One of the biggest challenges of being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t involve my children at all. It doesn’t even involve being a mom. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Since leaving my full-time writing job two and a half years ago, I’ve felt like I’ve been floating. Directionless and a little lost. And while I know that raising my children is a huge responsibility and purpose, I was still searching for something that would make me as a person feel accomplished.
I could take this article so many ways. How when we talk with friends or cousins about life, I’m often excluded from career conversations. How I still feel uncomfortable being completely financially dependent on someone else. How I grew up with both parents working full-time jobs and not working feels foreign, perhaps a bit plush. Or how I feel like I should be nothing but grateful because I don’t have to work and can raise my children and be there for all their moments, but sometimes feel like my husband would be the better stay-at-home parent. It’s all true.
It’s also true that I don’t want a full-time job. I don’t want to leave my kids for a paycheck or goal or inclusion in conversations. But that doesn’t mean I want to give my identity fully over to being a mother. And it took me a good book, a supportive family, a psychiatrist, and a Pinterest meme to realize that I don’t have to.
My kids are too young for school, but fall is shaping up to be different than the last three. On my birthday this summer, I was scrolling through Pinterest and a pin popped up that said, “It’s time to get refocused. -God” Now I doubt God signed onto Pinterest and put that there, but it became motivation to go after more. Around the same time, I began reading the hugely popular Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (as soon as you finish my article, do yourself a favor and get this book), inspiring me to not just have goals or chase them, but accomplish them.
Lastly, after a year of postpartum anxiety and talking to a counselor, I conceded and scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist since I was still struggling. She told me something that was a surprise to me; it’s not my job to entertain my kids all the time. Maybe that seems obvious to some, but I literally did not believe this until a professional told me. So I took a part time work-from-home job in my career field that wouldn’t require me to sacrifice time with my kids, but would give me some cash flow. I joined a gym where my kids could socialize while I got in child-free time doing something that I loved but had fallen by the wayside over the last few years. And I made BIG GOALS.
These are goals that I had thought were unrealistic or lofty, that there was no way I would ever actually accomplish so they stayed dreams. Not just “finish making my daughter’s baby blanket” goals. I’m talking Write and Publish a Novel goals. Qualify for the Boston Marathon goals. Goals that I know will take time, hard work, and persistence, but will make me a better person even through set-backs and possible heartache.
Of course, I’m still going to play with my kids. They come first, without question. I love being with them and am absolutely grateful that I get to stay home and spend day after day conversing with a chatty little girl and chasing a quick-footed baby boy. But that doesn’t mean I have to put the rest of my life on hold to raise them. I can still be a present, loving mom to them and they can grow up watching and learning what it means to be dedicated and persistent of your dreams. And what could be better than that?
So now those quiet, lofty dreams are neon Post-Its on my bookcase reminding me every day that even though I’m a mom I have big goals to accomplish. What are yours?