In no way am I writing this to claim my side of the mom-battle. I am not here to tell you my job is harder than the working moms’ job and I am not trying to convince anyone that what I am doing is the right way to do things. This has nothing to do with that. I wrote this mainly to express my own thoughts on my recent identity crisis and I would like to think that there are other moms out there who can relate. If you can’t relate and your first reaction to reading this is to roll your eyes or scoff, I challenge you not to.
Just hear me out.
The last eight months have been somewhat of an internal struggle for me. Trying to find my identity as someone other than just a bra-less stay at home mom covered in vomit has been a challenge. Due to fear, I haven’t shared with many people what I had been feeling. I strongly dislike being vulnerable or appearing weak and I wasn’t sure if anyone would be able to relate. The last thing I wanted was my friends thinking I was whining about how rough I have it. My life doesn’t suck. I fortunately have an awesome life and job. By no means is this me complaining or whining about a job that I have chosen to do.
After I had my first son my world was forever changed. (If you have not been reading any of my previous posts about motherhood, let me please refer you back to my piece regarding baby terrorism here.)
Prior to his arrival, I had a full time job that I actually enjoyed. My husband and I decided that once he entered the world, I would become a stay at home mommy. Being at home with my children was something we both felt very strongly about. I am a workaholic. I can’t say I was a workaholic, because I still am one. Whatever job or task is at hand I want to do it perfectly. My work assignments have just changed a tad. Corporate visits, presentations, weekly workshops, and deadlines have now instantly morphed into birthday parties, home decorating, managing a family calendar and raising human life. Whatever the job is….. I’m going to #nailit.
Along with being a workaholic, I am competitive by nature. Something that isn’t very fun to admit since it has a bad rap. Being competitive can come off as aggressive, self-centered, too serious… all things I don’t want to be, but at work I will always try to be the best.
I mean, why be second when you can be first, duh.
I think that the fact that I am competitive and a workaholic by nature, is mostly to blame for why giving up a corporate job threw me into shock. The shock set in late with me. It wasn’t until my second child that I started to feel like something was off. Something was missing for me.
No, not another child. (I do want a third, some time. Just not now.)
One phrase constantly haunted my mind throughout my long days of poopie diapers, toddler temper tantrums and many breakfast, lunch and dinner meal preps.
I just want to be seen.
I wanted someone to say “Jenn, that presentation was great! Good job! Can’t wait until the next one.” I just wanted someone to acknowledge anything that I was doing throughout my day, but no one could. No one was there to see what I had done. I’m just a stay at home mom, I sit at home, drink unhealthy amounts of coffee and watch TV all day, right? I’m so lucky that I get to sit at home all day and craft….. must be nice.
(The part about consuming unhealthy amounts of coffee may be true. It may be absolutely true.)
That’s the impression that many people give off when referring to a stay at home mom. They may not mean too, but little comments like “Yeah but you have time to do all that…” alluding to the fact that since I am at home all day, I must not be busy. Or my personal favorite, “I could never just sit around all day, I would go crazy!”
Comments like this just added fuel to my internal fire. I already felt like no one saw me and now I was under the impression that they thought I didn’t do anything productive. Awesome.
I don’t matter.
Sure, I matter a great deal to my children. They would not be functioning as living humans if I did not feed them. But apparently, since I’m not saving lives in an E.R or selling large real-estate properties, I’ve got it made in the shade.
As far as my husband, he is as caring as one husband can get. Some women complain that their husbands don’t compliment them enough…. well, let’s just say mine over does it. In a good way! I’m basically verbally abused but by nice words. He is constantly telling me how great of a mother I am, how lucky the kids are, I’m a great wife, thank you so much for cooking, you keep the house looking amazing……
you’re so much smarter than I am. (wink)
The list goes on and on and for that I am appreciative of him.
But when the same things come from the same person every day, it starts to weaken the compliment. This sounds awful, I know this, but it was how I felt. I missed being complimented or acknowledged by someone other than the person I am married too. He has to say those things, he loves me and that’s his job. He doesn’t really mean it. This actually has been a real thought in my sleep deprived brain.
Sounds like I am a five-year-old child, right?
I was discussing these thoughts with my husband one night, and I used a simple bucket analogy to further explain my point.
Everyone who works has a bucket. Your own little work-bucket. And all day, every day, you get little “bucket fillers”. Some larger than others. For example, you gave a presentation today at work and it went well. You feel great after this. Maybe you got some compliments from a boss or co-workers, maybe you didn’t…. but either way, you feel like you have done an excellent job.
That my friend, is a bucket filler.
A co-worker asks you to edit something she has written or asks for advice on an issue she’s having. You gladly help. It feels good to feel heard. Needed.
It could be something as small and insignificant as Jane at work saying “Girl, those shoes are SO cute!” Bucket filler.
Maybe no one even compliments you. You are having a phone conversation and just happen to make a great point. After you say it you think to yourself, man that was a good point, what I just said right there….. We’ve all done this.
