BabyRoX, Leah, Parenting

Wednesday by Leah: The Hard Parts

30 Jan ’13
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Most of the time, I really love being a mom. More than I expected to, actually. But of course there are hard parts. There are some really difficult days. And this whole journey has been surprising. I thought I’d start working when Jonah was 3 months. Then 6 months. Then a year. Well, here we are at 14 months and – while I do work SOME, on both our business and some contract social worky stuff – it’s FAR less than I thought I would. Because I want to be hanging out with Jonah.

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I went to a great college. I spent time abroad. I got a Master’s degree and a job after grad school that most people would envy. My husband and I have a successful photography business. It’s not like I don’t have options. It’s not like I don’t have student loans.

I’d just really rather play with my son. MOST of the time. But then there are times I want to hang out with friends. Or write. Or I just really want to clean ALL THE THINGS at once instead of in bits and pieces over the month. Or I want to go out to dinner with JUST my husband. Or I just want a break from being a mom.

And that’s when things get hard, because that’s when the Guilt Monster comes to visit. I feel guilty because I don’t bring in much money, and – while I’m insanely lucky to have access to free childcare, it’s not all the time, so a lot of the time we do have to pay a sitter to watch Jonah. And how is it fair for me to be SPENDING money I haven’t earned just so I can take a break? From something I’ve chosen and wanted to do? I wouldn’t have this issue if I was a working mom. It seems totally fair to me for working moms to pay for childcare AND pay for a sitter to have downtime and date nights. I mean, gosh! They are WORKING! And then they need a break from all the WORKING! Plus, they have their own income, so of course they should spend it as they see fit. It even seems totally fair for OTHER stay-at-home moms to hire sitters. Because of course they need date nights and down time and they probably have way cleaner houses than I do, too. So why am I the only mom NOT deserving a break? Or some me time?

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But actually, I worked through a lot of that. Yup. We have a lovely friend who comes to watch Jonah twice a week, for around 3-4 hours at a time. I also have a mom’s support group I go to every other Wednesday, AND I have an awesome meditation/spiritual development class I’ve been going to on Tuesday nights. And Mark regularly takes Jonah and tells me to go do my own thing – blog, take a bubble bath, have a long phone call with a friend, etc.

Yay, right? Problem solved! Except… it’s *still* not enough. I still feel unbalanced. I still feel like I’m not getting enough time to do the cooking and cleaning and the reading and writing and the meditating and socializing and and and and….

Apparently, I need more “ME” time than 12 hours a week. And when I look at it like that, it doesn’t seem SO wrong or bad. I literally only have 12 – or sometimes fewer- hours each week solely to myself. That breaks down to 1.7 hours per day. Obviously, it’s a slightly different ratio given our current childcare arrangements. And some moms get WAY less than that, I know. But for me, it’s just not the right balance and even if it sounds super selfish, I want and need more time than that. So we have to figure out a way to make that happen. Paying for MORE childcare, scheduling regular date nights, Mark rearranging his work schedule (and basically, working fewer hours) to spend more time with Jonah. It’s gonna happen. And I’m going to work on NOT feeling guilty about it.

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Which, for me, is one of the hardest things about being a mom. It’s SO easy to feel guilty. Especially because I *chose* to do this full-time, so what right do I have to complain? I love my child. I love that I get to spend so much time with him. But I love me, too. And I need to spend some more time with myself. And my adult friends. More than I already do. That way, when our lovely friend/sitter comes to watch Jonah, I’ll actually go take time for myself instead of talking her ear off for an hour because YAY FRIEND! I will use that time productively, and then I will socialize when I’m not asking her to come over and watch my kiddo.

14 months into motherhood, and I’m STILL struggling to find a balance. But it’s a process. And I’ll get there. I’m on my way.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Tristan Brenske 30 Jan ’13 at 3:36 pm

    You are so right about this. Choosing to be a stay at home mom is a tough/fulfilling/at times confusing position to be in. It has been for me, anyway. I have failed many times and in many areas as I search fo the "perfect balance" but I have come to find some success in some areas.

    Please do not feel bad for wanting to find that balance! I used to feel very guilty and conflicted and I realized how much of a disservice I was doing to my family by not allowing myself the space and time I need for myself. It is so crucial to maintain your identity and true self, even when it is easy to be consumed by the development of your child's identity and self. The best thing you can give your child, and yourself, is an example of individuality, passion, and love for yourself.

