I have been thinking about writing this post for a while. Mostly because it has been a topic weighing on my heart.
I grew up with a mom who stayed home with us. She played board games with us at 11am, she made sure our socks were white as the day we bought them and she made sure we had dinner on the table most nights. She was at school events, sporting events and there to see us go to dances, proms and see us off on our first solo drive.
Growing up, I knew I wanted to be one thing- a mom. I knew something else too- I wanted to stay home with my kids- either part-time or full-time. Ideally, I would have my own small business that would allow me the flexibility that a corporate part-time job wouldn’t. I didn’t want to miss the milestones and moments that are so important during their younger years, and even as they get older. Those things were absolutely important to me when picking a mate. My husband knew early on in our relationship that I wanted to stay home with our kids when/if they came along. That I wasn’t going to be a “career woman” and he was supportive of that.
Fast forward to February 2012. We found out we were expecting our first child, and evaluated our situation. We were able to make it work for me to stay home part-time. I worked three, eight-hour days a week, and stayed home the other two. While I worked, we were lucky enough to have my mom and mother-in-law watch E. That for sure made it easier to leave her and it ended up being a pretty good mix for me. I didn’t hate leaving her those three days because I really enjoyed her after coming home at the end of the day.
In August of 2013 my husband was presented with a job opportunity in North Carolina, which would allow me to stay home full-time with E. I was ecstatic to try out this other aspect of motherhood- a full-time stay-at-home mama.
I really enjoyed being home full-time until E was about 25-26 months old. All of the activities and toys that used to keep her entertained- didn’t anymore. She was in a constant state of boredom I felt like. Her boredom (and age) led to more temper tantrums and needing of me to entertain her. I will admit, I was going a little crazy. I was used to her entertaining herself.
I was a little shocked at myself. I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. I wanted to be that “Pinterest-mom” all of the other moms loved to hate. I wanted to do all of the crafts and projects and elaborate home-cooked meals. But guess what I found out? I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. And I felt bad about it. I felt like a failure. Aren’t all women supposed to secretly WANT to stay home with their kids? Isn’t there something wrong with me if I don’t enjoy playing with play doh and picking up after a toddler all day?
At the time, I was pregnant and a few months out from having baby #2. I didn’t know how I was going to handle a toddler who seemingly needed me to entertain her all of the time and a newborn who was going to need my undivided attention. I started looking into pre-schools asap to enroll Everleigh. Of course, anyone who has children in preschool knows that it’s not easy to just enroll your kids in the middle of a school year. So, I was hit with the fact that we would have to wait until September to put her into preschool.
When baby A came along, I was lucky enough to have my mother-in-law here the first two weeks and my mom for weeks after that. For the first five weeks, I kid you not, Everleigh was like a little terrorist. I didn’t know who this child was. Obviously, it was an adjustment for her becoming a big sister and luckily, she was pretty much back to herself after that five week period. Now we’re just dealing with normal, typical, two-year-old tantrums.
After my mom left, we settled into our own routine and it was good. However, Adalyn was requiring so much of my time, Everleigh was getting little of my time and attention and I was feeling tense that I never had time to get things done that I wanted to get done.
I should mention that while I was a “stay-at-home” mom, I suppose I really wasn’t in the full sense of the term. I was really more of a “work-at-home” mom. I had a part-time job with my previous employer working remotely, I was running a photography business and trying to grow a blog.
Part of my frustration in being a “stay-at-home” mom I now realize, is that I really like what I do. I like working part-time. Staying home with the girls and them needing me all of the time, was leaving me no time for me to do what I wanted and needed to do- work.
We ended up hiring a nanny twice a week for a few hours, until preschool starts, so that I can focus on my work and growing my business and blog. It has helped tremendously. I am able to enjoy the girls more, instead of getting frustrated because they’re always needing me- 24/7 and I never get a break to focus on the things that are important to me. It has helped me be a better wife, because I’m not stressed and frazzled at the end of the day (ok, most days!) and it has helped me realize that there is no definition, of the “perfect” mom- she doesn’t exist. We all adapt and make our work/life balance even out however works best for us and our families.
Do I still feel a little bit like a failure because I’m not wanting to do pinterest projects with my toddler and I don’t get complete satisfaction and peace out of nursing my infant? Yes. However, I know that at the end of the day, I need to find a balance of what makes me happy to be the closest version of “perfect” that I can be for them, and that’s all that any of us can really do.