Well, the move is complete and we are now officially Orlando residents. We’ve been here for about a week-and-a-half now and my husband started his new job last week. He’s really enjoying it and while it’s nice to see him excited about work again, I’m having a really hard time.
Over the last 2 years, after I went back to work following a 12 week maternity leave, all I wanted was to spend more time with Peanut. I’d even fantasize about being able to stay home with her. When I had to work nights and I’d go a week or more without being able to put my daughter to bed, I thought there was nothing I’d like more than not having to worry about how my work schedule was affecting my ability to be a good mom. Of course, I would complain about having to juggle parenthood with a full-time job and of course I would feel guilty and of course I would feel as if I could never give any area of my life 100% of me. So yeah, I talked a big game about how great it would be to be a Stay At Home Mom.
But really? If you had asked me to be completely honest, I would have told you that there was no way on earth that’s what I would want. It’s easy to talk about it and dream about it when you know it’s not gonna happen. The thing is…I’m just not SAHM material. Believe me when I tell you this is not a knock on those moms that do stay at home with their kids. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I bow down to those parents because taking care of kids all day is hard. Like, really freaking hard. I know this just based on the weekends when by Sunday night I would start to feel a small -and secret- sense of relief at the fact that I would be going back to work the next morning.
So…I’ve been a SAHM for a week now. I’d like to tell you that I’m handling it with grace and dignity but I’m not. I don’t know who I am anymore without a job. I don’t think I ever realized how much my work defined me and it shames me to have to acknowledge that fact. I worked in television for 17 years. My job was a technical one that required skill and you know what? I was damn good. No, I may not have been the best in the industry but I was good and I took a lot of pride in it. I never had a typical 9-5 office job and while the schedule could often be tiring (nights, weekends, holidays, you name it), I loved it. The fact that I have to talk about it in the past tense now really bothers me. I spend most of my days feeling lost, depressed and resentful. And of course, the biggest one: guilt. Shouldn’t I be happy to be home with my kid? My amazing, funny, smart kid? Shouldn’t I be counting my blessings right now? Should I have my mom card revoked for not wanting to be home with my daughter all day?
But really, who am I now? When people ask me what I do, what do I say? I used to be a technical director? Now I’m just a mom? Yes, I know saying that I’m “just” a mom isn’t accurate. Being a mom is huge, it’s everything really; I haven’t lost all perspective. I’m aware that my family comes first and there’s nothing more important in my life than my daughter and making sure she’s happy and healthy. Yet here’s a truth I have to recognize: I’m not the best person for the job. I’m not the most qualified candidate to fill her days, to educate her, to cultivate her artistic sensibilities or to entertain her. Frankly, most of the time I don’t know what to do with her. I love her but that’s not enough is it? Maybe when she was just a baby and all she needed was to be loved, nurtured, fed and changed. But she needs more now – her time in daycare showed me that. She flourished in daycare and in fact, when she left her teachers wrote a note that said, “Whatever you do, keep her in art! She has an artist’s soul-the joy she gets from creating is palpable.” I’m ashamed to say, she hasn’t done any art since her last day in daycare. The guilt eats away at me. Oddly enough, I think I feel more guilty now then when I went to work every day. At least then I knew that she was in an environment that was stimulating her and she had friends to play with. All she’s got now is a sad, depressed, lost and confused Mom. And that just sucks. Don’t get me wrong: I love my daughter more than I ever thought possible and I truly believe I am meant to be a mother….just not one that stays home.
I’m hesitant to write about this because I’ve found that there’s no group that gets judged more than Moms. No matter what we do, people always have an opinion and seem to judge us more harshly than anybody else. I read an article online the other day written by a woman who was a SAHM for 8 years; she was about to head back to work full-time after all those years and was finally admitting that she didn’t enjoy staying at home with her kids. Based on the comments, you would’ve thought that she was confessing that she had kept her kids locked in the closet and only fed them once a week. They were practically vitriolic in their judgement. If you don’t want to raise your kids, you shouldn’t have had them; what kind of a parent are you that you don’t find satisfaction in being with your kids?; maybe you should’ve just gotten a dog instead…there were more but most of them were along that same line of thinking. Apparently, moms are only allowed to work if it’s absolutely and totally financially necessary. If it’s just something that we’re doing to feel like a whole, complete person? Well then we are terrible, awful mothers who should be ashamed of ourselves.
So yes, judgey people of America, you win. Because I do feel ashamed of myself. But that shame doesn’t do anything to make me happier or make me want to be a SAHM. All it does is make me feel guilty. I want to be completely present and available for my daughter when I’m with her and I think I can do that better when I’m not with her all the time. Today, I wasn’t allowed out of her sight. I literally couldn’t go further than 2 feet away from her before she would yell at me, “COME HERE Mommy!” I couldn’t make her lunch, do laundry, feed the dog or go to the bathroom by myself. The women that love to do this? That find complete joy and satisfaction in raising their kids themselves and can do it without losing their minds? I think you are Gods. Seriously, I admire you in a way that you will never know. Because I’m not strong enough for it and I wish I were. Instead I feel like I’m drowning. I know that being in a new, unfamiliar city where I don’t know a single person other than my husband and daughter isn’t helping. Still, I’m pretty sure that all the well-meaning people that keep telling me that it’ll be all better once I meet people or join some kind of a mom’s group are a little misguided. Yes, it’ll be nice to socialize with other moms but what I really need is to figure out who I am now and what’s best for my daughter.
And with that, Peanut just woke up from her nap…