Today I realized I have been an official SAHM for over 6 months. To be honest the realization has struck me hard and I am grappling with the enormity or rather the weight of 6 months. It feels heavy. It feels like such a length of time that anything could be accomplished and I should be able to present some manifest that says “See here. Look at all this momma has done.” But I don’t have a list and I definitely still do not have the answers. So here I struggle with, “the mom I should be vs. the mom I am.”
During my first maternity leave and subsequent return to work I struggled. I felt that on one hand I couldn’t possibly leave my precious new babe but on the other I couldn’t wait to be at work and exercise my brain, to be somebody “important.” What was (and still is) difficult was the feeling that I couldn’t reconcile my two selves. That somehow the successful working woman and the happy mother couldn’t run away together hand in hand into the blissful future. I felt torn, guilty, and somehow incompetent and incapable of merging the new mom me and the old working me.
I have spent a good part of the last 3 years riddled with guilt. Guilt when I had to leave work early at least one day a week for an entire month during a particularly rough patch for my son at daycare. Guilt when he was home sick and I had to prop him up on the couch with a snack and a movie marathon so I could catch up on work. It felt that no matter what I was doing I felt guilty. I was letting someone else down or not doing my part. The stress was immense and my husband worked hard to give me the opportunity to stay at home. I think we thought that it would lessen the stress and allow me the time to be present for our growing family.
What I did not expect was that this, too, would be hard – like really hard. It has been harder than I ever imagined and the stress didn’t magically disappear. What I have come to realize is that you cannot simply merge the two selves. You have to embrace becoming a new version of you and that is not a bad thing. I mean really what was I holding onto? There are many aspects of me that I had willingly grown from like my love of white eye liner and pale blue eye shadow, extreme bell bottoms, the idea that I couldn’t be seen in public with unplucked eyebrows, or that I couldn’t do hard things like be a leader or speak in public. I had gone on to accomplish so many things I never imagined when I chose to live in the moment. I realized that I had been so rigid in meticulously planning and plotting where I was headed that I completely overlooked that I was on a new road, in a new place, with a whole new journey ahead.
My biggest challenge moving forward is realizing that there is no way to predict what life is going to look like. I cannot foresee the future and therefore to hold myself to unfounded expectations is really silly. Like a big toddler belly laugh kind of silly. So momma’s throw off the assumptions about who you should be and embrace who you are today. Lord willing our kids will grow and our mommyhood will take on so many new phases over the coming years. I may not have a magnificent list of things I have accomplished but really who has time to write it all down anyway?