Military Life · Parenthood · Stay-at-home-sometimes-solo Mom

Moms Grow Up, Too

Confession: I spent no more than three hours at a time away from Walden in the first six months of his life. Then I spent about 3 hours TOTAL away during our first deployment in England.

Back then I didn’t realize how absurd I was being. I felt I would be a nuisance to ask my friends to look after him. I didn’t trust a stranger to look after him. Mary Poppins didn’t show up on my doorstep. So I let myself be sad, lonely and overwhelmed. It seemed easier than going through the work of finding a sitter and being the one to shoulder the blame if she was a disaster.

I felt guilty about choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. It wasn’t something I planned to do, and I was still unwinding from my pre-motherhood job. I didn’t like it all that much. Shouldn’t all mothers be googly-eyed in love with spending all day with their children? What was I doing wrong that made it so hard for me? In my own twisted, hyper-competitive, masochistic way, I felt that hiring help was cheating. So I kept at it. Wasn’t it MY JOB to take care of our baby? Couldn’t I excel at anything I put my mind to? If other women can do it without help, I should be able to, too!

[Foolish, I know.]

Eventually I left my son at a gym’s creche for an hour here and there to exercise. My mood began to improve. I took a writing class. It improved even more. When he was 22 months old (and my husband was deployed again), I enrolled him at a nursery two mornings a week. We added a morning when I started to feel overwhelmed with the baby. I’ve called friends for help. I’ve found a drop-off sitter for appointments to take care of myself. And now I’ve found someone to come to my home to give me a regular break from both boys. These non-stop 6:00am to 9:00pm days plus two night feeds leave me feeling drained. Without the help, we would all be miserable.

Some of my motivation to reach out comes from confidence gained by dipping my toes in the water and seeing that it’s possible to trust other people to care for my children. Most of it comes from knowing that our very best days happen when I’m my Best Self. When I’m relaxed and confident – when I don’t feel overstretched – I have the energy to connect with my children and give them my full attention. I don’t feel buried under the things I want to get done, I don’t resent that I’m not able to wander off by myself. The rest comes with accepting the fact that I operate that way.

I don’t like the idea of being known only as “Walden’s Mom” for the rest of my life. So why have I wanted so badly to be the kind of mom that doesn’t suit me? Now I know it’s OK to focus on myself so that I’m able to be the best mom I am. That’s how moms grow up.

11 thoughts on “Moms Grow Up, Too

  1. I think your title says it all. I am a mom of twenty two years and I do not recognize the me who looked after her first child. I went on to have three more, and I am so much better and a much happier mum now.

  2. I could have written this myself (but not nearly as eloquently as you did). Currently trying to figure out a preschool plan for Sam this year (most require potty training and omg we are nowhere near that), because I was you too. Especially during the first part of the deployment. So miserable, so drained, so irrationally upset with the kids for nothing at all. It is so much better to be mom AND you. :)

  3. This is exactly what I needed to read today. We’re only 5.5 months into this, but some days it feels like it’s been 5 years. There isn’t the option for childcare (or relief, for that matter) while we’re here in Alabama, but I need to make it a point to find “me time” and help once we get to Georgia.

  4. It is so difficult not to lose yourself as a sahm. Then you have to deal with the guilty feelings when you finally make steps to reclaim yourself. Thank you so much for the honesty in your blog. It is so very comforting to know others feel the same as I do. Here’s to wishing you many more days of your Best Self.

  5. Jenn, good luck finding a preschool (and potty training, oh boy)! It has made such a difference. But then it’s funny how quickly that break doesn’t feel like enough :)

  6. Jessica Lynn, I’ve definitely found that time goes by so much faster with the second child. Those ETERNAL days and weeks are still fresh in my memory. Good luck getting settled in GA!

  7. So glad you found your balance, Lynn! I always told myself that even if I came down with millions of dollars and never had to work a day of my life, that I would still do extracurricular activities, volunteering, side businesses, etc. It’s important to feel well-rounded as mothers.

    To be honest, in the beginning I thought what you did but about another mom. I met her for a play date, and she was a stay at home mom but said she puts her kid in school for a few days a week. I was so confused because I thought what was the point of being a SAHM if your kid is in school. Silly, I know, and I know better now, but it goes to show that it’s so easy to make those assumptions, either about ourselves or others.

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