I've been having trouble writing lately, trouble finding my voice and trouble finding time to write in this season of motherhood. I feel myself being pulled in too many directions and struggling with self-doubt as a stay-at-home mom.
I always hesitate when someone asks me what I “do.”
Well, I take care of two small children (a baby and a toddler), two large dogs, an exhausted, overworked husband, and our very lived-in, dog-hair-filled house every day. I also frequently find myself filling my mother’s role in the lives of my grandparents, after managing my mother’s care through her battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
My “real” job
Of course, people really want to know what I do outside the home, you know — my “real” job.
Going back to a “real” job has been very tempting. Growing up in the progressive and fast-paced Austin culture, where we based one's identity and worth primarily on their professional achievements, I must admit that putting my career on hold has been hard on my ego. After all, there's no Austin Business Journal award for potty training.
In my family, mothers have sort of been expected to work. Both of my grandmothers worked full-time out of necessity, and I know there was always tension between my parents regarding my mother's employment or lack thereof. Like me, my mother continued working after having her first child but stopped when she had the second (I just had mine a lot closer together). She put me in daycare to return to teaching when I was just a few months old, but decided to quit working full-time when my brother was born three years later.
Being a stay-at-home mom
Sometimes God has to speak really loudly to get my attention.
A brand-new, bright yellow preschool just opened directly behind our house.
“How convenient if I decide to go back to work!” I thought, upon discovering the new business.
When my 2.5-year-old daughter was curious about their playground equipment, I explained to her that mommies and daddies will bring their kids there while they go to work. My sensitive and inquisitive little daughter looked very concerned. I asked if she wanted to go play there, while I go to work like Daddy does, or if she wanted me to stay home with her.
As a stay-at-home mom, I don't get public recognition, sick leave or raises, but I get to care for and play with the people I love most.
“Stay home with me!” she exclaimed.
In that moment, I realized how blessed we are to actually have that choice, how lucky I am to be a stay-at-home mom. Because of my husband's job, I am able to teach and care for my children instead of paying someone else to do it. I am able to watch their curiosity and amazement with my own eyes every single day.
My vivacious, almost-9-month-old is already learning to wave, clap, walk and imitate words. Meanwhile, my sweet, detail-oriented toddler is learning letters and numbers, saying “I love you, Mommy” spontaneously throughout the day, and soaking up information about everything from her extended family members to the days of the week.
I realize now that my mom quit working because she didn't want to miss this opportunity to watch her children grow. As a stay-at-home mom, I don't get public recognition, sick leave or raises, but I get to care for and play with the people I love most.
Clearly, God has called me to love my husband and children well, putting their interests above my own (I don't know for sure about the dogs, haha), so I will rejoice in the job He's given me. Of course, it’s in my family's best interest that I remember to take care of myself, as well, so that I am able to take care of them.
I know that God wants me to be present, enjoying my girls each day, not stressed and stretched too thin. As I prioritize motherhood, I'm learning to be intentional about how I allocate my precious time, energy and money.
The wisest advice my maternal grandmother has ever given me: “You can’t be all things to all people.”
Her words are undoubtedly true: People pleasing only leaves me exhausted. I'm finally trying to take commitments off of my plate and stop feeling like everyone thinks I'm weak or lazy when I say “no” to volunteering, taking on a new project, or attending an event.
Motherhood is my real job
I'm making the priorities that celebrate motherhood, marriage, and self-care center stage — taking my kids to a weekly music class, serving on my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) steering team, scheduling date nights with my husband and the occasional girls’ night out for myself, attending church, writing, reading the Bible, praying, practicing yoga, using therapeutic grade essential oils, making healthy food choices and getting enough sleep.
In this season of motherhood, I'm dedicated to being the very best mom I can be for my girls. After all, motherhood is my real job.