Before I was a mom, I knew exactly what it meant to be one.
Before I quit working, I knew exactly what it meant to manage my time: I knew what was valuable. What was worthy of the hours I spent at home.
Wait. I was 21 when Jessica was born. I knew nothing. The ideas I had were fastened to my psyche because that’s how I saw the world. Through a narrow, very misleading little lens about what happiness meant, what it cost. And what the word “worth” or “worthy” actually meant.
It’s been a radical 8 years, let me tell you.
The guilt I felt for not loving every single second of being a stay at home mom? Drove me to do MORE! Cover up that feeling, this isn’t what it’s supposed to feel like. You can’t get a job, change your mind, ask for help!!! That’s the WRONG idea. And yet, I truly do enjoy being home. I also, literally, need breaks. Often. Scheduled. Away from children.
I couldn’t relax enough to read a book while my kids played until recently. If I didn’t know EVERYTHING about what they were doing at any given moment, offering instruction or guidance, I felt like a failure.
I used to interrogate my friends who seemed so much more at ease with their Motherhood, how did they let it go? How did they open their back door, let their kids out and then not stand by the window watching every move? Instead, they got stuff done. Like the dishes, or laundry. Or maybe even a phone call to a friend. They were organized and had systems and, although still human, seemed to be running the show with confidence.
I knew I could do it, there were windows of time when I felt comfortable in the shoes I was wearing. Running a household, raising a family and even taking care of the relationships that meant most to me (including the one with myself).
But scarcity was always around the corner. The feeling of leaning into the role I had taken on and succeeding seemed to be a short lived victory. I would always end up back in the place of fear of failure.
I was failing my family somehow, I couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t know how or why. I was failing my kids, I just knew it. I was a terrible mother. I was failing my marriage, this I seemed to understand, and yet – I was bonded to the idea that this kind of life, this fate – was my destiny.
I know exactly when all of this changed. It continues to take shape in my daily life. I continue to sit with, and some times struggle with where I am. But the smallest of steps forward sends me into a fever of thankfulness.
Let my kids out of my sight? Let them bicker a little longer? Ask them to solve this one on their own (because I know they can, they have everything they need to discover their own tiny victories in relationships) … and I find myself glued to the aftermath that we didn’t fall apart.
That letting go of the reigns, giving some slack to my expectations, allowing even myself the time it takes to learn something new, is actually doing the opposite of my worst fears.
It’s bringing us together. Like a puzzle piece of our lives, woven every so slightly together – we all fit, with our talents, struggles and imperfections, into this masterpiece of Family.
And as it turns out, it always has.