“We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are.”
Tonight I finished up my day on my hands and knees wiping up my kitchen floor with a clorox wipe. Kind of a sissy way of cleaning up but I was too tired and unmotivated to really clean it. Afterwards I made my way upstairs to clean up the tub water my son had dumped out during his bath. I got down on my hands and knees again and cleaned up the floor, picked up the toys, hung up the bath towels and picked up a couple of diapers to be thrown away on my way out of the bathroom. To not drag this out, I counted four different times that I was on my hands and knees crawling, wiping, picking up, folding. I finally stopped to look in the mirror. Wow. My hair looked greasy, I had what looked like three new zits forming, my breath stunk and I in general stunk. “I’m sure my husband will be so excited to be with me when he gets home”…what a humble place to be.
I never pictured this stage of my life like this. I remember as a child watching my mom and thinking, “Man, is she lucky, she gets to stay home ALL DAY LONG! What does she do all day? I cannot wait till I get to do that.” One particular time I remember asking her to take me to a friend’s house after school and she said she couldn’t because she “had a million things to do”. Really? Really? I thought. How could that be true. “Like what mom?”. Oh did she get mad. “One day Sarah, you just wait, one day”. I had no idea.
That’s what brings me to now. Here I am, a stay at home mom. A mother, a wife. And I now get it mom. This has been a very difficult transition for me! I don’t know if it’s because I was so socially involved before becoming a mom or what, but being at home full time has been rough. I love it one minute and then something happens I get frustrated. My son poops in the tub and I get super frustrated and not to mention sick too! I get it all cleaned up and feel good about things again. I read him a story and I’m in heaven. Then he screams for an hour because he’s tired, yet doesn’t want to sleep and I’m frustrated again. I sneak in a quick shower and rush around the house during his nap and trying to get a couple things done feeling rushed and stressed. Up and down. Up and down. All day long up and down. I’ve definitely gotten better at handling the ups and downs as my son’s gotten older, but on days like today I just don’t feel too excited about going through it all over again tomorrow. The routine.
I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m not really sure if it’s “woman thing” or a “just the way my parents were” thing, or “just the way I am” sorta thing, but I’ve always sought validation from sources outside of myself. I think maybe it’s a little of all of three “my parents, woman in general, and just the way I am” thing. Growing up I always felt that in order to be worthwhile I had to BE something. I had to be busy and super involved in everything. I wasn’t enough just me by myself. I had to earn my keep. In high school I worked like crazy to get good grades and special recognition. I eventually became student body president of my high school. Ironically, I think had the votes been determined on self-confidence and healthy self-image there is no way I would have had a chance. I don’t want to totally discount myself however, I was and am a very social person so being in leadership definitely was my niche, but it would be foolish for me not to recognize that eventually I relied on it to feel like I was worth something. I know now that having some validation is important. It’s just about finding a healthy balance.
It’s taken a lot of self-introspection and experience (namely depression) to really help me see that I’m important because of who I am, not because of what I do. When you given an experience that sends you hitting rock bottom, all you have left is yourself. Depression prevented me from running at the pace I was used to. I had little motivation to do anything. I was so easily overwhelmed. I couldn’t hide behind a busy schedule or a list of titles. All I had was me. That was a tough realization for me. But I’m so glad that it happened, because now I feel like I’m really getting in touch with me, just me, not the titles or the lists of things I do, but just me. I’m learning what I like and what I want to change.
What defines me the most right now is my family. My husband and son are the most important things to me. They are my family, they are my life. When I say that I realize that most of what I do is about them. That’s pretty cool. However, there’s been many times where I open up to my husband and tell him that I don’t feel like I’m doing a great job. I didn’t clean up, the laundry isn’t done, I look like crap, I’m not very good at this I tell him. You don’t have to be perfect he says. Well I know that I say. I’m not trying to be perfect I say. But wait, is that true? When I take a step back I’m realizing that maybe my expectations of myself are a little high.
As a mom I’m trying to find balance. Balance between being a good mom and devoting myself to my family and still keeping my identity. I ask myself, why am I doing this? Is it because I don’t feel good enough about myself that I need something to make me feel important? Or am I doing it because I’m genuinely interested in it, I have a passion for it, the opportunity presents itself and I’m taking it! Classic example. I have a lot of friends that have chosen to be stay at home moms that also have a little side jobs. Whether it’s going back to school, doing online classes, photography, etsy shops, make-up, decorating, hair, sewing and selling, the list goes on and on. Whenever I hear about a new “side thing” one of my friends is doing, I get all insecure. What’s my “side thing”? I’m JUST a mom I begin to think. It makes me want to rush out and start doing a little something extra so when people ask me what I’m doing I’ll have more to say than “I’m at home with my son”.
This is the part I’m working on. The problem isn’t having “side things” as a mom. The problem is why am I doing them? Why do I want to do them? Is it to make me feel important? Do I need it to feel good about myself? Am I embarrassed of the path I’ve chosen to stay at home? Do I feel like what I’m doing is important? There’s lots to ask myself. I’m learning that having “side things” is vital as a mom. You need to feel passionate about something. Otherwise the daily routine will take over and you’ll soon become frustrated. But stop and ask yourself why you want to do something before you get into it. The honest truth is if we’re always seeking something to fill our self-confidence cup we will always be hungry for something, it will always be a temporary fix. I know that I’m still in the process. I’m working on feeling good about myself. Of not being afraid to give myself praise for the little things I do daily that nobody sees. Of being confident in saying “Yes, I’m a stay at home mom” and not feeling like I need to add anything else on to the end of that statement. Of finding and keeping little hobbies I’m passionate about that help me discover more about myself and feel excited about life yet at the same time not using them to define my worth.