Guest post written by Heather Bryant
Once upon a time I used to wear a suit to work.
Each morning I would plod through a labyrinth of cubicles to my lowly station where I would sit for hours on end with a headset on.
From time to time I was required to leave my little den of technology to convene with the other cube dwellers in a boardroom where presentations would drone on for hours. During these meetings I would frequently catch myself daydreaming out the window – fervently planning my exodus …
I had visions of an idyllic little farm – a 100 year old farm house up on a hill with verdant valleys of fields surrounding it. In my vision I wore long white dresses and beautiful, happy children played around my feet as I tended dozens of well-maintained beds of every kind of vegetable and herb imaginable.
Chickens would run around the yard and my little ones would help pick eggs while I baked bread from scratch. The goats would play with the kids and we would drink fresh, raw milk. I would make goat milk soap in my spare time. Each evening I would greet my husband at the door – looking stunning, of course – with a big wet kiss, dinner on the table and someplace for him to rest his weary feet.
Life would be Perfect.
Then I had a baby. She wouldn’t sleep and she nursed All. The. Time. I was fat and tired. I had no time to do anything but take care of her. And then, eight short weeks later, I had to go back to work.
I was determined to continue to breastfeed and would rush over to the daycare every couple of hours to nurse her. When I walked into the daycare she often was on the floor red-faced and screaming.
I cried all the way from the daycare to the office – every time. I would show up to my job disheveled – with cheeks tear-streaked, shirt mis-buttoned, breasts leaking through insufficient pads. The baby still wasn’t sleeping through the night and I was exhausted. I couldn’t concentrate on even the simplest of tasks.
One day I just snapped. I couldn’t take it any longer. I quit.
I left behind the only adult existence I knew and threw myself into this endeavor of stay-at-home motherhood. And, boy, was I surprised. I was totally unprepared for the world that awaited me.
Now I was still exhausted and floundering as a first time mother, but I had no one to talk to during the day and not even a second of privacy – not even in the bathroom. We hadn’t bought our farm yet so I was stuck in a house that wasn’t Perfect and I began to drown in depression. Except I didn’t realize it was postpartum depression because – for me – PPD expressed itself as rage. I was angry with myself, my husband and the world at large.
I also had postpartum OCD and was terrified of germs. I was constantly scrubbing my hands and wiping my daughter with hand sanitizer. I washed all her toys repeatedly and was afraid to take her out of the house lest she get sick. As she got older she, too, became afraid of dirt and bugs because I was so obsessive. (This has since been rectified – you can check out my post of RocketGirl digging in the mud last month.)
I was scared, lonely and angry. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was meant to do. Why couldn’t I figure this out? This was supposed to be easy.
In hindsight, I realize I had a lot more problems than just adjusting to motherhood. My biggest problem was that I didn’t know myself very well.
I wanted to be a mother and a wife – more than anything. That wasn’t the problem. What I didn’t realize was what kind of mother and what kind of wife.
The first thing that I had to do was discover Jesus for myself. Once He was introduced into my life my whole world changed.
Now this was a long, turbulent process, as you probably already know if you are reading this blog. When you hand your life over to Christ it isn’t just all suddenly peaches and roses. You have to let your old, selfish self die.
And I had always been a stubborn one. It took two hard years of ego-wrestling and denial to come to the cross. Then I had to take a long, hard look in the mirror at who I really was and who He wanted me to be.
The Survival Manual
I thrive on order and research. I learn by writing and teaching others. These are the qualities that made me really good at my job. So, after I got my priorities in order, I began to research. I read book after book (from the library, of course, because I was learning to budget) and subscribed to a dozen homemaking blogs, including one of my favorites – Keeper of the Home!
After a year of trial and (mostly) error plus endless hours of research, I finally felt like I had a handle on things so I started compiling all the copious notes I had taken. When I put them all into a format that was useable I realized that I had nearly made myself a survival manual!
I published it this year as a book titled “ From Cube to Farm: Surviving & Thriving as a Stay-at-Home Mom.” It goes into detail on my journey from a career in the cubicle to life as a stay-at-home mom on a farm in the mountains (which we did eventually achieve) and in it I offer a variety of techniques and worksheets to help other moms with this process of self-discovery and survival.