The Battle Cry of a Stay-At-Home-Mom

Battle Cry of a Stay-At-Home MomI sit cross-legged in the middle of my living room. Two worlds colliding. “Do you want any of this sewing fabric?” My husband asks. “No.” We are cleaning the garage. Getting rid of the old junk and making way for the new junk. Suddenly he turns to me and says, “I feel like I am sifting through a different life.”

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Eight years ago this week. Chris and I got married. We met in Boulder, CO and after a bumpy start to our friendship, found we had more in common than we originally thought. The outdoors. We hiked, backpacked, climbed and adventured together. One and a half years into our marriage, we were stumbling home on a sweltering 98 degree day, with a new tag-a-along. Our daughter was born and inadvertently our lives flipped upside down. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom. I love my three kids. They help me see the world in ways I would surely miss if this life was left just for me. But having kids rocked my boat.

My mental picture of motherhood just didn’t jive with the mental picture I had formed of MY life. I thought being a mother involved things like sewing, cooking, play-groups, cute outfits with matching accessories, and most of all being home. (By the way, if these are your passions I think that is great. I have many a blessed friend gifted in these areas and I love watching them create with their hands. It just isn’t me!) Chris and I had decided when we got married that we wanted one parent home with our kids…and being that he is the one who got a degree in something high paying, I was the natural choice. So a stay-at-home mom I would be. And I took my role to heart. I stayed home. I made my own bed linens. I progressed in the culinary arts. I mastered cleaning the shower and showering at the same time.

And slowly I began to die inside. Three kids later, I was talking to an older woman I highly respected and she said, “It just seems like you haven’t figured out who you are yet.” Ah! I wanted to cry. In fact, I did. I got home and exclaimed to my husband, “I know exactly who I AM! I just don’t have any idea how to make it work with being a mom…” Luckily, this is about when we decided things had to change.

Climbing at Challenge Butress

So we started climbing again, in a gym at first. We bought the gear needed to get us out the door and took to the trail like a family of ducks…all waddling up the hill. Three years later, we live in Utah now and I finally feel at peace with life. My husband and I founded the Kid Project to share our journey with other outdoor lovers. Having three kids under the age of seven, most of what we do isn’t “epic.” And yet because of them….it all seems “epic.” Despite three months of winter, we still got outside climbing 45 days last year. And probably 30 of those were with the kids. We took them to summit their first mountain (Sunset Peak) last summer and taught them all how to ski this winter. I’ve realized being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you have to stay at home! The thought behind it is being with your kids and not handing them off to someone else.

So who am I? I am just a girl standing at the bottom of some rock wall and wondering, “Can we get up there?” I am inspired by untracked snow. Riveted by jagged peaks. I am a mom. I worry about my kid’s safety. I cried when I let my 6-year-old daughter go to CO for a three day trip with Dad to work and visit friends. I get sick of cleaning and even sicker of a dirty house. I hate taking out the trash. And most the photos of me look like the one below…cause I am usually behind the camera. 🙂

self portrait

I go to church weekly and love that they have a climbing wall in the lobby. 🙂 I love Oreos. I need concrete goals to motivate me. And I just ran my first 11 mile run…something I thought couldn’t be done. In three weeks I plan on running 13.1 miles.

Most people probably think we are crazy. I’ve had to embrace the fact that my daughters will likely know how to work a camping stove better than a Kitchen Aid. That they will have mastered the art of hot dogs over a fire before learning to make a cake. I love that my son calls camelots “gears” and has to have the biggest one on his harness when climbing so he can be just like Dad.  I’ve had to accept that my girls don’t have a clue how to do a cart-wheel but know how to undercling. And I can laugh when my daughter who had never walked a dog before asked if she could “belay the dog.”

boy, hot chocolate, goggles

We are amazingly normal. We often arrive at the crag grouchy and stressed from a morning of getting the kids out the door. Usually my two-year-old is sporting her favorite tutu under her climbing harness and my son tells us he’ll only climb if he we call him spider-man. My goal this summer? To lead my first trad climb. While I love trad, I just don’t trust my ability to make a solid placement. Chris, the engineer, looks at the rock and his rack and sees load bearing equations, mathematical angles, and can think his way through a good placement. Me…I see colors. “Oh…the purple cam looks good. It is pretty…”

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I glance around the living room. Boxes of material, knitting yarn and thread, pictures and craft boxes all tossed on one side. Dusty and discarded. Deuter packs, approach shoes, hydration systems and an assortment of climbing and backpacking gear lining the other half of the room. Indeed it was like looking back on a different life. One I feel free to say just was never me.

