Who am I? As a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

This entry is less "a day in the life of", less Q&A and more about how stay at home moms ("SAHM") find their footing. More specifically, how I found my footing as a SAHM. When I became a mom in 2017 and decided to stay home, it was a difficult transition. It's a really tough time to have the "Who am I" conversation playing in your head on repeat, while navigating all the physical, emotional and mental changes that happen when you become a mom. I should note I also moved across the country while 5 months pregnant,  so the changes were even more dramatic for me. I'm going to take you through some of the questions and answers I have discovered along the way.

Of course, the disclaimer stands, I love my child more than words can say, and I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to stay home. But that doesn't mean it is always easy! Let me know about your experience in the comments.


What happens when what you want to do is much harder than you expected? How do you address that sense of inner conflict? More than once I told myself- you signed up for this. This is the life you wanted. Working in the corporate world for several years, the idea of being a stay at home mom was nearly equivalent to winning the lottery. No Microsoft Outlook? No unnecessary, boring meetings? You mean I can toss my blackberry into the ocean (don't do that, because your company's HR/IT departments will probably want their company issued property back before you leave). You get the point. When I was sleep deprived, hungry, sad, I wondered, why did I want this? It is harder than I ever expected it to be. It challenges me in ways that working a traditional job didn't.

If I press the brake now on my career, will I ever be able to press the gas again? I still struggle with this, if I am being totally honest. I have to believe I will be able to press the professional gas pedal again. I don't know what that looks like. Will I work the same kind of job? Will I try something new? I'm not sure. But I am not wasting anymore time on the what-ifs. All it does for me is create anxiety about something I don't have to figure out right now. It takes attention away from my daughter and from being a mom. This was probably one of the biggest hurdles for me. I have to be OK with not knowing, for now. Plus, a mother can multi-task like no one else and my time management skills are better than they've ever been. So maybe, just maybe, I'll re-enter the workforce once day even better than I was. Certainly, I need to value myself before I can expect a potential employer to. Right?

What do I do when any sense of praise, well done, is mostly/often removed from my daily life? Being a SAHM is often times thankless. My husband is a great partner and he definitely does thank me. I am so grateful for that. My daughter does not. One day she may but I can't bank on that. I needed to learn how to feel a sense of fulfillment minus external praise. Plus, many of the tasks I do aren't typically met with much fanfare. Wow, you unloaded that dishwasher great today! Look at you- washed clothes, folded clothes AND put them away- in the same day? ROCK STAR! Ha! I started praising myself. Just like I did half in jest just now. My daughter is well taken care of and I am taking care of myself too. Add in miscellaneous errands and running the household all day. I'm doing a good job and I would give myself a favorable performance review. :)

What do you do when everything you gleam value from is stripped away? Things like how much money you make, what your resume says, how many compliments or how much feedback you receive? How many times when we meet someone do we start with "What do you do?". What you do for a living is often times so closely intwined with who you are. It was for me, at least. What does saying I'm a SAHM say about me as a person? Does it say I am selfless? Does it say I am lazy? These were difficult conversations I had to have with myself, often, for several months. Who am I? When my resume is outdated (and irrelevant) and I am making $0, I really felt that my value was rock bottom. I felt at times like I was contributing nothing to my family because I wasn't earning a paycheck. I didn't realize how much value I placed on how much money I earned or how many compliments I received, when I worked. There is no mommy resume you hand out at playdates which showcase all the awesome things you do. It really requires working on who you are, aside from whatever role you play (mom, accountant, lawyer, teacher, whatever). Compliments are nice. But I don't get much anymore and I've grown to a place where I don't need them. And that is really neat.


Need to find my identity all over again. I needed to step back and look at myself and really take inventory of what I needed and what I wanted out of life. Take my baby, my husband, my mom, my friends and family out of the picture. What was I missing? This required a lot of honesty and accountability. I am a firm believer that happiness is an inside job. For me, it comes from a feeling of fulfillment, confidence and inner peace. It's when what you are thinking, feeling and doing are in  harmony. I think that's an old ancient proverb I saw on Instagram, but it makes sense.

