From the time I was a little girl, I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I vividly remember an assignment in elementary school where we were supposed to write a paragraph on what we wanted to be when we grew up, and mine was a thorough description of how I knew with absolute certainty that I would be a mom who stays home with her kids.
I know, GAG.
I promise I wasn’t born in 1952 or raised by June Cleaver, rather this most likely had more to do with how much I enjoyed coming home to my mom after school or getting off the bus to see her and the other neighbor ladies power walking around the neighborhood in their colorful 90’s wind suits. In my then small world, this is what motherhood should look like.
So when my husband and I were staring at those two pink lines in disbelief for the first time, I was immediately thrilled to become the stay-at-home mom I had always dreamed of being. I was ready. Even if it involved colorful wind suits.
A few trimesters later, we were bringing our babies home (Yes, plural. Nothing like starting off parenthood with two newborns!). For the first year, although it was exponentially harder than I ever dreamed it would be, I felt like I was rocking the stay-at-home-mom thing. Once I emerged out of the newborn fog, it became clear that I needed to have a plan if we were all going to thrive at this staying home gig; one that didn’t involve me wearing PJs and watching lifetime movies all day while I snuggled my babies. I was lucky to have a great support system of fellow moms to get advice from, so the mental daily checklist I came up with involved primarily the following:
Schedule (any mom of multiples can vouch that a schedule is everything when it comes to survival)
Good Support System (husband, family, mom friends, church, etc.)
Getting out of the house (playdates, errands, bible studies, outings)
Downtime (outings without kids, Mother’s Day Out, dates with husband, etc.)
For the most part, we settled into a great routine. Even after (surprise!) adding a third one to the mix right before our twins turned two, I continued to do my best at sticking to our checklist and keeping what little sanity I had left (thank you, Mother’s Day Out).
So here I was, a mom of three. All enrolled in MDO. My husband and I were able to establish some great sitters and enjoyed frequent enough date nights. We put them down at a decent hour and were able to sit in bed every night and
stare at our phones have deep, meaningful conversations. By all accounts, I should be living the sweet, balanced motherhood life I had always dreamed of.
But it felt far from that.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the emptiness. The loneliness. Being a mom was supposed to be enough. This is what I wanted more than anything, I left a great job for this. And by golly I was doing everything right! So why at the end of the day was I left with this void?
My husband and I would discuss me going back to work, I attempted direct sales (Ha!), joined and regularly went to a gym, but the void remained. At the end of day, I was sure this was where I was supposed to be. Yes staying home with our kids was flipping hard, but like any job, it has its ups and downs and I choose staying at home with them. So what was missing?
And that’s when it hit me.
At the time I had a personal blog that I would update pretty regularly. I started to notice on the days I took the time to sit down and write during nap time, it was like my world all of a sudden shifted back into alignment. My kids would wake up, and instead of the usual moment of dread that my free time is over, I would eagerly scoop them out of their cribs, ready to tackle the afternoon and soak up that time with them instead of counting down the hours until daddy got home. By writing, I was able to create something I was proud of. Something to share with others that invigorated me. And it had started to fill that empty space in my heart.
I realize I can’t speak for everyone on this, but as I look around at my SAHM friends who are thriving, it’s the ones who haven’t been afraid to pursue their creative outlets. Maybe you love to write like me. Maybe you’ve always had an eye for taking pretty pictures. Maybe you’ve always wanted to develop your inner painter, sketcher, baker or calligrapher. Start a blog, take a photography, art, baking or calligraphy class. Volunteer! There are so many other moms out there that have devoted themselves to helping other women pursue their inner dreamer and creator.
You may not make any money, you may feel like it’s a waste of time, you may be terrified to put your creativity out into the world. For me, these were three pretty loud voices in the back of my head that kept me from devoting my precious free time to writing. But I finally realized that my heart and mind were at their happiest when I took the time to pour into the thing that made me feel like more than just a bottom wiper and boo-boo kisser.
So now when I look back at that checklist I created years ago, I would edit it to include time and space to explore what makes me feel alive. Because let’s be honest, my kiddos deserve the very best version of myself that I have to offer.
And yours do too.
Any other moms out there agree? What’s your creative outlet or way of staying sane in this crazy world of staying home with your kiddos full time?