My husband asked me last night why I always portray myself as a SAHM (stay at home mom) who doesn’t do much outside of just taking care of the kid? He’s also constantly validating how much work that is for me and how I do a great job at it. He’s constantly telling me how proud he is of me, how proud he is to call me his and how proud he is of the accomplishments of our daughter. She has learned to swim by 18 months old. She is learning so much. Daily she is gaining words and tools for communication. She knows colors and numbers and possibly even some letters. Most importantly, she’s a lovely child and whenever we take her in public people fawn over her because she is such a lovely little person. For some reason though, I still feel inadequate on a lot of days. Granted, all of this is still really new. I have only been a mom for 19 months now. I was pregnant for 9 months before that. I’ve only been married for a year now and we had a short relationship before we got pregnant. I went from bachelorette to family woman in a flash. It’s only been just over a year since I quit my job and became a SAHM. Clearly that is not a lot of time to make these major adjustments yet I am handling them well.
We talk about trauma responses a lot in our home. My husband and I both grew up in abusive family homes. We know that we carry a lot of trauma responses to this day. Being constantly busy is one of those responses. Multitasking to the point of exhaustion is definitely one of my adult responses to childhood traumas. It’s something I see my mom doing to herself as well. It’s something I see a lot of women doing. It’s never enough. We don’t deserve to rest. There is too much to be done. Why is it never enough? Is it truly never enough? Why can’t we allow ourselves to rest? Why can’t we allow ourselves to let go of stimulus (caffeine, sugar, nicotine, etc.) and just relax into ourselves? Why can’t I hear my husband’s words and believe them?
It’s true that being a mom and a SAHM means doing a lot of unnoticed things. We clean up constantly, we wear all the hats. We are the last ones to bed. When husband says he’s tired he just gets up and goes to bed. When we start winding down we have to put the kids to bed, clean the kitchen after dinner, maybe do that thing you couldn’t get to while the kids were awake, clean ourselves and then we get to bed. But why do we still feel inadequate knowing that if we weren’t here everyone would suffer our absence? I know as a woman who used to have a career and who used to be a practicing artist who regularly showed my work at markets, I sometimes miss this work. Then I get a babysitter and I find it hard to concentrate on making art because I only have a few hours and I’m thinking about my kid. I also have witnessed many moms pick back up with their art making at a later age and just soar to the moon with it. I LOVE spending my day with my daughter. It is my greatest privelege and honor. It isn’t a sacrifice for me to focus on her. I do know that as she gets older I will slowly gain my own independence back and return to art making. For now, I enjoy making collage birthday cards and quick watercolor paintings, blogging, vlogging and cooking. Whatever gets a little creative energy out. I also have time to work out and I’ve found a way to do that WITH my child that is rewarding for both of us. In fact, when she is visiting with my mother she will often “work-out” in my mom’s living room. She mimics the moves I do in our own living room which tells me just how valuable it is for me to be showing her that exercise is important! I think that I am finally starting to see some of the fruits of my labor in terms of my daughter speaking and physically showing me all of these things that she has learned through me being home with her. The value of that is starting to sink in just a little. I do realize that in order to value myself I must give myself time to think. If I want my daughter to value herself then I must model this for her. Whatever my weaknesses are she will suffer from them in one fashion or another. So moms, you must first do it for yourself and then do for your families. They will benefit from you valuing yourself. It’s a lifelong learning curve, I think, but we can start today.