There was a time in my life when I only wore high heels.
Even after a long day at my advertising agency, I’d find myself walking around my Boston apartment in my mini stilts. It just looked good, and that was part of who I was.
A year later, right after the birth of my son, I distinctly remember showing up to the pediatrician office wearing my L.L. Bean slippers because my post-partum feet were too swollen to fit into any real shoes. The slippers replaced the heels without a proper goodbye. This was just the new part of who I was.
There is nothing greater in my life than my son and my daughter. Nothing.
Watching them grow into real people is nothing short of amazing. The sheer force of love I have for them is equally life-changing as much as it is life-shattering. Vulnerability knows no bounds when you have something you feel like you are fiercely protecting from the moment they take their first breath. I can’t even remember when I “choose” between my kids or my career. I just didn’t go back to the office.
“Should” is a powerful word.
Since I decided to stay home, I should be immensely patient with my children.
I should take ample time each day to teach them their ABCs and how to count to ten.
I should have an endless well of ideas for fun crafts, and I should know how to make a reindeer ornament or a proper macaroni necklace from my well-organized art supply box.
I should enjoy baking during the day.
I should love to cook dinner. I should be able to keep my house clean. I should be able to do all of this with a smile on my face, because that’s what a “stay-at-home” mom does.
If this was who I should be, why did I feel like I was doing a bad job?
Should-nots. Those are interesting, too.
I should not be bothered I was in maternity clothes for two years with back-to-back pregnancies.
I should not feel guilty that I was changing diapers instead of using my two college degrees.
I should not feel like everyone around me was doing amazing things while I was picking up dried Cheerios off the floor.
I should not be alarmed that I didn’t recognize who I was.
When we agree to make these terms to fit just right, I feel like we lose ourselves. We try to be the ideal “SAHM,” “the career mom,” the “have-it-all mom” (an urban myth, FYI)—and it’s no wonder that we feel like we are failing. These roles don’t exist and we need to stop acting like they do.
In the last six months, I stopped trying to fit myself into that tiny niche.
Yes, I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I also started a natural beauty/skin care company with my sister and I am a freelance content writer.
I sometimes toss a toy into the playroom over my shoulder to meet a deadline. I sometimes read my kids’ books when I’m still in my sweaty morning workout clothes (side note: I worked hard to get back into these pre-pregnancy jeans and I know I should feign humility over this, but I’d like to take this opportunity and scream it from the rooftops).
Some days, I can’t get enough of snuggling with my kids on the couch (thinking please, please don’t grow up) and some afternoons I hand the reigns over to Thomas and his trusty friends because I don’t feel like hanging out with them.
Yup, I said it. There are some days that I wish I could call out from this job. That’s okay.
You know what else is okay?
It’s okay that on Friday night, when my kids and husband are upstairs reading books and having those special bonding moments, I want to drink a big goblet glass of Malbec and watch Sex and the City reruns instead. It’s okay that I sometimes choose to go to hot yoga (the land where no can scream mama) on Sunday morning over a family park day.
It’s okay that sometimes I pick me over them.
Let’s get rid of the terms “stay-at-home mom,” “career mom” and “having-it-all mom.” No one wins here.
While we’re at it, let’s stop focusing on the should and the should not – and start to love the okay. Let’s also embrace the gray area. We are all amazing women that have extensions of ourselves, whether it’s children, careers or all of it. It’s time to find the inner workings of what makes us tick—the things that put a fire under our belly before kids. We need to rediscover the people we were before we picked our “role.”
So now, three years after that first pediatrician visit, what shoes am I wearing today?
I still wear my slippers at night, but the heels are making a comeback during the day.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Hannah Harris / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Raphael Labbe via Flickr