It was a Wednesday morning. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, holding my newborn and looking at my 3-year-old. Each of us crying for 3 different reasons.
This was my first week as a stay-at-home mom and I was frustrated. I wasn’t quite sure what that title involved and if I would be able to deliver. I was a week out from working as a criminal investigator and each morning on my way to the kitchen, walked passed my BS degree hanging on the bright white wall in the hallway.
I loved the job and was fortunate that it allowed me to use some of my natural inquisitive tendencies. However, childcare for 2 children under the age of 5 was almost half my salary. And for me, that didn’t compute, so I made the decision to come home. It wasn’t a difficult decision because I wanted to do it. But many times we don’t know what we don’t know. And that was definitely the case here.
I knew why my newborn was crying. He wanted to nurse. Again. I was already sore (almost raw) and just could not bring myself to nursing him. My daughter wanted to watch the newest Disney princess movie with the matching gown she received for her birthday. And to tell the truth, I wasn’t up for that either.
So I did the next best thing. I packed them both up in the car and headed to Walmart. I didn’t need anything in particular but for some reason walking the aisles of Walmart gave me some peace and it seemed the kids enjoyed the stimulation and constant oh’s and ah’s that always came their way. However, this could not be my long term plan while being the at-home parent.
I began thinking about how I met deadlines at work, how I processed information and how I got things done. Scanning my life and looking for accomplishments hoping to pull something from those successes that would help guide and direct this new journey.
Immediately I discovered two things. One, I ended each workday with a plan, a to-do list of sorts, for the next day. Two, I knew my strengths and weaknesses and surrounded myself with the appropriate people to assist me. “Is there a way to employ these work skills in my home?”. “Would there be a net gain if I implemented these work hacks?”. At this point I had no choice but to try.
Find your ritual
The end of day to-do list became a brain dump ritual that has continued almost every night. As the day winds down, it seems my brain is just getting started by reminding me of all the things I forgot to do, the never ending list of what’s needed tomorrow and all the things and people that got on my nerves in the past 24 hours. So, to remedy this, I keep a notepad and pen by my bed and just before laying down, I honor each of those thoughts and tasks by giving them a place to live for the night so that sleep will not elude me.
“Know thyself” is something I say often. It can make the difference between success or failure, rise or fall, advancement or retreat. Being self-aware allows proper and truthful assessment of what’s needed and who is best for the job. And if the best person isn’t me there’s no guilt associated with that decision. There are a lot of things that have to get done in a day/week. But who says I have to do them all? Delegation is a skill set that I used often at work with interns and coworkers. Why would I abandon that very useful tool now? Here is where the Supermom Syndrome attempts to seep in. But can we agree that Supermom is not attainable because her forerunner, Superman was not real? It was a costume! The cape is what made the magic happen. But many times women allow this title of Supermom to rule how we show up and how we judge ourselves. I chose to change how I talked to myself about myself. My brain became a judgment-free zone.
Create your village
I’ve had a 12 year old mother’s helper as a playmate for my kids so that I could get work done. I’ve had a college student assist with homework, transportation and babysitting and I’ve done kid swaps with other families which allowed each of us to plan 2-3 days without our children. The thought of doing motherhood alone scared me so I was intentional about building my village because we didn’t always live near family. Have you built a supportive and strong village? What are you waiting for? Trust me, they won’t just show up at your door.
My motherhood journey continues. That Disney-princess-wanna-be is now a 30 year old woman and the infant is a 27 year old that still eats around the clock. There’s even a third child we added to the bunch who just completed his first year of law school. There may be several takeaways from this article but only one I’d like to highlight: Wherever you are on your motherhood journey; employed, at home, entrepreneur or some mix of them all, motherhood should not happen alone. Take the time to be intentional and deliberate about building a strong and supportive village during each stage of motherhood. The journey is so much better when shared with others.