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.
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?
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.
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.