Yes, I Do Have a Life Outside of Mommy-dom

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Being the mom is not my job, it is who I am. I recently read an article where someone replied to the article and subsequent comments with this text. It sparked something within me to write my own perspective on this comment.

BM, my schedule was still filled with all sorts of activities. Lately, I’ve really been questioning my priorities. One of my friends once said, “You can’t be both a good mom and have a career.” At my horrified look, she followed it up with, “Well for me, I know I can’t be the perfect mother I want to be AND have a career.” But the damage had already been done and that comment resonated in my body and rocked the core. Defiant and angered, I wanted to set out to prove her wrong. Fast forward several years and I stand here both a mother and a career-minded professional. I know there are people out there who believe that very statement she made. Some people very close to me have made similar statements to me and have actually made me stop and second guess myself, which, quite frankly, isn’t something that is easily done. Again, I was in a place that I can count on one hand when I’ve been in a lull, constantly second guessing my every action. I went into a mini-depression of sorts, coming unhinged at the slightest emotional detail. I’d set Mari down and she’d start crying, so I would pick her up and suffer lower back pain for carrying her for extended periods of time because I didn’t want to be a bad mom for letting her cry. Every little thing, I had the “but I don’t want to be a bad mom” the proceeded every action. I felt like I was falling and had no idea when I’d land. I was very frustrated and things in my head weren’t clear. Things kept spinning, I was stressing myself, and I swear I was borderline hallucinating. I was losing perspective on it all and well, it was very unbecoming. I was paranoid and fearful. Instead of succeeding at everything, I was failing miserably at it all.

Then, I had a lovely conversation with a nurse practitioner at my daughter’s pediatrician’s office. Karen, God bless her, flat out told me: TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Just because you are first time mom doesn’t mean you don’t know anything. You are well-more equipped than I was when I was a first time mom, with all of the books, Internet, friends, and family. It’s a wonder any of us survived, because at some point or another, all of our mothers and grandmothers were first time moms. So don’t let anyone tell you how to be a parent, not even your mother! You’re a great mom and keep it up.

And so that funk spell was broken and I realized that being a mom is not my job, it is WHO I am. I’m a writer as my job, but I’m a mom all the time, like my eyes are brown, like my left foot is slightly smaller than my right, that my cheeks get bright red when I’m both happy and excited. It’s me. And I’m good at being a mom not because I can nurture, kiss away boo-boos, sing funny songs, or cook homemade meals. I’m a good mom because no matter the moment it calls for me to be a mother, everything else get dropped and I’m there. Anyone who is a good parent would do the same. I admire single parents because they have that extra creativity to make such things happen, when you have a daycare crisis and you have to make the choice to leave work early to go pick up the kids. (but what you don’t see is that they are up until the wee hours of the night to make up those efforts) Oh yes, they earn those dark circles under their eyes, just like I earned every single stretch mark from my pregnancy, nature’s tattoos, if you will. I’m every so fortunate to have a partner who listens when I talk and together we can strategize to take on the world and to make the best decisions for OUR family. (Sidenote: That’s the main thing that our Engaged Encounter Retreat taught us: DIALOGUE) Being healthy is important to live longer to be able to enjoy my life with my family without other health struggles that are encouraged with being overweight. I had to think of ways to be actively engaged in family activities. I was becoming a helicopter, hovering parent but I want Mari to grow to be independent, inquisitive, and emotionally stable: two mindsets that are opposite of the other.

Now, I get up early to get ready for work. Don preps Mari for school. I go down the hall to finish loading her bag. By the time I’m finished, it’s time to kiss goodbye and off we go. I drop her off to school and in the commute time to work, I put on my career hat. I work a full day and I’m surrounded by images of the ones I love to remind my why I work. At the end of the day, I have time to fit in a quick workout (simultaneously avoiding traffic), and get home to finish prepping dinner with my husband. We sit down and eat together and then have family time. It’s life-balance, and even if I didn’t have a full-time job, I’d have to work hard to maintain that level of balance. (and yes, I still get less sleep than BM, but much more than I was getting before!) This wasn't something was achieved overnight. We're still working out the kinks, but this frees up time for Don as well. He has time to get in his workouts in the morning before school instead of worrying about rushing after work. Both of us are less stressed because we aren't rushing as much.

I believe that yes, I’m both a good mom and have a career. I know several women who are equally as successful. Many of whom I follow on here.

So what does the statement Being the mom is not my job, it is who I am mean to you?


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure! But I am hoping for a day very soon when I can struggle through that question...I agree with you, though, that being a mom seems to become who you are. And lately I've been thinking that I don't want to be a perfect mom, I want to be a good mom. I think trying less for perfection might take the stress off and let me enjoy little moments? (Whenever I finally get
to have those, that is!) Maybe?

Who knows. I only have a dog-child right now.

Mrs. Bianca said...

Good response. Yes, and I saw my mother cope with this. She proudly wears her Mom logo on her chest, even though she is less able to physically move like she once did, she's able to balance all of her activities just like she did when we were growing up.

While she didn't have a full-time career, she was always there and she worked and still made time to volunteer!

You'll do great Jenna!

Kelly W. said...

For what it's worth, I think you are a great mom! It amazes me how you are able to fit everything into your schedule and still have the time to be as creative as you are! I don't think I have ever seen you exhausted! How do you do it????

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