Being a stay-at-home mom taught me the gift of presence

Why are some of us so afraid to be stay-at-home moms?

Being a stay-at-home mom taught me the gift of presence

If someone had told me I would be reevaluating my self-worth a year after having my first child, I would have told him or her to disembark the crazy train. Before my daughter was born, I was the queen of confidence—a possessor of aplomb and fearlessness. Heck, I've built my entire life-coaching program around the idea of promoting inner and outer confidence.

But here I find myself, seventeen months after the little one's arrival, lost, a little broken, slightly more defeated and realizing an internal step back is very necessary for a productive move forward.

Before baby, my idea of success was measured by my professional accomplishments.

Not necessarily how big my salary was but by the fact that I had a cool job I enjoyed and was at least contributing to the household's overall income. Even though before my maternity leave I was making less than my husband, I still held a management position with significant responsibilities and associates looking to me for guidance. I was good at it. I liked being in charge and seeing my team flourish.


I knew I would take a few months off to get used to being a first-time mom but I always assumed that I would go back to work soon after that. Even though I knew I would not be returning to the same job I left (due crazy hours and a lower paying salary), I figured I would just find a job in the field I used to work in years ago.

Give me a minute to pick myself up from the floor while I laugh-cry about this now.

Yes, I had the audacity to make plans. I even had a set timeline with a specific salary I just knew I would get and looked forward to everything falling into place. And yet, it's been over a year and save for a few coaching clients, I have been out of work. And I've been searching for the “new me" ever since.

Let's get real.

I know that being a parent and raising a child is one of the most important things someone can do. I know that by being a stay at home mom, I am saving my family thousands of dollars in childcare fees. I know that it is ridiculous to feel guilty about not having a job while I spend 24-7 caring for my child. I know that I am putting all of this guilt and pressure on myself while my husband and family and friends reassure me that being a mom is hard no matter what the circumstances and that I'm being silly allowing my own thoughts to fuel my guilt.

I know all of this in my brain but not my heart.

Or maybe it's the other way around?

But I'm here to tell you, as a self-proclaimed control freak, not having something tangible to show for all my work—like a paycheck, or a growing savings account, or a non-stop workday that leaves me feeling exhausted—is really difficult for me. I am the type of person who needs evidence that I have done a good job.

I can look at my daughter—a beautiful, smart, vivacious young girl—and know that I had something to do with that. But honestly, I struggle with how much is really me and how much was already in that dazzling brain of hers.

I have been constantly thinking about, reevaluating and wrestling with who I am these last few months.

And I am no closer to finding out any more than I was when my daughter turned a year old. I find myself in a constant battle of wills with myself. I have an awesome idea for a new coaching program I want to offer but for some reason, I have not made the move to start networking for clients. I keep applying to full-time positions that pop up in my LinkedIn profile but do so half-heartedly because I have not found a job that gets my blood boiling. I have looked at work from home options so that I can keep the freedom of being a SAHM and start bringing in some cash flow.

Why have I been so intent on bringing in steady income when I really should be focusing on this brilliant time I have to spend with my daughter? Raising a self-aware strong female is what the world needs now more than ever.

So why am I so afraid of just settling into the role of stay at home mom?

I realized I'm terrified of the non-tangible.

I now have to base the majority of my self-worth on fluidity. I had a friend (OK, a therapist) once tell me that I thought my feelings, I didn't really feel my feelings. It was a gut punch of truth and something I'm now constantly working to improve.

Becoming an unexpected stay at home parent has forced me to look inward way more than I ever have before. They say becoming a parent is one of the best ways to learn selflessness. But I have found that mothering a daughter has allowed me to really delve into who I am as a person.

It's no longer only about what I do for work or how many hours I spend at the office. Hard facts and numbers have lost their significance. My self-worth is now based on whether I show up every minute of every hour of every day for my daughter. Is she happy? Growing? Learning? Laughing?

The struggle is real and every day for me.

But I'm learning to slow down and enjoy the smaller moments. I'm not constantly on the lookout for the next thing that will help define who I am now. I am learning to accept that ultimately I define myself.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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