As I sit on this relaxing hilltop Starbucks’ deck, drinking my delicious white chocolate mocha while breathing in fresh ocean air…………. ok just kidding, a girl can dream though. Let’s try that again. As I sit here at my kitchen table rocking a stroller with my foot in hopes that my 4-month old decides to take her much-needed nap, and as I watch my 3-year-old fly off the couch in his attempt to mimic Super Mario, I’m trying to recall how my life turned into this crazy adventure right before my eyes.
I recently became a stay-at-home mom for my two children, Jason who is 3 and Emma who is 4 months. An incredible honor and blessing which I don’t take for granted, yet packed with challenges and self re-invention. Although most likely temporary, this transition has taught me a thing or two about motherhood. The joys and struggles of being a mother, the undeniable rewards and sacrifices of taking care of them full-time, and the ability to adapt to my new reality.
A little bit of my back story.
I became a registered nurse at the age of 21. My profession has always been a huge part of who I am. Not only was it the source of a good income, but it provided a sense of professional accomplishment and personal satisfaction. Caring for others and receiving a paycheck for it seemed like a win-win.
When my son was born, my mother offered to watch him since my husband and I had professions to get back to. Living in a big city, meant that both of us needed to work to provide for our family of then three and all of our commodities.
When Jason turned two-years-old we placed him in daycare. It was the only choice at the time and we felt it would be good for him to start interacting with other children. It turned out to be a great choice from the social interaction side of things, not so much from the health aspect of it all.
Sickness was imminent. It seemed like every other week there was a new virus to deal with. It broke my heart to see him sick all the time. We knew that as beneficial as the interaction with other children was for him, we also knew that he needed a break from it all.
He attended daycare for a year until the age of three, then Emma was born. With my mom unable to take care of her this time around, and my in-laws living out-of-state, we brain stormed for options. The big question: “what are we going to do when Emma turned three months and maternity leave expired?”.
Hiring a daytime nanny to take care of them while we were both at work was something we weren’t comfortable with, and sending them to daycare (especially my three-month-old baby) was almost unbearable for me to even think about.
My goal of exclusively breastfeeding Emma for at least a year would be near impossible (something I wasn’t able to do with Jason). So, it came down to instinct, sacrifice, and devotion. After much thought we finally agreed I would stay home with them both. Initially we talked about 6 months, then a year.
We knew it would be financially challenging, but in our hearts, it would be the best choice for our children.
Emma is currently 4 months, and the goal is still to push it as far as we can. In that little time, I’ve come to learn a great deal about myself, about my husband, and about our children. I’ve learned about what truly matters, and about the enormous strength of our little nucleus.
This journey has come with tears of happiness and tears of exhaustion to say the least, but most of all with a grateful heart for having this incredible chance that many parents wish they had.
Financially– Having always relied on two paychecks have allowed my husband and I to live comfortably. Having only one income and depending on our savings isn’t something we’re comfortable with. It’s been really challenging for me not to be able to contribute financially to our family.
Professionally– I love my career. Being a registered nurse allows me to do what I’m passionate about. Not being able to educate my patients, collaborate with co-workers, and put my skills to work is something I really miss. Heck, having a normal adult conversation I really miss, haha.
Emotionally– It feels pretty lonely at times, and it can definitely be overwhelming to take everything on my own while my husband is at work. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had to go through before. Time for myself is non-existent. Even while using the restroom I have a three-year old sitting in front of me on a step stool singing the ABC’s.
Blogging– This new journey has been a blessing, but very challenging to say the least. It can be difficult at times due to my mommy duties. Making the time to run a productive blog while also meeting their every need is an ongoing process.
Juggling everything– When house chores, two kids, and a blog collide, an inevitable sense of overload takes over. It’s been undeniably challenging finding a balance.
TIPS AND TAKEAWAYS
Here’s what I’ve leaned so far and what you can take away from it as well.
Embrace change– Understanding that life itself changes can give you a better outlook on things. Everything comes in phases. Adapting to your new reality and finding ways to cope and enjoy the ride is the way to go.
Invest time in what matters– My children and husband are what matter to me most, so what better investment of my time than that. Granted, there are many other things that are “necessary”, but prioritizing and focusing on things that “matter” will give you a bigger return.
Be grateful– I’ve learned to be grateful for so many things. For the existence of my children, their health, their love, their joy, the opportunity to be constantly present, and grateful to the people who lend me a hand from time to time (my mother and my mother-in-law in particular).
They won’t be little for ever– I recently read a quote on Pinterest that read “Motherhood: where the days are long and the years are short”. That is so true. Before we know it they are off to college and living their own lives. It is my personal goal every single day, despite the craziness of my routine, that I get to enjoy them and be in the moment. That sweet baby smell of my daughter’s skin, and the gentle touch of my son’s embrace as he whispers “I love you, mommy” sporadically through the day, is something I want to engrave in my mind forever.
It’s okay to cry– Many see it as a sign of weakness, but motherhood is definitely an emotional rollercoaster. A “good” cry helps to relieve the load at times.
Things don’t have to be perfect– As a perfectionist, checklist enthusiast, and organization freak, this has to be one of my biggest takeaways. Prioritize, and do what’s important first. I promise you the dish that you didn’t wash and the pile of laundry that you didn’t get to will still be there tomorrow.
Find a creative outlet– Blogging for me has been crucial for my sanity! Not only as a creative outlet but as a much-needed distraction. Find something you love to do and designate a little time for it.
Find support– Connecting with other moms helps a ton. I’ve been part of CafeMom.com for almost 5 years now and it’s been wonderful to have ladies you can relate to, chat with, learn from (specially the maternity group- those ladies are wonderful). Knowing that your household isn’t the only kid crazy circus running around town is very refreshing. Of course, finding time for family and friends is also beneficial.
You are stronger than you think– Never in a million years did I think parenting would be this hard and this rewarding. I am amazed sometimes at the things I can do and at all I’ve accomplished through God-given strength. Everyday we face new challenges as we find a way to make it through another day, and we do. We do it over and over again. All for the love for children and our immense responsibility to provide for them in every sense of the word.
The truth is that although sitting on the deck at that seaside Starbucks, drinking my favorite coffee, and writing without interruptions sounds lovely…..when it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t change this view, in this very moment, from my kitchen table, for anything in the world.