Saturday, December 4, 2010

Role-Play

The role of "stay-at-home Mom" is one I never imagined for myself when I was young. I knew I wanted to be a Mom one day; as a teen I imagined myself as one day having a fast-paced design job with kids in daycare. I always thought I would want to work, if I was lucky enough to have the choice to do so. It's funny how time changes your mind. Indeed I was lucky enough to have a choice, and I chose to stay home with my daughter and raise her. This post isn't to get into a "this" versus "that" conversation...all I will say is I'm grateful to have the choice and understand why others choose to work instead of stay home as well. It's a topic that is not black and white, that's for sure! Anyway, I guess this post is to address other Stay at Home moms and ask them this: Do you feel the pressure to do MORE? I see blog posts of other SAHMs who have jobs on the side where they squeeze creative careers in during naps and during evenings and weekends. Or, I see them cooking up a storm, sewing kids' clothes, and reorganizing their houses all while tending to 4 kids. It is easy to feel inadequate if I compare. In my own case, I tried to squeeze in some work for design clients on the side but had to give it up. I simply couldn't give my clients the time and attention they deserved while still giving my daughter the attention SHE deserved. I found myself getting stressed and I guess resentful? with trying to squeeze everything into a two-hour nap window and I simply didn't want to start my "second job" in the evening once Paige went to bed. I wanted to relax after a long day! Being sole caregiver to a child all day is a full-time job as we all know. Then, there's the issue of personal hobbies, interests, and care. I felt the need to have a day of the week where I set aside time to paint "just for me." Or, an evening where I scheduled time to get my hair cut or some such thing. Everyone is always saying how you have to set aside time regularly for doing the things you want. Believe it or not, THAT was stressing me out too! I never felt relaxed, satisfied, or settled in my role as Mom. I always felt like I was supposed to be doing more and resenting it at the same time. I've discovered that this is a fleeting chapter in my life. It will be a short phase that won't last forever. I want to enjoy and honor it. I've given up trying to squeeze all kinds of extra things in. Relief! I've made the decision to simply be a Mom to my daughter and give her my best efforts. I no longer feel frantic or less-than the next gal. It has taken me a while to get to this point...to accept that I'm doing more than enough and I'm actually happy with it! Now that I've let go of all the expectations of what I SHOULD be doing in ADDITION to mothering I feel like I can finally be myself and enjoy my role. If I feel like doing a painting and I have a slice of time, then I will paint. But I don't schedule it in and create stress around it. I will go back to doing all the other things my life has to offer once my children are school-age. In the meantime, I will relax, rest and read during Paige's naps and not race to fill them with a hundred tasks that are supposedly for "me." I will spend my evenings with my husband instead of frantically racing around on the computer. And I will know that being "just a Mom" is more than enough to keep me busy, happy, exhausted and fulfilled for the time being. And if that changes, I am confident that I will take the necessary steps to make things right. For now, I'm giving in to this role...and I'm finding I love it more than I thought I would. It just took me letting go of those other notions to discover it. I've also realized that I can include Paige in my interests during the day...thus keeping her AND myself entertained. Not everything has to be HER time versus MY time. That has been helping a lot too. Any other SAHMs out there who feel pressure to do more than their day job, whether it is a side job, something for personal enrichment, etc.? Is it stuff you want and enjoy doing? Or is it stuff you feel you SHOULD be doing?

14 comments :

Kelly said...

Such a great post! Blogs are wonderful to get ideas, but I, too, feel inadequate sometimes, since I'm not grinding my own wheat to make my family bread, while making handmade christmas gifts for everyone (including the mailman) while homeschooling my 7 kids. I work part-time and I love that I get to alternate my days with work and life with an 18 month old. And I am now learning that a happy Mom makes everyone else happy, too, no matter if the bread was bought at the store :)

Megan said...

Kelly, LOL!! I don't know WHY you can't grind your own wheat...just do it while you are at the sewing machine whipping up all those gifts. Or perhaps you can whittle the gifts out of oak you cut down yourself?

Sarah said...

Did you read that NYT article recently that discussed just how crazy things have gotten for moms lately? It made me feel a lot better. I will now take this time to proudly admit that we dined on kraft mac n' cheese and *gasp* canned green beans for Sunday dinner tonight and I let my 10 month old play with a toy marked for ages 3 & up made in China with out a second thought. We do the best we can, and we need to cut ourselves some slack and get some perspective =)

Megan said...

Hmm, I didn't see that article! I'll have to search it out. That dinner sounds yummy to me! (I like both of those things a lot...mmmm) :)
And I also think every toy ever made is for 3 and up, thanks to legalities. I figure, if she can't choke on it or use it as a weapon it's fair game. :)

Sarah said...

