I’m a failure. I’m an overachiever. I’m lazy. I’m productive. I’m kind, loving, giving. I’m hard on people. I have high expectations of others. I’m even harder on myself.
I have left my career of social work to raise our daughter for another year. I’ve earned three degrees. I took care of myself financially up until JW and I moved in together three years ago. At 35, I owned a house, a car, and went on vacations/trips. I am – what you would call – an independent woman. Being ‘dependent’ on someone else is a tough transition, but I’m embracing it. Now that I earn an “income” managing our household and caring for our daughter, I mean to do a KICKASS job at it! I take my new career very seriously and my education/clinical experience has been be very helpful in raising a child and navigation the joys/stressors of our family.
So full disclosure – we hired help for our first year with Dottie. My “Life Assistant” Katelyn is truly amazing. She helps with cleaning, errands, cooking and caring for Dot. Most of all, she keeps me company! Having dealt with depression in the past, we were worried about post-partum depression. I never felt isolated or lonely in these past 11 months of raising Dottie because I had Katelyn to talk to and share every step. She’s a friend, yet I can still be the boss when need be.
I loooooove Katelyn… but with with my hired help comes a healthy dose of shame. I feel ashamed that I still struggle with getting EVERYTHING done on a daily basis. I mean, I have help right? How DARE I feel tired or stressed when mothers out there are on their own?
One of the biggest things I learned facilitating an addictions program was that we each have vulnerabilities. These typically stem from our childhood experiences with family, friends, and romantic relationships… These vulnerabilities can lead us to feeling lousy or lashing out if someone pokes at’em (by mistake or on purpose). One of my vulnerabilities is just not feeling good enough. I never felt like I was good enough at school or any of my jobs (my grades and performance evaluations told me I was doing just fine, but my heart struggled to truly believe it).
Well, as a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), I still feel like I’m falling short. There’s something about being a SAHM that makes me feel like I have to be ÜBER productive. When JW comes home from work and asks what I did today – I feel defensive. I feel like I need to prove that I had a productive day. Silly right? Or if he asks why were out of something, why this wasn’t bought, or why the plants haven’t been watered – even if it’s framed as something Katelyn should have done, all I hear is that I’m failing at my “job”. My “job” is to stay on top of these tasks myself or delegate them.
Then there is Dottie. I feel like maybe I should have done more housework if spend the day with Dottie… or I feel like I should have spent more time with Dottie if I did household tasks… It can be a no win situation.
Though I have help, I juggle: planning healthy meals, cooking healthy meals, maintaining Dottie’s schedule of eating/sleeping/playing, scheduling play dates for Dottie to have social time with other tots, scheduling friend time for myself, working out 3-5 times a week, keeping our home tidy, noticing what needs to be refilled/bought/done, delegating tasks to Katelyn or JW, running errands/shopping, trying to get more than 6 hrs of sleep myself, enjoying downtime (TV/social media), reading informative books/listening to podcasts to keep my intellect engaged, writing blog posts, taking photographs, planning/maintaining our gardens/yard, painting, hygiene (yea, showers & makeup take time!), and romance/intimacy with JW.
Not on this list are things like: washing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning washrooms, laundry, mowing the lawn, walking the dogs 2x a day, etc… because thank GOD Katelyn mostly completes those tasks, though JW and I share dishes and dogs weekends and when Katelyn isn’t around. Not on my list are handyman (handyperson?) tasks that JW is just SO good at (isn’t a handyperson just the sexiest?) and earning money – Thank You JW for financially supporting our family.
Katelyn is starting a Social Work degree this fall. She’s leaving us in a month. I’m so proud of her and excited to support her on her next journey.
I worry too. I worry about myself, my relationship with JW, my relationship with my step-son Jack, and the state of our household. (PS – I have a 19 year old step-son Jack that lives with us) I’m terrified that I won’t be able to be as present with Dottie because I’ll be trying maintain my standards with our home. Note that I said MY standards. JW and Jack are way more laid back in this area than myself. If I choose Dot over laundry and tidying, then I will feel stressed because our home isn’t up to snuff. On the other hand, I feel a HUGE sense of PRIDE when I rock motherhood and managing our home when Katelyn is away. I’ve done it before. I can totally do it again. But can I keep it up week after week, month after month?
With the help of cleaners coming once a week, someone to mow the lawn, and possibly hiring dog walkers… can I do this?
Honestly, it’s not so much doing the tasks – but not getting cranky at my family for “not helping”. It’s more so about not pushing onto them my ideals, my standards, my stress. I want to be the best ME I can be, which means being kind to them. Always. Which circles around to being kind to MYSELF.
I can hear the shame voice, but not listen to it, and tell it to SHHHHHHHH!
I sat down today to do a goal update post. This is what came out. Funny, huh? I guess my ultimate goal is to figure out what my role will look like come September…
I hope to do my review this week of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I really loved it! I’m also currently reading The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary. I would definitely recommend it. Can’t wait to tell you all about it!
So tell me mummas… How do YOU do it? Do you get help? Do you lower your standards? Do you somehow magically do it all? How do you show yourself compassion, as well as be kind to those around you?
Until next time – Read. Write. Grow.