This morning I walked my five and half year old to the playground of the elementary school, then waved and blew kisses goodbye as she lined up and walked in for her first ever day of (public) school. The doors closed, and my eyes welled up and I began the short walk home while tears streamed down my face. It was such a bittersweet moment. I can’t help but think how quickly the last five and half years have gone by.
As many of you know, I’ve been chatting a lot about my kiddo starting school, and how that gives me the incredible opportunity to begin pursuing being a freelance artist as my full time job. And while that is amazing, there is a lot of sadness that accompanies this transition. It’s the closing of a chapter in my life. I will never be able to go back to those young years where we spent all day every day together. So, I decided I’m giving myself a two week staycation during which I will do exactly whatever the hell I want while my kiddo is at school. I plan to be productive, but if the day comes where I just want to sit on the couch and play Mankind Divided for six hours, I’m gonna do so. It’s almost like a grieving process; allowing this new transition to sink in. So today, since I’m feeling quite nostalgic, I wanted to share some lessons I learned as a stay-at-home mom.
1. There will always be people who judge you. I’ve heard of
people idiots judging working mothers for ‘not spending enough time with their kids’ but I didn’t think it would happen on the SAHM end. I was wrong. It didn’t happen often, but I’ve had a few people who tried to make me feel bad about choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. That it’s ‘degrading’ for me to choose this life. One particular winner asked me what I do, I responded with being a stay-at-home mom, and they rolled their eyes at me. To all these people, a giant fuck you. This was my personal choice, and it’s one I will cherish forever.
2. Trust yourself. I think all parents have heard the advice to trust themselves and their instinct when it comes to their kids, but you have to trust yourself in terms of what is best for you as well. I had so many people tell me I’d ‘get sick’ of being a stay-at-home mom and want to go back to work, or that I’d ‘eventually’ want a second child. Um, nope. It’s been five and a half years and I’m STILL not ready to be done with my SAHM life, nor do I have any desire for a second kid. People may pressure you, but only YOU know what is best for you & your family.
3. You can simultaneously love your child more than you thought possible, and also want to throw them out the window. Kids are fucking frustrating. They are utterly amazing, yes. And the love I have for my kiddo goes so beyond rationality. But often she makes me want to rip my (and her) hair out. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY THAT HAVING A HISSY FIT DOES NOT GIVE YOU YOUR WAY??!!!!? So if you ever feel the urge to strangle your kid on a particularly frustrating day, it’s okay, we all do.
4. You will realize you never appreciated your free time. I no longer remember a time when my thoughts weren’t occupied by the well being of another little human. I truly don’t. I mean, I know that time existed, duh, but I don’t actually remember the feeling of being responsible for only myself. And that makes me realize just how little I appreciated that feeling when I had it. ‘Free time’ as in time where you can just do whatever you want at any given moment basically disappears when you have kids. And I don’t mean that in a bad way; it’s just an adjustment. We still do tons of fun things; we just adjust them to work with the fact that we have a kid.
5. Being just a mom is not enough. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. When my daughter was born, I threw myself into being a mother. I stopped all other hobbies, I did nothing but tend to my kiddo for more than a year. And when she was about 14 months old, I started feeling incredibly unsatisfied. Which of course, made me feel incredibly guilty. But over time, I realized that I was more than just a mother. It wasn’t my only personality trait. Did I really want my daughter growing up seeing that the only thing I focused on in life was her? I didn’t. I wanted her to see me, all of me, and that includes all the things I loved. Being a parent will take over most of your time, but it’s not all of who you are.
Those are the biggest nuggets of wisdom I’ve gleaned from a little over five years being a stay-at-home mom. I am so incredibly lucky that I’m in a situation that allowed me to make that choice, and it’s a decision I have never regretted for one second. My little miss went off to school today to start a new journey, and she was bursting with excitement about it. They grow up so fast!
If you have kids, what was the biggest thing you learned after becoming a parent? If you don’t have kids, what scares you the most about becoming a parent someday?