As a blogger, I read a lot of blogs, and am on Facebook a lot to promote my work. I love to see how other moms are spending their days as a way to find people facing the same things I do from day to day. But there is one big thing a lot of people don't talk about.
They talk about their perfect decor, the fabulous developmental activities for kids, how perfect their hair looks, or how beautiful their cookies are. They show smiling faces, never have clutter in the background, and are seemingly perfect at... EVERYTHING.
Oh, and their kids are angels, they sit down for dinner, are doing long division in preschool and wear perfectly pressed outfits because they are the BEST. MOTHERS. EVER.
If I've ever given you that impression, I am very sorry.
The truth is, I love my family, I love that I can be home with my kids and help them grow, because I am truly blessed to be in a position to do so when not every mom can- and I don't really know that being a stay at home mom is really meeting my best potential or that frankly, I am any good at it. I have often thought that the thing I yearned for (having children), dreamed about, and frankly always wanted (even more than being married), I am absolutely not built for. I manage, my kids are happy, healthy, thriving and I couldn't possibly love them more or want to be around them more- but I don't think it comes naturally for me.
I yell, I cry, I lose my temper, I sit them in front of the tv more than I should, I don't feel like I absorb any information I read about child development in a way that I could put into practical use, I struggle with finding a parenting/discipline style that works well for my kids, and I am even worse as a homemaker, and frankly... I just care way too much about my damn self.
For me, at-home motherhood is a weird cycle.
I love my kids more than anything in the world. I stop breathing just at the thought of something happening to them. The (very few) times I am away from them, I miss them like crazy. I want to know what they are doing. I want to know they are ok. I know that my son is really hard to understand but I know his "language" and worry he's unable to communicate without me. I know my daughter is a complete mommy's girl and I worry she is sad not being by my side. I know they are fine (especially since their only babysitters are ever my parents or my inlaws, who my kids love so much they often cry for them and want to be with them nonstop). But **I** am attached to them.
I would never, ever chose anything than to be with them. Not that going back to work isn't a valid option for many women (and one I dream about more than I care to admit)- I just can't do it. I had actually planned on returning to work my entire pregnancy. I never, ever thought I would be a stay at home mom. I always thought I would continue to work in politics, and make my way to working in the white house someday.
Except, two weeks before I was supposed to go back to work from maternity leave, I couldn't.
I couldn't leave my baby boy with anyone else. Not only did I think he would be missing the love and support from his mom, but I felt I'd be missing a huge part of my heart. Add another baby to the mix and I feel the same way 100 times over.
And I still feel that way- even as he is in preschool (which he love, love, loves and his teachers are the sweetest, most loving women I've met...) I miss him and wish I was with him.
(and it's a big but...)
I also really struggle with being a stay at home mom. I am sure 90% of moms don't feel like a great mother 100% of the time (or heck, even 50% of the time) but I do wish we'd talk more about it.
It has nothing to do with our kids- whom we love unfailingly- but more with balancing our own expectations and remembering most of what we see from other moms is the "pretty" picture they want us to see. Not the piles of laundry in the corner, timeouts after timeouts, toy avalanches, and to-do lists that go completely ignored for months and years on end so that our kids constantly feel loved and cared for. Yea- my "real picture" is kind of a sh*tstorm.
My blog has helped because it has allowed me to combine my hobby interests (which every mom needs to have and set aside time for) with my interest in contributing to our family's finances as well as build my own business. People often ask me how I do it all, and I tell them I don't. Really- I don't.
There are piles of laundry sitting to be done. My loft/craft room is horrifying. It literally gives my husband and I nightmares. We're slowly decorating our home (only, you know, after 4 1/2 years of living in it) but it feels like everything takes forever (because when you get pregnant basically on your honeymoon and your hubby JUST moved in, it kind of kills your energy).
Seriously people- we JUST go our downstairs to a point of not looking like a frat house. Our upstairs is about 70% de-frat-ized. But I keep up with my blog because it is keeping me sane and actually nourishing the part of me that has been left in the cold- the part that wants to contribute, work at something that I can see tangible results from, and build a business.
Most people who see me in real life know that I tend to be a hot mess. Aside from struggling to find a good solution to some horrible pain from recently discovered (but long suffered) Rheumatoid/Spondylitic Arthritis, I just have a hard time holding my family together well. We stay home a lot, we always seem to be running late, we cancel on things often, and get sick just about every other day. It takes me about 4 1/2 hours to do something that should take five minutes. Everytime I sit down to post/paint/glue/cook/type- there's a poopy diaper. There's a fight over a toy neither kid actually wants but only wants because the other has it. There's a need to sit on my lap, pounding on the keyboard as I type. There is a kid forcing my laptop shut... nonstop. And there is not enough medicine or booze in the world or hours to sleep at night to stop the headache of it all.
It's getting better as my kids get older, but man- it is tough, and I want everyone to know I am flouncing. Because I am pretty sure there are a ton of other mothers out there who feel like they are the only ones feeling this way..... but.... WE AREN'T. Say that again with me, we aren't alone.
Being a mom is awesome. It's also incredibly difficult (whether you stay at home, work away from home, or work at home. They are all hard, all amazing, and all exhausting). And I hope it's ok that I shared my frustrations with you, and that you share some of yours so we can all commiserate together!
My hubby and I have had some long talks, and given how horrible my health is lately, its probably time to get someone a few hours a week to help while I work from home to try to find some kind of balance. We've come to really rely on the income my blog and web design has provided to save and get out of debt, and it seems like a perfect mix since I WANT to be with my kids, but I simply cannot do it all.
And since that was kind of heavy, I wanted to add a little GIF mashup of just exactly how I feel as a mom most of the time:
How I feel I am doing as a mother, 78% of the time:
The other 22% of the time: (when the kids actually make it to the potty, go to bed before 9:30, sit through church or let me take an actual shower and by some miracle I have clean non-yoga pants like clothing on)
Hearing moms gloat on and on about how MENSA-like their kids are/ how they only eat organic/ how they read above their age level/ how being a mom is the OMGBest thing ever (it is, but come on- it can be HARD!)/ having to watch Daniel Tiger for the fifty-thousandth time/ fighting over not wearing jammies all day, or heaven forbid the wrong type or color of pants)
How I sound when my husband gets home:
The fact that 1 and 3 year olds cannot comprehend this enrages me:
In short, being a mom is a lot like this: