I love being a stay at home mom. That does not mean I love everything about it. Especially recently, as I await the birth of my second child, I have been struggling with who I am outside of the definition of mom. I am a wife too. But what else? Where are the qualities that are uniquely me? These kind of questions are so important to ask, but the guilt and feelings of selfishness that come along with them are not easy. In a conversation with my sweet husband a while back, he asked if I would rather go back to work. A simple question that should have made me feel like the possibilities for our current arrangement could shift if that would make us happier as a family. Namely, my sweet hubby, was asking what can we do to make you happier? I should have been over joyed and called some sort of awards sales place to get his name etched on a Husband of the Year trophy. Instead, I got upset and offended. Am I doing a terrible job staying home? Is that why he wants me to go back to work? I could have an Olympic medal in reading into statements incorrectly. After some calming down and clarification. Ahhh clarification, the WD40 of relationships. I complained that while I loved being home for each of the milestones of our son, sometimes I felt like I wasn’t using my brain and didn’t feel as fulfilled as I thought I would being a stay at home mom. My husband in all of his brilliance asked, “Did you really expect to be fulfilled by dishes?? They call staying home a job because its work.”
Guys, I am calling the trophy dealer. He may just be a genius. I keep coming back to this statement of brilliance when I am having a particularly rough day. It’s work. But good news is, there is joy in work! A sense of accomplishment. Getting sloppy kisses from my son is a gift. That is not work and I don’t intend to take the flexibility of our situation for granted. It is truly a huge blessing that we can make my staying home work for our family. My challenge is the gratitude attitude. I don’t have to enjoy each toilet ring to enjoy being a stay at home mom. My goal this Thanksgiving season is to find an attitude shift in my top 5 least favorite household and mothering tasks. So here it goes:
- Waking up Early: I was a night shift nurse for almost a decade. I loveeee to sleep in. That genetic predisposition was not inherited by my offspring. 6:30am is a late check out at Hotel Redmon. Attitude shift: My son is always so happy to see me. I am very lucky to generally get to be the first person to hug him each morning. Bring on the end of Day Light Savings!
- Toddler Tantrums: This is a new phase for us. I think a lot of my frustration here comes from the fact that sometimes I also want to lay on the floor of Target and scream. I, however, have language skills. I am thankful that I can communicate my feelings (usually) in order to have my needs met.
- Laundry: Laundry is super gratifying once it’s all folded and put away. I have one (ONE) disciplined chore that I do on the same day every week like my grandmother (mother of eight!). I change my sheets on Tuesdays. I love Tuesdays. I feel accomplished even if all I do around the house is make the bed, I know I will sleep better.
- Changing Dirty Diapers: A regular child is a happy child. No one likes to be backed up. I will attempt to laugh to myself and think of the book “Everybody Poops”.
- Toddler Meals Spilled Purposefully onto a Freshly Cleaned Floor: This one is really hard for me. Thank goodness we have a dog without a discerning palate. The issue is several fold for me. I cooked the food and now you destroyed it, made a mess and are likely still hungry. Especially as the months get colder, I will remind myself to be thankful that I have a home to clean up and enough food to make another PBJ. He is only little for just a little while.
So I am not fulfilled by dishes? Oh well. I am still a good mother. As long as I try to shift my attitude to gratitude I bet I find more fulfillment than I thought possible in this work.