For #MotherlyStories | Becoming a stay-at-home mom was exciting and also terrifying.
In fact, my first two days of motherhood were bliss. I ordered milkshakes from the hospital “restaurant”and barely lifted my head from the pillow to slurp them down. Three people at once were hovering to make sure baby had a good latch and vitals were checked every couple hours. I didn’t even do any diaper changes.
Then they sent me home. I was like, “Isn’t one of those nice nurses coming to boss me around and make sure no one dies?” Feeling highly unqualified and not very adult, I entered into full time motherhood.
After nine years with my littles (who now number four!), I have gained some wisdom on how to make the big transition.
Make being a SAHM work for YOU.
Staying at my house all day and cleaning the kitchen over and over and over again makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and rock myself to greener pastures. Take me away to the mental institution, because that’s where I’d be if I tried that lifestyle. For some it totally works, and I admire that. For me, being a SAHM looks more like going places A-LOT. Parks, meeting my ladies at the beach (like, every day in the summer), the library, the coffee shops, and outings to Target. It works for me because my children love it and I love it. And—even if it’s a complete disaster with spilt popcorn, screaming children, and tears (both theirs and mine)—at least by the time I get home I’m happy to be there and also, its nap time.
There’s no “one way” to do it; find a rhythm that works for you.
Being a SAHM is not the only thing that defines you.
You are a mom. You are also YOU. I kind of panicked during my first year of being a SAHM, because I was worried I would lose myself in a motherhood-vortex. You don’t have to forget YOU. Yes you’ll always be “Mom”, but you are also other. A runner, a writer, a socialite, an activist, an artist, a coffee snob, a doctor, an adventurer, a surfer, a fashion-junkie, an introvert, an extrovert...you are still you.
Part of being a great mom is staying healthy and nurturing your own identity. Have friends and adult conversations, nurture your passions, and go on dates.
Cut some corners.
I attempt to do the food cleanup as little as possible. In the summer we eat most meals outside. In the winter I pack sandwiches to eat on the way to the library. Yes the car gets a little dirty, but at least I don’t have to live in there. Paper plates, cereal for dinner...make your life easier, cut some corners.
Do the things that make you a better you.
Leaving your kids with a sitter or going to work a couple days a week will not ruin them. Ask yourself the question: Will getting a part-time job, going to the gym or getting a sitter for some alone time, make you a better version of you? If the answer is yes, and you can...DO IT.
Make peace with your lack of measurable success.
First outfit of the morning is fit for the Baby Gap runway. You’re feelin’ proud of your trendiness and good taste. Before you can get out the door to run errands, however, they’ve blown out three outfits and puked on you twice. You end up heading to Trader Joe’s in a shirt you cleaned with a baby wipe and sweats pants you tell yourself look “kind of like pants”. Baby is...not naked. #winning
Pat yourself on the back my friend, it may look like you did nothing today, but we know the truth. Also, everyone is alive and fed.
STOP THE MOM GUILT.
It’s everywhere, eeking in every time you’re on Facebook or look at yourself in the mirror. There is MORE PRESSURE THAN EVER to be the perfect mom. My friend, NO ONE is pulling it all off, I promise. Focus on your strengths and give yourself a break with your endless list of weaknesses, cuz guess what? We ALL have them.
I know it’s hard to make peace with the fact that you are not going to be the perfect mom, but, spoiler alert: You’re not. Insert weeping emoji here (I am still genuinely disappointed I wasn’t born a saint). Guess what, your kids aren’t going to be perfect either. Leading by example might look more like being humble, having grace for you and others, and apologizing well when you screw up.
Remember why you chose to be a SAHM.
Sometimes there are those perfect moments of chubby fingers clasping your face and the words, “You are my fav-wit mommy.” And then there are the days where it’s just rough, and you’re seriously wondering if you’re crazy. Those are the days when its important to remember why. Why did you choose to be a SAHM?
For me it’s been a rough couple weeks of sickness and exhaustion. But when I take a moment to remember my “why”: It’s being together. It’s sharing all the moments, even the ugly ones. It’s holding their hair back when they’re sick and making food for them 47 thousand times a day. The good, the bad and the ugly, it’s all gold in the long run. The bad days are just earned by much more blood, sweat, and tears than the others.
I may not always be a SAHM, but for now, these moments are treasures stored up in my heart. I know I will never regret this.
Remember mama, you are not alone. You are not the first one to feel overwhelmed and inadequate at this job. At this very minute millions are also having a face-palm moment.
It’s a dirty, frustrating, but beautiful job and it’s worth it.