Thursday, February 16, 2017

Finding yourself with motherhood

Last week, an acquaintance asked what I was doing now that I'm at home.

"Ahhhhhh," I stuttered.  Crap, what am I doing?

"I cook dinner and, um, clean."  Well, sometimes.

"Oh, and I, ah, do the laundry during the week so we can do stuff as a family on the weekends."

I don't know why I didn't add that I've been working out.  And reading.  Yes, reading!  Saying it out loud makes me feel lazy.  Well, not the working out part, but having all this time.  Honestly, I've been slacking on the cleaning part.  My sewing area is a complete disaster and needs to be organized before I pick up another sewing project.  And the bathrooms need a thorough cleaning.  And I need to vacuum.

While I matured in college, I didn't really "find myself" until later in my 20s.  Back then, no one used that phrase "finding myself" as it was considered the product of 1970s hippies and viewed in a negative manner.  I suggest you find yourself after work!  I won't say that I was completely comfortable in my own skin, but that was probably the closest I've been.  I took a chance with some new friends (from the scary internet) and flew out to Arizona spur of the moment to meet them at a New Year's Eve concert.  I brought my brother with me, just in case they turned out to be loco, but they weren't.  Well, one of them was but she was only dangerous to herself.  And then I made more friends and I felt confident and strong and mostly happy with myself.

I don't feel like that same person today.  We all change with time but this feels different.  Somewhere along the way, in the middle of the chaos, I lost a bit of myself.  Becoming a mom, a mom of three at once, that became my primary identity, followed by tax return lady.

Now that I'm home, I don't mind the chauffeuring or the laundry or the refereeing or helping with homework.  I've known all along that I'm not the biggest fan of cleaning or cooking or grocery shopping.  You do what you need to do.  I have told the girls that I didn't quit my job to become a maid.  Hey, this needs to be a group effort here.  I'm not going to follow you around the house cleaning up after you.  After being associated with a tax role for 20+ years, it sometimes feels weird not being attached to a profession.

When I was working, I couldn't find that happy work/life balance.  There was no balance - only a shifting.  Hey, work is more important today.  Okay, family comes first this week.  Someone always suffered.  And now, I have all the time in the world for my kids but they don't need me 100% of my time and I don't think it's healthy to be attached 100% of the time and I'm an introvert that needs alone time to recharge.  I realize that this may sound like I'm considering some type of employment but I'm not.  I can't go back to that stress.  It's just, I feel like I should be a mom and a (fill in the blank.)

So what do we do as mothers?  Do we dream dreams that will have to be shelved?  I don't want to do anything that's going to take time away from my family.  Maybe I just need to get used to this new life.  To feel okay with saying, "Hey, I'm at home."  Start off with a small dream perhaps.  Rich says I'm never content with the here and now.  I'm always looking forward.  And that's true.  It's a hard mindset to change, unfortunately.


Sarah said...

Hi Sarah,

This really resonated with me. Thank you for being so honest about your experiences. A little more than a year ago, I quit a stressful job that involved a lot of travel and kept me away from my family quite a bit. I'm now working two part time jobs - both much more enjoyable and both much lower stress (also much less money. But I'm so much happier. Sometimes I still find myself in the type of conversation that you describe..."well, I'm not doing that anymore, now I'm doing (something that sounds a lot less important as a career)" but I try not to care. I can help at the school occasionally (my twins are in grade 3), I can be home every night for dinner. These things matter so much more than my career identity. But it's so hard to let it go, isn't it?
Good for you for making this leap. I've been following your blog for years and I'm thrilled that you've found a new normal with your life. I hope it brings you great joy!

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I was an all-in career woman until my girls were born in 2009, and then I abruptly switched gears and became a SAHM until the girls started kindergarten. I've been back at work now 2 1/2 years. I've been doing so much soul searching about who I want to be. I think I used to know without a doubt, before kids...but now -- at least in this stage of life -- there are so many competing factors to consider. I don't fully know.

Hope you don't mind a little suggestion...maybe, at least to try on for can answer questions with, "I'm a mom and a part-time photographer" or writer or seamstress. Put that out there in a declarative statement. Sometimes I think it helps to have a "label". ;)

Sarah said...

Thank you, Sarah. I'm glad I'm not alone in these thoughts.

MandyE - thank you for the comment and suggestion. You make a good point!

Ruth said...

you could be a mom and a sewer of beautiful skirts. that is a strength you have. something you appear to derive pleasure and satisfaction from. an outlet for your creativity, something you are excellent at! even as your girls outgrow the stage, you could continue to make for younger girls. the disney themed sets and princess dresses and twirly skirts would surely be good sellers. and all this gets done at home, and in your free time, when you want to, because you want to....