Several weeks ago I confided to Kate that I thought I was starting to “find my groove” as a stay-at-home Mom (SAHM for those unaware of the acronym).
Many of you know from past posts (or just knowing me in “real” life) that I was laid-off from my job in mid-August of this year. My husband Drew and I decided, when that happened, that this was my chance to really attempt the whole stay-at-home Mom thing again (yes, again—more on that later).
“I feel like something has just changed!” I exclaimed to Kate over the phone. “I don’t wake up worrying so much about the day and how things will play out. I’m just enjoying my time with the girls more—and yelling less!”
Silly me for saying those words out loud.
Silly me for thinking this feeling—of perhaps having figured out some “secret formula” to Mommydom— would last.
Because, seriously, it wasn’t even a week later when I admitted tearfully to Kate: “Sooo…remember what I said earlier about the whole SAHM thing? About thinking I found my groove? Yeah, um…scratch that. I am definitely NOT in anything that even remotely resembles a groove right now.”
In the blink of an eye, my somewhat calm and relatively drama-free days with my daughters had turned into a constant quagmire of fighting, yelling, crying, and whining. I felt like the girls were constantly at each other’s throats, and after the 16th time-out of the day, I was—for lack of a more apt phrase— completely losing my shit.
I’m ashamed to admit that “out loud”.
The yelling…oh the yelling. As if the louder my voice was the more they would understand how desperately I needed their cooperation at that moment.
But I should know by now—scratch that, I do know by now, inherently, even if I can’t always put it into practice—that yelling only escalates the situation…adds on a new level of chaos and frustration.
So, yeah. I am failing at the stay-at-home Mom gig, and I’m not even to the 3-month mark yet.
Where’s my medal? (You know, the Mediocre Mom award? And that’s probably being generous.)
Seriously, though, in the back of my mind I just keep wondering…when will I ever feel like I am really thriving as a mother?
Because I’ve been all “types”, really.
a full-time working Mom…
a part-time working Mom…
a full-time stay-at-home Mom during the day with a job on the side…
a full-time stay-at-home Mom…
When my oldest daughter Lucy was born, I went back to work part-time in my marketing communications role at an educational non-profit organization. I really loved this particular Motherhood configuration. I was in the office Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and home with my baby girl Tuesdays and Fridays. The organization was one that was actually supportive of part-time positions—which is not easy to find in many professional positions and organizations. It was a great mix of feeling fulfilled doing meaningful work that matched my skills while still allowing me some quality one-on-one time at home with my daughter.
A nice “balance” (as they say).
Except that “balance” (as it applies to motherhood) is a fallacy.
Because even in this particular configuration, I often felt like I was drowning. The amount of work for a part-time role never seems to quite line-up with being part-time itself. In my experience, you always feel like you’re playing catch-up (what did I miss on Tuesday? So and so did WHAT?), and then you start to wonder: is this even worth it? I’m making less money, but I feel like I’m trying to squeeze full-time work into fewer days without being compensated for it.
And then there’s the matter of schedule. We all know children thrive on routines, and when you work one day, are off one day, then work the next day, it can really throw you and your little one(s) for a loop.
I worked in that part-time role until Lucy was about 10 months old. At that time, Drew had found a job in the aerospace industry—at the same company his Dad had worked at for 30+ years. It seemed like a great opportunity, so when he accepted the job offer, I resigned from my job, we put our house on the market, and we half-moved down to Kalamazoo…living in Drew’s parents’ basement temporarily until our house sold and we could find a place down there to buy.
During this time, we agreed that I wouldn’t look for another job outside the home. I had been teaching college writing classes online before Lucy was born, and so I took on two courses for the winter/spring semester. We figured I’d spend my days taking care of Lucy, then grade papers, moderate discussions, post lectures, etc. in the evenings and on weekends.
Hoo boy. THAT was one of the longest semesters of my life. A month after we moved to Kalamazoo, we found out I was pregnant with Lily. I was battling exhaustion and morning sickness during those early days of the pregnancy while chasing a toddler around all day and then logging on in my “free time” to be all academic and whatnot.
Which was just a wee bit challenging. (This thing called pregnancy brain? I swear it’s real.) I felt like I wasn’t even able to form coherent thoughts, let alone produce thought-provoking lectures, discussion questions, and formative feedback on students’ writing assignments.
The semester ended in May, and somehow through all of that, I survived. Drew’s job, however, wasn’t really working out. He was hired to help manage a project for the COMAC C919, which kept being delayed.
And then there was our house. It wasn’t selling. And the market was so bad at the time that it was becoming clear that we’d take a pretty big loss on it when it did sell.
One night, we sat down after putting Lucy to bed, and it hit us like a ton of bricks: What the hell are we doing here? This job of Drew’s isn’t panning out. Our house isn’t selling. I’m going nuts being pregnant and trying to keep a toddler busy all day in my in-laws’ basement. Let’s just…move back.
And so we did. Drew was able to find a job back closer to home, and in early June, we moved back. I was done teaching for a while. I didn’t sign up to teach summer classes, because I was, well…exhausted, and I also wasn’t scheduled to teach the fall semester, because Lily was due to arrive in mid-October.
So, from June to December of that year, I was fully a SAHM without any other obligations. I really enjoyed those months with Lucy before Lily joined us, but it was one of the hottest summers I can remember, and I was high-risk and hugely pregnant and having a hard time keeping up with her.
Then, just after Lily arrived in October, we found out about Drew’s Dad’s cancer diagnosis. A dark cloud hung over those months as we waited to hear what the next steps were for him.
Add to that Lily’s diagnosis of hip dysplasia and having to meet with specialists who were making MY BABY wear a brace the first three months of her life…and KA-BOOM! Everything seemed to explode out of me onto the floor of the OB-GYN’s examination room during my check-up as she “tested” me for post-partum depression.
She prescribed me an anti-depressant immediately and told me it was essential I take them.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of a Mediocre Mom…