeling?” she asks, placing her purse on the kitchen counter. “The apartment is really nice.” She looks around approvingly. “Lots of good light.” 

“I’m thankful to not be in a basement apartment anymore.” I laugh, remembering the sound of the dogs running above me in my last apartment. “I can’t believe I’m here—that I actually moved. It still feels a bit unreal.” 

She nods, “I can’t believe you’re going to be so far from home. But I’m proud of you. I haven’t been to Seattle since I was a kid. What day does your job start, again?”

“Orientation for the new employees is Tuesday. I’ll get to meet some of the other counselors then too. So I have a few days to unpack and maybe explore the neighborhood a bit,” I reply. 

“That’s good you have a few days to settle in first,” she says. 

“I hate unpacking,” I sigh. “Thanks for coming with me to help. Maybe one of these times it will be a last move,” I say, laughing.

The food arrives and we sit in silence until the rain begins to fall—the sound filling the room. The temperature seems to drop suddenly, and I begin to shiver. Looking around at the boxes, I rummage through them until I find a sweatshirt and quickly pull it over my head.

//

Click here to read the rest of my essay at Kindred Mom.

Marrying a Farmer Isn’t What I Expected

Recently, a fellow farm wife asked me, “Was marrying a farmer what you expected?” 

I thought back to the summer before my farmer and I were married. In the evening after work, I would drive out to the farm, park my car, and hop into the buddy seat of the combine. Butterflies popped up in my stomach as my arm brushed against his tan, muscular arm. He had one hand on the wheel, with his eyes focused on the field in front of him. Our conversations ranged from wedding plans to harvest and the yield from the crop. (The farm talk mostly went in one ear and out the other.) It was just us, and we had our whole lives in front of us.

The sunset—lighting the prairie sky on fire, painting it red and orange. A beautiful contrast against the amber waves of grain rolling ahead of the sharp blades of the combine header. 

Eventually, the bright colors began to fade, giving way to a night sky. He still had more cutting to do, but I stepped down the ladder at the edge of the field. Turning to wave to him, I pulled my jacket around me—the heat of the day yielding to a cool summer evening. I went back to my apartment, where the dust bunnies were full of dirt, no cow manure or stray wheat. And my dryer vent only had lint—no kernels of wheat or straw mixed in with the blue lint. 

Shaking my head at the memory, I replied, “You know, I don’t know if I knew what to expect.” Then I laughed. “Farm life had a romantic feel to it. But I wasn’t living on the farm; I could come and go. I didn’t know what I was getting into.”

//

Click here to read the rest of my essay at Her View From Home.