I quit my job. My real job. You know the one where you go everyday or multiple times a week and do work and then get paid? Yeah, that one. It’s been almost 2 years since I did that but there are still some days that it feels like it was yesterday. When I first decided to quit my job I had all sorts of expectations as to what I’d do all day, how I’d feel, what kind of Mom I would be, how clean my house would be … well, you get the point, right?
Deciding to quit my Registered Nurse career and stay at home with my kids wasn’t an easy decision. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t love my job, but I liked my income. Once upon a time, quite some time ago, in the early stages of my career, I would have told you that I loved my job. I didn’t have kids and I went to work and came home, had a few days off and then I went to work again a couple of days later and I didn’t think twice. I loved the people that I worked with and I loved the people that I cared for and their families. And then I had kids.
With our first child, I didn’t have a choice of whether or not I could stay home. My husband had recently decided to switch careers, we had a mortgage, bills to pay and I was the bread winner in our family. I worked hard to pay for my husband’s schooling and pay the bills and well, live life. I left my oldest son with family and went back to work after my maternity leave was up. It didn’t take me long to realize that being at work while someone else cared for my child wasn’t what I wanted, even if it was my family.
However, at the time my hubby still wasn’t making enough money and there wasn’t another choice. Instead we decided that baby #2 should come along so I could have another maternity leave. Soon enough I was back at home with 2 kids. I loved every minute of it, but when my maternity leave came up after the year, I went back because I didn’t think we were in a position for me to stay at home. Besides, I didn’t want to ‘waste‘ my 4 year degree on being a stay at home mom. (So silly right?)
I was miserable at my job and began to loath going there every time I had to. I worked less and less because my husbands work schedule was demanding and having two kids in childcare wasn’t what I wanted. We couldn’t afford it either unless I went to that dreaded job full time. So I continued to hate my job, but went there anyway because I had to. And then we got pregnant again. This time it wasn’t just one baby but two. I was terrified and scared of how things would play out. I didn’t want to go back to work but again felt I had to or should. After going back to work for two 12 hour shifts, we decided that me staying at home with our kids was what we wanted. And so we made the decision for me to quit.
There have been so many times over the past two years that I have doubted my worthiness as a contributing member of our marriage. It’s been hard mentally to not be able to contribute financially to our household. My husband assures me that I’m doing an amazing job of raising our children and that is what I should focus on, not anything else. But sometimes, I still find it hard. Sometimes I wish I could make money for our family and still be totally and unequivocally present with our children. I even went so far as to join an MLM to try and do that. It didn’t work. I had a very hard time trying to balance everything and I failed miserably. That’s ok. Maybe it just wasn’t for me or maybe the timing wasn’t right or maybe its just harder than it looks.
Regardless of any of that, I can tell you that being a stay at home mom has been one of the hardest jobs that I’ve ever done. Not physically hard, but mentally hard. I have to be ‘on’ all the time. I don’t get days off where I can run to the grocery store kid free or get my nails done on my own. Sometimes even going to the bathroom or having a shower on my own is a luxury. (All you other moms know what I’m talking about here, right?) Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining and I have so much to be grateful for. My children are all healthy and relatively happy (most days). But all those expectations I had of what it would be like being a home with my kids all day? I was dead wrong on most of them.
I am incredibly happy being at home with my kids. This is what I am meant to do. My little people and my family are my purpose. And, Momma, if you are anything like me, I know how many times you’ve doubted your ability to raise kind hearted, happy, incredibly thoughtful children. That’s all I want them to be — kind hearted, happy and thoughtful. Nothing more. Over the last two years, I gone from one spectrum to the other and I can tell you that there are so many things I wish I would have known and understood before I started this stay at home mom gig. Here are a few things I wish I’d done.
Drop your expectations at the front door.
All those expectations you have of how you will parent your kids or all the things that you won’t do, drop them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have standards or values. But don’t set yourself up for failure. You’re not perfect and neither are your kids. Mostly parenting is about making mistakes, admitting you’re wrong, learning from them and moving forward. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve apologized to my kids. My kids know that I am not a perfect Mom. I am learning as I go and sometimes I make HUGE mistakes. So, check those expectations Momma, you don’t know what the future holds and I can tell you that you’ll make your fair share of mistakes.
Get off social media.
Listen, sister, that other Mom that you follow on IG — I’ve got news for you. She doesn’t have all her *ish* together. She just chooses not to show you the messy. Everyone has their own version of chaos. Everyone has their own version of messy. Don’t believe that what you see is what you get. That Mom may have her house spotless on her social, but I can guarantee you she’s not showing you it all. Just stay off social media Momma. Trust me on this one.
This was definitely something I needed to work on. I wasn’t brought up into an overly positive family when I was younger. Both of my parents were very pessimistic and so I learned to be the same way. Everyday I start my day with thinking of a couple of things that I am grateful for in my life and that sets the tone for my day. It also sets the tone for my interactions with my kids, my reactions to what is going on and gives me patience, joy and enthusiasm for them. Learning to practice gratitude may seem like a ‘no brainer’ to some people but for me this one took a bit of work. It has been one thing that has completely changed my life for the better.
Give yourself grace.
Momma, you are not going to have it all together all of the time. Some days you might totally crush this mom thing and then the next you might feel like you’ve failed miserably. That’s ok. We all have days that are amazing and then we have those days that are mediocre or maybe even downright crappy. Your kids are learning how to be kids and you, Momma, are learning how to be a Momma. So give yourself lots of grace.
Fill your own cup.
Self care. I’m not talking about mani-pedi’s here or day trips to the spa. Those are nice things, but what if you can’t afford those? I can’t. What I’m talking about is finding that one thing that you love to do and going and doing it. Maybe it’s reading a book in a hot, bubble bath after your kids go to bed. Perhaps it’s working out for 30 minutes everyday. What about putting on your favourite podcast and going for walk in the fresh air? Self care looks differently for everyone. What I know is that you should take time to do something that makes you happy every single day. You can’t pour from an empty cup Momma. So if you want to keep giving your best to your kids and your family, I suggest you take the time to fill your cup back up.
Momma, you are doing an amazing job of raising your kids. Amazing. Whether or not you’re a stay at home mom or a working mom or a work at home mom, just do your best. Your kids need you to show up for them every single day. So drop all your expectations at the door, stay off social media and stop comparing yourself to all the other Mommas out there. Most importantly, give yourself lots of grace, always choose gratitude and remember to fill your own cup.
And always remember, YOU are enough.