I have heard a couple of my stay-at-home mom friends lately talking about how they feel like they have become a lesser version of themselves. And this seems like it is a common thing with moms. It has been on my mind a lot lately and I have a few thoughts that I wanted to share.
First, let me tell you a little about my story. I was apprehensive about becoming a stay-at-home mom. I enjoyed my job and I was pretty good at it. But, I also looked forward to spending more meaningful time with my kids, having a more relaxed schedule, being able to do fun things throughout the day. At the time I started, my kids were 5 and 3 with one on the way. I had a month with the first two boys at home before Stratton came along. I was a stay-at-home mom with three boys. And I was awesome at it. We had craft times, went to the library for story time, made lunches together, played outside every day, and went to every play date and event that we could. Then school started and I began my new career as a chauffeur. Spending a lot of time in the car, we played fun songs and prayed and had conversations. I really felt that I was nailing this thing.
Fast forward to the present and it looks a little different now. I have two kids in schools on opposite sides of the town. We spend a lot more time in the car. I spend much more time doing laundry and vacuuming the endless dog hair piles we have in our house. I spend less and less time on crafts, instead I’ll just help the kids find them on pinterest and work on the projects themselves. I let them have screen time, we have pb&j and easy mac for lunch, and we listed to the radio in the car. I would like to say that this is our new rhythm, that the effort I made at the beginning wasn’t sustainable and had to change. But, the truth is – I was changing. I’m not happy about or proud of the parent I was becoming. Something had to change. As I started to spend more time figuring out what should change. Here are some things I’ve learned on the way:
- Pray about your situation.
We recently had a sermon at church about stress at work and it really resonated with me. My job, as I see it, is taking care of my family. God has me exactly where he wants me to be. I needed to hear this and hear that this a valid occupation and that I need to see it as one. I began to pray about my job and pray about my attitude towards my job. And my “employees.” 🙂
- Find your passion – do something!
My life outside of parenting was still pretty focused on parenting. I help lead a Moms’ Group at our church, I teach the Kindergarten class at church on Wednesday nights, I serve on the Preschool & Daycare board at our church. But, I also have a running group that I run with a couple of mornings each week, and I serve on the Missions board at church too, I still read often. But, none of those things are were my passions lie, although there is a connection to my passions in each of them. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoy all of these things. But lately, I have been trying to think of what has changed in last year or so that drained me of my excitement. I knew one right off the bat – work. I wasn’t working. From there, I tried to think of the positions that I’ve had since I started working and which I enjoyed the most. I know at some point I’m going to start working again, so I needed to find what would be the best fit for me. I really enjoyed my time working as a webmaster (remember those?!) when I first got out of college. But, that was many, many years ago…15 probably. I knew that coding has changed quite a bit since then. But, I also knew there were a lot of resources available. I started a free online coding class. And then quickly found another that was a bit more in-depth. And I cannot. get. enough. I love it. I’m not even working, but I’m doing something that I love. Something with a goal. And it has made a big difference. (Interested in coding? I’m using Khan Academy. Check it out.)
- Help others.
Another thing that has been weighing on my mind lately is the reaction to refugees and Muslims in our community. As I started to research the resettlement program and the lives refugees are fleeing, my heart really broke for them. Especially for the refugee women. I won’t go into a lot of detail about it, but I knew that this was something God had put on my heart and mind for a reason. I looked into the volunteer opportunities available and immediately had an idea to start a play date with refugee moms. Initially this idea was meant with excitement, but the director was unable to find women that were interested and the effort just kind of fizzled out. Recently, a volunteer coordinator was hired and planned a Christmas party for the refugee families. I volunteered at the party and spent some time talking, or sometimes doing a weird version of charades, with some women and enjoyed it so much. I talked with the coordinator about trying it again and we are finally putting a plan into the works. And I feel that I’m doing something meaningful and giving back to a population that needs a little love and acceptance in our community.
- Get help.
For some, this may not be enough. If you can’t get through your slump, it might be more than that. Get some help. Tell your family, find a counselor. It will be worth it, I know it will. Need help finding someone? Let me know, I’ll help you out!
All this to say, if you feel like this, maybe the thing you need is you. What really amps you up? Is it crafting? Cooking? Debating? There is something that you are passionate about. What is it? And, maybe it is your kids. For me, it was something in addition to my kids. And finding, then doing something about, that passion has made me better at the other things in my life. Although, cleaning bathrooms will always suck.