I’ve been home from work roughly eight months now and I am still struggling with this not-so-new role of stay-at-home mom. My son is back to school five mornings a week, which is good for all of us, but something doesn’t feel right. I’m excited about taking a few mommy-and-me classes with my daughter since I never had the chance to spend much one-on-one time with her as I did with my infant son, but I still don’t really identify with the other women who are full-time mommies.
They seem to thrive in their roles, ever-organized and prepared. I feel frazzled and discombobulated most days. Getting showered, cooking and tidying up the house have always been easy to do with kids, but extending myself beyond the four walls of my world just doesn’t seem to happen. I didn’t volunteer to bake or shop for my son’s school Halloween party. I rarely have time to buy small gifts for my good friends’ kids when we are going to be seeing them even though they’ve done so for my kids. Even this weekend, I waited till the last-minute to buy snacks for our guests and when I finally got around to doing so, my son insisted on joining me and only allowed me to go to the nearby Stop and Shop. Yes, some how I have allowed my life to be dictated by an almost-four-year old.
And being home is isolating. I don’t arrange many playdates because of my son’s current phase. Basically, he is fine telling children that he doesn’t like them, doesn’t want them to come to our house ever again, and has gone as far as to push or grab them. While most moms have been in similar positions, and the moms who have witnessed my son’s behavior have been more than patient and understanding, I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable and makes me feel like this is just one more area in which I’ve failed at being a mom.
My husband has told me I need to be less hard on myself when it comes to doing things in the home and for the kids. A therapist also noted that I have extremely high expectations of myself when it comes to being a mom. Over the past year I’d started practicing yoga again and find it particularly useful for breath work as well as focus. Yet, even when I take a yoga class at the town YMCA and use the Tot Drop for my daughter or son, I feel guilty. The time I am giving myself, I am taking from my children.
In the past five years I have got married, moved out of New York City and into the suburbs, have had two children and quit my job. All of that change is enough to make anyone lose their minds as well as sense of self.
Today I’ve given myself permission to sit and write while my daughter naps and my son is still at school for another 15 minutes. I will do the laundry tomorrow and cook dinner later. The toys aren’t picked up. Instead, I took a step toward putting “me” into who I am today: a mom.