Before I had kids, I dreamed about being a stay-at-home mom. Growing up, we were lucky to have my mom home with us most of the time, and I guess I thought that that's how I would want to raise my own children, when the day finally came. I dreamed of cooking hot meals every night for my little family, crafting and playing in the backyard with my children during the day and having play-dates with my friends and their kids. I loved the idea of having the whole household under control and making life easy for my husband by rocking the homemaker role. Mom, you made it look so easy and so glamorous!
As it turns out, I am happy in that role about one day per week and otherwise feel totally and utterly stifled.
Being at home alone, all day long, with two young children is just... not for me. It took me 3.5 years to figure that one out, but I'm absolutely sure of it now. It's not that I'm ungrateful of the fact that I even have this option! It's just that this option is not the one that works for me. I have many mama friends whom I know would love to stay home and maybe aren't able to for financial (or other) reasons, and I feel for them, because I know what it feels like to want to be in a position you're not currently in.
I wish it were different. I would love to love being a stay-at-home mom. The cold, hard truth is that it's not what makes me happy. Any parent knows that it's unnecessary to even say things like "don't get me wrong, my children are my world and I love them like I've never loved before," because we all love our children like crazy. But, I've come to recognize that loving my children unconditionally doesn't mean that I need to be with them 24 hours a day. Loving my children means being able to provide them with all the physical and emotional support, encouragement and tools for tackling life that I possibly can, and I cannot do this for them if I'm not in the right physical and emotional space myself.
When I dig deep, this is what I know about myself: I'm as much a social butterfly as I need time for myself. And that is a deadly combination when I'm stuck in the house all day long. Children or no children... it just doesn't work for me.
It's hard to be true to oneself, especially when children are involved. Our kids come first. It's engrained in us AND hammered into us from outside influences. I'm finally at the point where I'm understanding that as important as my kids are to me, I am equally as important to them, and this means I need to do what's right for ME to be able to give them all the very best that I can.
At first, when I came to this major realization, I felt like I had failed. I convinced myself I was just doing something wrong and that there are parents that would give anything to be where I was, so I needed to give my head a shake, suck it up and just keep going. It took a lot of soul-searching to admit to myself that this isn't a matter of failing or succeeding. This is about happiness and well-being and I haven't been listening to my head, my heart nor my gut when my entire body was telling me that I wasn't where I should be.
So, where SHOULD I be? That's where this all gets even trickier. The whole point of me entering into the entrepreneurial world and running my own business was to have the flexibility to be there for my children and to be there for them MORE. I worried that by returning to work full-time, I'd miss out on all the special 'early years' moments that I really didn't want to miss out on. So, where's that beautiful balance that we all seek?
I'm peeling back the layers to find answers to those questions. Here is what I know so far:
I can be the most important person in my children's lives (alongside their daddy) in quality hours every day. I don't need to spend every waking minute with them for our relationship to be deep, meaningful and beautiful.
And that's about all I know for sure, but I figure it's a good starting point and I now have a focus to work around.
The logistics will fall into place. They always do, when your heart is in the right place.
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