I turned back to my husband. “I am just not a seamstress or scapbooker or even a cook, though I cook a lot. We can toss most of it.” (Though these are awesome skills. I’ll probably come looking for you when I tear my favorite pants on some climb this summer and need someone to organize our trip photos.) “In fact, we can get rid of all this. I don’t have time for it. I don’t want to have time for it. I’d rather being doing what we do. I’d rather be climbing or hiking or skiing, or planning our next trip.” Being a mom is about bringing your passions, eccentricities and joys into the world of parenting. Not about dismissing them all for a life of duty.

I am a stay at home mom…but that doesn’t mean I stay at home. 🙂

mom on the trail

28 comments on “The Battle Cry of a Stay-At-Home-Mom
  1. Amen, sista! I am so with you. I grew up amongst a family of women who cooked and baked from scratch, sewed all their kids clothes, jarred their food and always kept the house tidy. I never learned a thing from them because I was always outside playing and I continue to play outside instead of doing those things. I believe we are raising J-Man the right way, our right way, when he comes home from school asking to go hiking and camping.

    So happy you found a way to balance your passions and desires with being a mom.

    • Terrific post, one I can definitely identify with. I’m a bit ahead of you down the road. While I wasn’t a stay at home mom, I worked 4 days a week and I definitely am NOT Martha Stewart. My girls are teenagers now and can climb 5.11a and would rather sleep in a tent than rent a condo on vacation. Finding other families to play with outdoors makes all the difference in the world and motivates the kids to play outside too. My girls grew up in a NJ mall culture, but every weekend we drove up to the Gunks and climbed, hiked and geocached with other families.Climbing won out and they hate shopping malls. I started a family climbing group at the Gunks and we now have over 80 families on my mailing list. (note to self: write a blog post about setting that up). Anyway, you have the right idea and you will enjoy having children that share your passions. I have other tips in a blog post I wrote about making climbing time family time. If you have any other ideas to share with other climbing parents, please comment on the post, I’d love to hear them. http://cliffmama.com/blog/climbing-with-kids-family-climbing/

  2. I love reading your posts. And this one really gave me hope for the future Mom that I hope to be. I love that you put it out into the universe that it is perfectly fine not to be the “typical” stay-at-home Mom if your passions revolve more around the outdoors and adventure. One day when I have kids, this is the type of Mom that I want to be! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Great post Alyssa 🙂 I love that I’ve gotten to meet so many like minded mamas. I think our kids are learning whats truly important in life.

  4. Even then, you don’t need to break out the scrapbooking supplies! Go to http://mypublisher.com, it is the best.
    But thank you, my husband and I are considering starting a family soon and we really want to be able to continue doing the things we love like rock climbing, camping, and hiking! Thank you for giving me some hope that it can be done!

  5. Beautifully stated. I can relate to this on many levels.

    I’m a “stay at home mom” too (with 3 kids), but I don’t necessarily identify with that label. I would much rather be writing or reading or traveling or hiking or thinking up business ideas than…doing laundry or sewing, etc. 😉

  6. I don’t usually respond to blogs but in this case I just had to make an exception to say, thank you. Thank you for putting into words what I have been trying so hard to express. Thank you for giving me permission to feel this way so that I can quiet the voices in my head that tell me it must be sin feel stifled. Thank you for giving me hope that it is possible to do more with children than the traditional playdate. I can’t wait to share this with my husband and tell him that I know what I need! That’s to stop trying so hard to fit into the suburban town we currently live in and have more adventures so that my soul can feel free again! It sounds cheesy but that’s the truth! Thank you for inspiring me!

  7. this is an encouragement. I still feel lost as a mom, although I love being a mom. Sometimes I just feel like I am in someone else’s life! Whew, I am glad I am not the only woman to ever feel this way, and I am encouraged that you found out how to be the best mom that YOU can be. I will too….somehow, someday.

    • Hannah – I complete understand! Another thought – I’ve found my place as a mom easier as my kids got older. Some people just aren’t baby people. Not that I don’t love babies. But… ya know?

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  9. This is so timely! I love how you put it. Coming out on our adventure, traveling, and living a less than “normal” life has been a complete wake up call for me. Having rock climbed, mountain biked, and river rafted my way through college – then had kids and been diverted – I feel like I’m finally coming back into myself. It is a glorious feeling!

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  11. Alyssa, this is so encouraging! I know it is not new but I am glad you re-posted it. I am taking my daughters (now 4 and 2) camping this weekend by myself. And I keep wondering if I am making a big mistake. This is empowering to me at the perfect time! Hope to run into you about town more often.

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