Being a SAHM can be really hard and really boring at the same time. Sometimes, I am really lonely. And really bored. I am embarrassed to say I am bored. I think the boredom stems from not using my brain the same way I used to. My daughter isn't truly talking back to me yet. There is more interaction, but I used to interact with so many people on any given day. And I really enjoyed that. The first few months, there is hardly any direct interaction at all with a baby. It gets old, fast. While I love so many aspects of the newborn phase, being a SAHM mom has hard, boring phases too. One way I combatted this was by going to the library and getting a large stack of books. Some self-help, some parenting, some fiction. I shut the TV off and started diving into some really good literature. I know many moms want an outlet- it could be painting, writing, whatever strikes your fancy. I have always been a book worm and returning to that was huge for me. I may not read a chapter a day, but if I can find 10-15 minutes to read, it helps my mood and helps prevent those SAHM ruts I was falling into.

The demands of being a SAHM are different and so is the stress. But there are still demands. There is still stress. In hindsight, I think the fact that the demands and stresses I had working were gone, I immediately felt relieved and almost free. And then quickly I realized, there are so many more demands and so many more stresses. Some are much smaller. Do we like peas today- or are we going to throw them on the floor? Some are even bigger- like keeping a human being alive and well. There is no stress free life. There isn't a life without demands. Not for me. I realized if I spent my time trying to live a life without stress or demands, I would surely fail. There will always. be. something. To worry about, to do. My inbox will never be empty. I am a human being and I will have problems- whether they be a fussy toddler, teething, or a head cold. Or something way bigger. We can't expect to live problem free. That's just not reality.

There is nothing wrong with networking. At first, I felt left out. The LinkedIn updates- all these people I knew getting promotions. New jobs. Living their best life. I'm a SAHM so what is the point of networking? Let me tell you, networking professionally really helped me. Even if it was just a cup of coffee with a successful woman that manages to work, kick butt in the corporate world and be a mom. It could be a successful man, talking about how he deals with work life balance. It could be anyone you connect with, professionally. You will be surprised where this could lead. It helped me to talk about my new life and it made me feel relevant. Don't be shy.

Days that are refreshingly unscheduled, at first, quickly become overwhelming. Having a schedule or routine can make it easier to get things accomplished and make me feel more productive. This is a matter of personal preference, I think. But having a set day for grocery shopping, a day for cleaning, library day, whatever it may be, helped provide a sense or order and stability where there was none. I think children thrive on routine, and it helped create a flow to my week. Otherwise, the days started to feel the same and it became one longgggg week. 

I am a better stay-at-home mom when I get out of the house and do things. From the very beginning, just two or three weeks after my daughter arrived, I would go for daily walks. The fresh air and the sunshine had such a positive impact. I encourage all my new mama friends to put the baby in a baby carrier, a stroller, whatever is safe, and get the heck out of the house! I think new moms often feel isolated because they are, in fact, isolated. When it is medically feasible, go to the park. Go to Target. Go to the grocery store. Get out there. Even if the baby is just a tiny (screaming or sleeping) tot, it will do a world of good for you. Of course, always check with your doctor and parent safely. Not every baby or every new mom is ready to go for walks at 2 weeks. Seek the advice of your medical professionals, not me, a mom blogger. 

Make friends. I cannot stress this one enough. Coupled with getting out of the house- make friends. Use the baby to start conversation. Don't be shy. It is so beneficial to have other moms who know what you're going through, because they are going through it too. There are resources for everything out there. One of my closest mama friends I met using the Peanut App which connects moms together (not sponsored, not an ad). I heard about the app and kind of laughed it off. I called it mom-tinder. I was feeling self conscious and insecure, and I thought it was silly. But I setup a profile and went for it. And I met an amazing woman with a daughter 2 months younger than mine. And I know we will be forever friends. There are Moms of Preschoolers groups (MOPS). Stroller Strides. Hike It Baby. Facebook. Put yourself out there. There is no easier way to introduce yourself than with a baby. We are all in this together. And if nothing else, even if you don't make a best friend, you get a little adult interaction, which is like GOLD!

I needed to surrender to motherhood. What does that mean? That means I need to embrace this life. Cheer myself on. Find my inner peace, and my confidence. I wish it didn't take me almost a year-and-a-half to do this. I spent way too much time worrying. But today, I am happy. I feel fulfilled. Some people never find this sense of who they are, so I am glad I did. And I hope I can help others. You deserve it.

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