About a month ago I started to feel unsettled with my current life. Don’t get me wrong – I am GRATEFUL for the amazing life I have. My husband works insanely hard so I don’t have to work full-time. My kids are healthy, happy and fun. I am healthy, active and busy. So what the hell is my problem?
I grew up in an wonderful family where my mom not only retired from being a second-grade teacher to stay home, but also home-schooled all six of her children. That’s six kids 24/7 with a husband who was active duty military and gone more than two weeks a month (during certain assignments). She set the bar high when it comes to being a mom. None of us were drowned in a bathtub. Most of us turned out great (haha). We felt enjoyed, loved and treasured. She’s a saint. I have that same standard of excellence for myself.
And recently I began to feel like I was failing. Miserably. Days seemed longer and longer. Business trips my husband takes seemed harder and harder to manage the house alone. My kids were still happy and healthy, but I was drowning. Adult interactions were abundant but I still felt very “mom-ish.” I compared myself with other moms who had it “together.” People who couldn’t get ENOUGH of their kids 24/7. Moms who did Pinterest-y crap. Led women’s Bible studies. Got dressed in real clothes and did their hair (apparently messy buns and Lululemon doesn’t count). Grew their own veggies. Made their kids’ clothes. I wanted to burn their houses down and cut their hair off in their sleep.
So, I talked with my mom (because she’s my life coach and she’s amazing) and Josh. They both suggested I try working more.
Say what? Why.
“Because it’ll make you happier to use your brain more and feel useful to people other than toddlers.”
“You’ve had a job since you were 15. You’ll feel better.”
“You worked up to 50 hours a week before you had kids. It’s natural to feel a little lost after that.”
“Do whatever makes you a better mom.”
So, I prayed about it. I wanted to have peace with what I chose to do. I am fiercely protective of the wildlings and didn’t want to feel like I was missing anything. So, I found a balance with a workable night shift schedule two nights a week, an awesome sitter who wanted a job for the summer and an even more awesome mother-in-law who stepped in to fill gaps (she cleaned, she did laundry, played with them endlessly. my kids miss her already).
– I do my mom-thing during the day- fitness classes, park, errands, cleaning (ha), etc.
– I nap when kids nap during the day (praise sweet baby Jesus they nap for more than two hours).
– I help get them ready for bed.
– I leave at 620pm.
– I work until 5-7am (sometimes more if the shift has been horrible).
– I go home to sleeping babies who don’t really know I’ve been gone.
– I say “Good morning!” We cuddle (because Jack usually ends up in our bed at 3 am 90% of the time). I go to sleep. They eat breakfast. Josh hands off to babysitter.
– I wake up at noon and engage.
I tried this for a month and re-evaluated this week. What I realized is I’m happier.
– I’m more engaged at home. Increased attention on kids.
– On my phone less.
– I’m excited about being a mom when I’m home. I can’t wait to see them when I’m gone. I’m and emotionally present when I am home.
– My ER patients act like toddlers so they do a great job making sure I feel right at home.
I’m not happier because I work more. I’m happier because I’m more secure in myself. I realize my happiness is not based on what I do, how often I work or how comparable I am to other moms. It’s how satisfied am I in God’s love for me, His calling on my life to be a mom AND a nurse. My job is so flexible that I can do both well. I don’t have to be burnt out on one or the other. By comparing myself to other moms, I was stealing joy out of my own life and sabotaging the incredible adventure that is motherhood.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter what you do as a mom. Whether you work outside the home or don’t. Eat organic or don’t. Have your baby at home or have your baby in a hospital with lots of good drugs. Workout obsessively or not at all. WHO CARES. It’s hard enough trying to survive, but it makes it damn near impossible if we’re all running comparathons.
Enjoy your life. Love yourself. Be gracious to yourself and to other moms (and dads). Spend more time celebrating victories and less time criticizing. We’re all in this together.