You sold a house today, you saved a life today, you got employee of the week, you hired someone, one of your students that has been struggling finally made that “A”, you were told you were being looked at for a promotion, you got that promotion, you set up a happy hour for the end of the week…..
Now imagine never getting any fillers. My bucket has cobwebs. I still have some fillers in there from 2012, but they are covered in dust and they don’t give me much satisfaction anymore.
If only my kids could give me some bucket fillers:
Mom, the way you just changed my diaper right there….. that was ridiculously good. Well done. Sorry it smells like chemicals and poison. Extra bucket fillers for you.
Mom, this peanut butter and jelly sandwich….. how did you spread the butter and jelly so evenly? I mean, every bite has a perfect jelly/peanut butter ratio. May I PLEASE have another. I must have another.
Mom, I am truly sorry that I am acting like a baby-jerk. I have hit you, screamed in your face and you don’t deserve that. If anyone deserves it, it’s dad for leaving you here while he goes to work and gets to talk to people over the age of two. I’ll do it to dad when he gets home, in your honor. You rock mom.
Mom, you know how we read books before I go to bed? Even before naps? I love that. Some moms just lay their kids in bed and shut off the lights, but you take extra time. You always read me that one extra book. You’re such a great reader. You even make the different voices. You are just as good of an actress as Minnie Mouse. I love you so much.
Man, now those would be amazing bucket fillers. And I know one day, if I do my job right, that I will get them. But for now I must do my job without any accolades.
My husband travels often, leaving me flying solo in not only the daily madness but also the night-time routine (that always seems to be the most stressful time). So when Mike returns from his 2-3 day trips, I’m no picture perfect June Cleaver greeting him at the door in my dress and heels.
I tend to resemble a drug addict that is experiencing withdrawals. Messy hair. Messy face. Sometimes in the same clothes that I was wearing when he left me. A bloody nose and a crazy look in my eye. Well, one of my eyes. The other eye is black and swollen shut due to a beating I took from my toddler the day before.
The kids. They try to break me. But I always come out on top. I’m still alive and mentally sane…for the most part.
Hubby often says, “We can hire a nanny so you can go do things to create balance. Get your nails done, go shop alone, go to the gym… Anything you want!” but that is the last thing I want. “I don’t need a nanny! (Unless it’s a Pocket Nanny, of course, but since they don’t exist yet.) I’m fine! If every other woman out there with two kids is doing this and smiling, then I can too!”
Pride. She’s a real joy.
No. Only I could fix this. Only I could change my attitude. I started doing some soul searching and lots of prayer. I even reached out to my mother, she’s been in my shoes and we are all still alive. She doesn’t appear to be insane. I must take notes.
What did I need to change?
I knew I wasn’t going to go back to work. This is such a short part of my kids lives. Soon they will be off to school and I won’t get to read them books or rock them before nap time. I’ll never get this time with them back. I had to change something in my regimen. I had to have something to break up the stress of my daily mommy-grind.
I never had the intention of sharing my stories with the entire online universe. I started small by listing stressful situations I had experienced that day. Humor is how I fix all issues in my life. It’s a curse. So I started making fun of myself, making light of each stressful event. There I sat, 10 o’clock at night on my computer, when I should have been getting valuable sleep, and I couldn’t stop typing.
My kids are hilarious! These situations are nuts. You can’t make this stuff up.
I kept typing.
Some posts are so brutally honest that they come off crude and unpleasant. I am aware of this, but it’s my own personal therapy. To be honest, being a stay at home mom isn’t always made up of feel-good moments. I am absolutely not happy every second of my life. Not all my days consist of Facebook worthy status pictures of me and my darling children. Not every second of my life deserves a #sohappy or #everybodylookhowcuteweare.
However, writing about the difficult events that take place throughout the day actually makes me love them. I go to bed at night and find myself no longer asking God to help me with my patience but instead I thank Him for these little hiccups throughout my day. I thank Him for my toddler’s sense of independence. I thank Him for his curiosity and his eagerness to always be learning, even if it is learning that crayon does not belong on the living room walls and that toilet plungers should not be licked. Ever.
I thank Him for these moments. And sometimes I even chuckle. Mid prayer.
I encourage all moms to have an outlet! Crafting, working out, planning dinner parties, reading, baking, scrapbooking…. anything. If it wasn’t for my husband hovering over my shoulder for months, reading my posts and insisting that I take my ramblings public, I’d still be hobby hunting. I wasn’t making this a priority for myself and it was robbing me of happiness in more ways than one. I thought my sole purpose as a SAHM was to only focus on my children (which it is) but I’ve realized that I should be able to set aside time for myself, doing something that I want to do, not have to do. Nap times no longer only consist of house chores. I pause the tasking, leaving the kitchen a mess and take time to enjoy myself and take a breather, something I thought I wasn’t allowed to do.
Stay at home moms……. Unite! At times this job makes you feel so lonely and isolated.
But just know, that when the day is long,
and 8 pm can’t come quick enough…
I’m right there with ya.
– Until the next time this Redhead rambles.
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