When my husband and I were in the early stages of dating, he told me one of his goals was to be successful enough in whatever career he chose that his future wife didn’t have to work. Though we were merely young college kids and hardly knew what life would come to hold, I took great offense at his innocent remark and neither one of us has forgotten that little exchange to this day.
I’ve worked hard my entire life to be something and do good in this world; to achieve success and have a meaningful career. When I became a mom, I didn’t subtract from those goals, I merely added to them. I wanted to be a role model for my kids, to show them that you could be a female that “has it all”— a career and a family.
And for four years I’ve done exactly that.
I’ve been lucky enough to work in a profession that’s allowed me to mold and adapt to my family’s needs, balancing working from home and being with my son. But as the arrival day for baby number two inches closer and closer on the calendar and I struggle to balance fitting it all in, I’ve been wondering if just being “mom” would be such a bad thing after all.
For the first time in four years, I’ve been thinking that only having one thing on my plate might be kind of nice after all. So far in my journey of parenthood, I’ve prided myself on managing to maintain both sides of myself: the mom side and the working woman side.
For the most part, I take offense when people assume I don’t work or contribute financially to my family. I get upset when people think I’m “just” a stay-at-home mom and don’t realize I work. I say this knowing full well what a full-time job being a stay-at-home mom is, and I myself never think of moms who stay at home as “just” anything; I know it’s as equally hard work as working full-time, just in a different capacity. It’s just never really been something I could fully embrace.
Now, when I have mere weeks until baby number two comes along, when I’m frantically trying to get it all done. I’m trying to get ahead on work, we’re in the middle of renovating our basement, and we’re still in the midst of unpacking boxes in the new house we moved into this summer. Plus there’s a nursery to finish and projects to complete.
And most of all, I have a son who needs and deserves my attention, especially since these are the last few weeks when my attention belongs to him and him alone. These are the last few moments for the foreseeable future when it can be just me and him; when we can bend the rules of nap time and bedtime; when we don’t have to cater to someone else’s needs. These are the last few days where we can take a hassle-free trip to the science center, the playground, or the pumpkin patch without worrying about a baby’s needs or schedule. These are the minutes I just want to soak up with my one baby, who’s already not a baby anymore.
But then there’s work that needs to be turned in, consult calls to complete, and clients to attend to. There’s work that’s due now and there’s work that I’m trying to get a jump start on so I can at least have a few days of maternity reprieve before having to dive into my computer again.
When I add up all the minutes and hours spent working, for the first time I see them ticking away as valuable time taken away from my son and family. I’m constantly wondering what project I need to be working on next or which client I need to follow up with; wondering how I can continue to grow my business and how to not let it fall apart before the second baby is old enough for childcare.
Instead, those harried moments could be extra minutes lining up race cars on the playroom floor or painting pumpkins on the windows (because why not) or simply snuggling on the couch watching a kid’s cartoon instead of also multitasking away on my phone. To be truly present when my son asks for one more hug as a delay tactic for nap time — to enjoy that stolen moment instead of seeing it as cutting into my limited work time. Moments I will long for in a few weeks when my attention is suddenly divided between two little ones who need me.
I wonder too if I would be a better mom and wife if my daily duties were more focused and less all-encompassing. Might I finally have time to do the laundry and put the clothes away? Have the grocery shopping done and dinners made? Have creative activities for my son to do instead of turning to the TV yet again? Would I have time to give to my husband, who often falls last on the list of everything that needs to be taken care of? Or maybe, perhaps if it’s not asking too much, that’s how I’d finally have time to take care of myself?
I know wholeheartedly that being “just” a mom isn’t easy either, but for once, the idea of only having one thing to focus on sounds glorious. To put all my energy in one basket — taking care of my family — instead of figuring out how to divide it up into neat little buckets to ensure everything that needs to get done gets done. Right now, in this stage, only needing to worry about what day my son has show-and-tell and what I should cook for dinner sounds utterly relaxing. It makes adding another child into the mix without breaking down in to a million pieces seem almost possible.
I’m not delusional — I know that life rarely works out so easily and the grass is always greener on the other side. Every single scenario a mom could find herself in provides its own set of difficulties and advantages. I also know that in the long run, I’d go crazy if I didn’t have my work; I love it and the mental change of pace it provides.
But right now, in these very few moments, I wonder if it wouldn’t be nice to just hit the pause button on all things that aren’t my family, without worrying about the financial impact or long-term implications that it might have.
To find your identity in motherhood (both personally and professionally) is a battle, and one that changes not only from year to year, but moment to moment. And in this moment, for the first time since becoming a mom, I wouldn’t mind if my sole identity was just that: mom.More On