“If you’re doing it right, it should be enough.” A friend casually dropped those words in conversation as we were briefly catching up. She has no idea what an impact they’ve had on me.
She was referring to being a stay-at-home mom, though the “it” in this case could really be anything. I had been having a rough time, and I needed to hear those words. They haven’t left my mind since she said them. She was right. Being a mom should be enough. I needed to not just embrace the fleeting moments and really make moments. I needed to put my whole self into being my son’s mom and doing the best I can do, not just thinking what things would be like if I had more help or a job outside the home or more time to myself. Those innocent words danced over and over in my head for the next few weeks. I was determined to make them my new life philosophy. I was going to make being a mom enough.
Only as the weeks went on, instead of embracing my newfound secret of motherhood and all that comes with such a positive attitude, I couldn’t help but wonder: What if it’s not enough? Did that make me a bad person, a bad mother, a bad wife? I decided that it was okay; it doesn’t have to be enough. I don’t have to settle for feeling like there’s a little something missing. What I had to focus on instead, then, was the “doing it right” part. Of course I still had to figure out exactly what that “it” looked like for me, but I knew then and there that the important part was doing it in a way that was right for me, right for my family. And only then would it be enough.
I don’t need awards and promotions and outside accolades to feel good about myself, but I do need an outlet, a means of expression, and the feeling that I’m contributing to both my family and the greater good of the society my son is going to grow up in. Tall orders, huh? But I realized it was in fact possible; it would just take some work to make it happen.
The big lesson I learned in all of this mental questioning was that I needed to change my outlook. I needed to adjust my perspective to see what I really needed to see. And what I saw was that I’m not the only one struggling to make peace with being “just a mom.” (Although we all know there’s no “just” about it.)
So I’ve spent the last few months carving out my idea of “doing it right.” Sometimes that means I’m worried more about teaching and entertaining a rambunctious 2-year-old or dropping anything and everything when a fever strikes. Other times it means someone else is in charge of watching my son and I’m focusing on working, pushing myself, and finding my niche. Most of the time it means I’m doing a little bit of both, here and there, wherever and however each of them fit into my day. It’s meant dropping the pre-written definitions of being a mom, whether that’s stay-at-home or working mom, career woman or wife. It means making things up along the way, making mistakes, and marking down victories — little or big. Finally, for the first time, I feel like I’m in control. Like I’m finally doing it “right” and that the only way to actually do it right is to decide what “right” is for me.More On