“How you doing?”
“Ugh. Busy, but ok!”
Six months ago, this was how nearly every conversation would begin for me. As a teacher, wife, and mom with a 2-going-on-13-year-old and newborn with colic, my life was anything but relaxed. I had to find a new normal and figure out what “ok” looked like for me. Little did I know at the time, my new normal would be becoming a stay at home mom. What I thought I knew about “momming” was about to change drastically.
I battled with myself when trying to make a decision to stay or “go.” Ultimately, it wasn’t my decision to make when my newborn wouldn’t take to the bottle. While I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to be with my babies every day, I couldn’t help but question myself and feel like friends and family would be scrutinizing me. Is being a stay at home mom a job for yesteryear? Would I regret not working a teaching career I loved and worked hard for? Would I let my boys down by not being enough at home? Would my husband think less of me?
I still question it, but now, I just tell myself, “Everyone is screwing his or her kids up one way or another!” Whether I’m sitting in a classroom of 5-year-olds teaching about the life cycle of a butterfly or sitting on my living room rug singing a Blippi song, my “momming” would be far from perfect. The seasons of my life will always ebb and flow, and that’s “ok.” I don’t need to be the perfect teacher or the perfect mom or the ideal wife. I just need to be the best me for this season of life.
While the scrutiny I felt was self-imposed, it was also imprinted on me from the culture of today. It’s as if rest is synonymous with being unsuccessful, or anti-American, or inhuman.
“How you doing?” “Ahh. At peace… great!”
It seems odd to say. Now, staying at home with my boys is far from always peaceful. We don’t partake in vigorous schedules like “Make it Monday” or “STEM Tuesday” or “Theme Park Thursday,” but we do attend art class and take zoo trips and build with blocks and go to appointments and spend time with loved ones. (We also plop down on the couch for some Netflix from time-to-time.) I may not attend Crossfit classes and work up to my 1 rep max in the deadlift during this season, but I sure do a lot of squats while cleaning up toys and burn some calories dancing to “Baby Shark.” I may not curl my hair and get dolled up with makeup every day, but now my self-care can include yoga at nap time and having my 2-year-old brush my hair for me. And that’s the kind of rest I need in this season.
Teaching is HARD. Being a teacher, mom/wife is even HARDER. Teachers need far more R-E-S-P-E-C-T than they get (but that’s another conversation for another day). Worn out from the demands of teaching, I was stretched thin as a wife and mom of two. Let me tell you, though: the job of a stay at home mom is just as much a JOB as all the others. It can be monotonous and messy, but it’s miraculous. I’m at peace with letting myself rest in this new way and figuring out this normal from day-to-day. I don’t spend my evenings grading papers and plotting engaging lesson plans, but instead making banana bread with my toddler and having meaningful conversations with my husband. Oh ya, and breastfeeding.
I have 110% admiration for every mom in every season. None of us are unflawed and our kids all scream in the grocery aisle at some point (Thank goodness for Amazon Prime Now). So rather than contributing to that judgmental culture or making assumptions when you see another momma, let’s practice mutual respect for each other’s seasons. Let’s connect in more meaningful ways to make this “momming” thing more awesome. Let’s find that rest that we all so desperately need.