I've been a stay at home mom for 8 years and 4 months. I remember the first few weeks staying home with Aiden. I was so excited to do it but when it happened it was hard. Having no one but an almost 1 year old to interact with all day was less than stimulating. The big decisions were when to ditch the bottle for a sippy cup and to sleep train or not. I remember taking him out to play in the hard in the hopes that someone would walk by and stop to chat for a few minutes because lordy, lordy I was lonely. Eventually, I found a groove and we started going to story time, art groups, and play dates. While I was thankful for the education and stimulation for Aiden I was more thankful for the adults I got to see and talk to. There were other moms with spit up stains on their shirts and ponytails were the norm because none of us had a minute to call our own. It made me feel a little more human every time, to see these women who were going through the same things.
I never believed those people who said that you lose yourself when you have children. Heck no, I wasn't going to lose myself. I was a strong, intelligent, educated woman and I wasn't going to lose any of that. I could be a mom and still maintain my sense of self. I would carve out "me time", go out with friends, perhaps pursue my masters degree. Ha! It's funny now to think how cocky I was because damn if I didn't lose sight of me within months. Strong, intelligent, educated woman became a mom who's priorities were how to get stains out of baby clothes, making sure Aiden's needs were met 24/7 and cleaning my house because as a stay at home mom I felt that that was now my job. "Me time" was a laughable 3 minute shower while Aiden destroyed the bathroom or 15 minutes of doing dishes without Aiden clinging to me if it was nap time. I couldn't pursue my master's degree because with only one income we were poorer than poor and my dreams had to take a backseat to diapers and formula.
I lost myself, my dreams, my ambition, my confidence. Kids teach you over and over again that you aren't going to do it right. You, as a parent, will almost always feel like you are doing it all wrong. And that, combined with having nothing else I could call my own equaled a loss of me. Every decision I made as a parent I questioned and I soon learned that if I vocalized my questions and concerns with other moms they would question my decisions too. Moms have a way of tearing each other down and telling each other they are doing it wrong. I don't know why moms get so competitive and nasty but if I thought Aiden should have a sippy before the age of 1 I had at least 3 moms tell me I should wait until after he turned 1 and that he should be able to be a baby as long as he wants.
Here I am over 8 years later and I struggle. I have to go back to work soon. My youngest is in school full time and there's no reason for me to be home. Part of me still wants to be so I can volunteer at school and in the community and be here when my kids need me but financially that isn't possible anymore. Honestly, I am also wanting to stay home because I am scared and this is safe and what I know. So, a few months ago I applied to be a substitute teacher in our school district. The pay isn't great but it's really the only start I am comfortable with. I used to think I was a great teacher and could handle anything but now? Now I think I am great at cooking, baking, cleaning boo boo's, consoling hurt children, cleaning my home and keeping our home full of the things everyone needs. I don't know if I am a good teacher anymore, I don't know if I can handle working every day and all the responsibilities I already have. I don't know if I am enough to do it all. I will find out next month when I start subbing. I hope that I can surprise myself.
I know I am not the first mom to feel this way nor will I be the last. I also know that I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think. Winnie the Pooh taught me that.