    You are an incredible person and an even more incredible mother.

    <3

  • Reply Lori Sheridan Federico 30 Jan ’13 at 3:40 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if choosing to go back to work was a cop-out, as in it allowed me to skip thinking about balance and finding my footing with motherhood when I could hide under the guise of the "working mom" title. The truth is it's all so very hard – either way. But from what I can tell, you're rocking it.

    • Reply Heather Thomas Lakes 30 Jan ’13 at 8:10 pm

      wow, this totally hit the nail on the head for me, I totally feel the same way, need more me time but feel guilty and stressed about making that happen.

    • Reply Lori Sheridan Federico 30 Jan ’13 at 8:22 pm

      FWIW, I say do it :)

  • Reply Angela Mitchell 30 Jan ’13 at 3:52 pm

    As a working mom, I feel guilty about hiring a sitter because I already leave him with other people for 40 hours a week! I think every mom experiences some kind of guilt. It's hard to find balance in a relationship with just a significant other, so once there are dependents involved, it gets even more complicated.

  • Reply Rachel Barrieau Ezzo 30 Jan ’13 at 4:05 pm

    I think this is easier said then done but – you definitely shouldn't feel guilty for needing more for yourself. Yes, you love Jonah and are very fortunate to be able to stay home with him. But, raising a child isn't easy. Just because you love him doesn't mean you aren't working. I sometimes think that I would be a way better Mom if I was at home with Adam everyday. But, he's doing okay I think. :) But, you still time for yourself. By taking care of yourself you are doing what is best for him. Being a Mom is just part of who you are and if that was your only focus you would definitely be out of balance. (By the way, I'd like to be added to the list of adult friends to hang out with more, maybe even a Mom's day!:) ) You are just one of the most genuine, considerate, loveable, and thoughtful people I've ever met. As a mother, I can understand why guilt creeps in but I seriously can't imagine a more devoted and amazing mother than you. Jonah and Mark are some lucky boys!

  • Reply Jamie Fergerson 30 Jan ’13 at 4:27 pm

    Oh, guilt. I've always excelled at guilt, but motherhood has brought it forward in a way I've never known before. Never in my life did I question whether or not I wanted to be a working-outside-the-home mom. Every woman in my life growing up – my mom, my sister, my teachers and friends' moms – was a WOHM. Of course I would be, too. I have fourteen years (and counting) of post-graduate education. I've had very fulfilling jobs. My family needs me to work to provide health insurance. But now that I am a parent, working is really hard. It sucks a lot sometimes. We pay a lot for daycare that isn't exactly what I want but can't afford the kind of private childcare/nanny that would be my ideal. Or it doesn't exist close enough to us. I feel like being at work is a cop-out because it's easier than being a stay-at-home mom much of the time. When I first went back to work (and still on occasion), I'd go out to lunch at places where kids were with their moms and cry because I wanted my kid with me. I only see my baby awake for 2-3 hours on week days when I can't get out of here early. (Thank goodness for cosleeping and reverse cycle nursing.) That means I don't want to get a sitter or leave him at Play Care at the YMCA or have "me time" on the weekends, even when I desperately need it. Balance is hard. The choices I've made are intentional, but that doesn't mean they're easy or that I don't constantly reevaluate them. I don't write all of this to complain (I try to keep most of my kvetching off of Facebook :) ) but to say that I respect you and your choices, and that it isn't really easier the other way around. I'm keeping an eye on how you find balance, though, and plan to learn from you! I think you're doing as well as any mom of a toddler that I've ever known <3.

  • Reply Samantha Chiu 30 Jan ’13 at 11:36 pm

    Great to read this Leah. As a mom of only 3-ish months, it's interested to read about trying to find a balance of everything in life. I didn't realize how challenging it really could be to balance all aspects of your previous life as well as these new ones. I don't think you should feel guilt at wanting time for yourself. Heck, it's a necessary thing for everybody to maintain some sense of self. If you're attached to your little one 24/7, you'll forget who you are! I know for me at the moment, there aren't a lot of "me" time activities, but I still take my short time I have to try and keep for myself. You've been a great mom for 12+ months and I'm sure as time keeps going, you'll learn even more ways to have time for yourself as Jonah grows. :D

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