Found it, it was in the Wall Street Journal not the NYT. It's quite a rant.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704462704575590603553674296.html

Megan said...

Wow, that IS quite the rant. Interesting though! Children are treated like accessories and not like people in several cases I've personally witnessed. That article makes me want to disconnect from modern society and live off the earth in a bubble where we can live our own little lives without being affected by anyone or anything. sigh.

Emily Elizabeth said...

I think all moms, no matter what they do, always feel inadequate at times. I just thank god that I've been given this amazing opportunity to stay home and focus all of my attention on my wonderful daughter (as if she'd let me pay attention to anything else, lol!).
Although I do struggle with my "free time" management. I often feel guilty that the house is never spotless, we are always behind on laundry, and well-balanced, sit-down dinners are few and far between. My personal passion is sewing and crafting, and it often takes precedent over household chores. But luckily I have a husband who doesn't complain about these things, and I definitely feel like I can be a better mother after I've had my "me" time.

Megan said...

It DOES seem like all mothers battle with inadequacy. I guess it's a never-ending war. I feel so much better after "me" time. As I mentioned; I used to think it meant doing something constructive in a traditional sense. And now, it involves laying in bed in the quiet or laying in bed and watching a cheesy tv show that only I like. I feel so much better after this time alone. The space and room to think or space out is such a treasure to me.

Valery said...

Love this post and the sentiment. Will be bookmarking to remember this as a sanity check in the future ;)

Anonymous said...

Amen Sister!

I've actually deleted blogs from my reader that just make me feel plain bad. I think lots of them are phoney anyway...I mean something's gotta give for everyone. No one is perfect.

Do you read Meg's Whatever blog? or Piece of Cake? I like these...high doses of reality mixed with family and pretty things.

I don't always comment on your blog but I really like what you have to say:)

Allison

Jessica said...

My husband stays home with our 17 mo and I admire how skilled he is at compartmentalizing his roles. He never (or very rarely) feels inadequate about not doing enough as a SAHD. I don't know if it's peculiar to my husband, or if men are just less prone to the guilt we women impose on ourselves. He is very focused on the fact that his job during the day is the care and feeding of a 17 month old. He has said on numerous occasions that if he does that well and with (nearly) his full attention he feels like it's been a great day. He just doesn't question whether he should be handcrafting our son's clothes or whipping up multi-course meals every night. I don't think he was born with that "keeping up with the Jones'" gene which makes him much more zen than I think I would be as a SAHP. I think if you are sewing holiday gifts by hand or making bread every morning because it makes you happy and it's fun for you, then that is beautiful. If you are doing it because of some self-imposed narrow and restrictive vision of motherhood or because you think it's the only way to prove how good of a mother you are than that is tragic. Life is too short to waste so much of your time and talent on things that sap you, rather than build you up.

All of us mothers need to be more quick to show our flaws, to celebrate imperfection in our friends and loved ones, and to be more VOCALLY tolerant of different styles and parenting choices. You are doing that just by writing how you really, honestly feel and not apologizing for it. Keep up the good work :)

Lor said...

Oh, I like this post a lot. Here in France it is pretty much the same : you see more and more moms with great blogs, sewing their kids' entire wardrobe, cooking, only buying their food in organic stores, having new ideas all the time to entertain their children and driving them around to music/painting/gym etc. while also reorganizing their house. OH MY GOD, how do they do it ?
I am a freelance translator and after my daughter was born I did not work much until she was 6 months old (squeezing work during her naps), then she was away from home for two days a week, then for three, and this year I needed to work full time again, but I am always on time to pick her up and if she is sick, I can organize my time to keep her at home. So let's say I went back to work gradually. And I am happy with that! I realized this kindergarden time is wonderfull for her and I am happy with that.
Now that I really have time to work, I "feel" much more available when she is here.
I used to feel pressure to do things for myself too, and now that she is 2,5 years I NEED to do them, I go to a gym class once a week and see my friends much more. But you should do these things only when you really feel like it, as you say, how wise of you!

Carolyn said...

I'm not a SAHM, but I think that both SAHMs and work-outside-the-home mom's constantly ask themselves "should I be doing more?" especially when they look at the people around them (or the people on blogs). I always have to remind myself that I don't know what goes on in other people's lives, what their passions are, how much help they have, or how happy they are. I constantly have to remind myself that the only thing that matters is what works for me (and for my family). Otherwise I will drive myself nuts trying to keep up with everybody else!!

Gillian said...

I'm glad someone else has had the same feelings I have been having. I think I will take your lead and relax a little more. It's tiring trying to do and be it all. Thanks for the post!

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