The Millennial Stay at Home Mom: Is This an Endangered Species?
When one hears the term “Stay at Home Mom”, they may think of a frazzled woman in sweats and a messy bun, small children clinging to her legs while the house around her falls into disrepair.
The all too often assumption is that this mid-to-late 30's mom decided to stay at home with her kids after leaving a career she kickstarted before settling down.
Well, I'm one of a group of millennials who have chosen to be a stay at home parent from the get-go. Some days I feel like part of an endangered species.
Here's my experience:
First, a little about myself. I'm almost 26 years old and I have a bachelor’s degree in Integrative Studies with concentrations in Human Services and Sociology. I chose that course of study because I love learning about people and want to help others. I interned with the Department of Family and Child Services in my county during my studies and spent many weekends volunteering with a therapeutic horseback riding program for special needs individuals. I'm also the director of the preschool ministry at my church and I've been volunteering in children’s ministry since I was a teen.
I was married at 20 years old to my high school sweetheart and we are still happily married five years later. I became pregnant at age 22 while in the process of preparing for college graduation and going to job interviews. Sadly, I suffered a miscarriage. After that miscarriage, I felt strongly confirmed in my decision to become a mother. I planned to get a job and also get pregnant again soon after my loss. However, many people advised me to just focus on myself and my marriage. I was so young and parenting is hard, they would say. Even my doctor told me to focus on finding a job and then try for a baby. That had been my plan originally, but I was unable to find a job before my first son was born. So my husband and I came to the decision that I would stay at home.
Not many people can say they got married, earned a degree, and had two children before age 26. Most of my mom friends are older than me. I remember being so excited when one of my friends became pregnant because she is around my age. Now we have a few stay at home parents in our circle of millennial friends.
It’s not easy being a part of our generation and being a parent. My husband and I both look very young. I remember being in the checkout line at Walmart and the cashier saw me pushing my oldest son in a cart. She said: “You have a baby already? You don’t look more than 18 years old!” I was 23 at that time. She was not the only person to make comments. Many doctors and nurses made comments while I was in labor. They noted how young my husband and I look and said they were amazed that we actually decided and planned to have two children in our twenties. In my church circle, however, it seems more acceptable. I live in the south, also known as the “Bible Belt”, and it seems more common here for people to marry and start families young.
Overall, I can say that being a stay at home mom has been a positive experience. I've been able to spend what little free time I have volunteering at my church. I've also been able to work on blogging and writing. I noticed that a lot of “mommy blogs” seemed to not have a lot of variation in topics. I aim to write about not only my experience being a mother but also other things about which I am passionate. I'm also in the beginning stages of writing a novel focusing on a young woman with an anxiety disorder. As a person with an anxiety disorder, I'd like to bring more awareness to the issue and help reduce the stigma around mental health.
It's important to me that I have an identity other than “stay at home mom”. As a millennial, I often hear people talking about trying to figure out their identity and what they want to do with their lives. Personally, I don't know exactly what I'm going to do once my children are older. I do know that I'd like to become more accomplished as a writer. I'd love to eventually get a job in the field of Human Services working with children and families. I'm also considering going back to school someday for a Master’s degree in either Social Work or Public Administration.
In the meantime, I'm focusing on providing a good environment for my children to learn and grow. I'm honestly not very good at keeping up with laundry and keeping the house in tip-top shape. Many days, I feel extremely overwhelmed. Sometimes when I take my children places, I worry that I'll be viewed differently as a parent because I'm a millennial. I know there are so many negative stereotypes about people my age, in general. But this is the path I've chosen and I'm learning to be more confident in myself and my parenting every day.
Julia Townsend is a guest blogger for the Przekop Design Company.