Saying Yes to Saying No
Moms these days. We do it all. Whether we work or stay home. Whether we have a partner or we’re single. It can be a thankless job, it can be a rewarding job, it could be an extremely judged job. Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of positive things on social media supporting moms supporting each other. I want to say, first, that I love this. I want women to know that they can do it all if they want to! But what if they don’t want to?
I’ve always known that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I had this picture perfect dream where I would wake up before anyone else in the house and get all dolled up for the day. Then, I would make breakfast for my family before my husband went off to work. The rest of my morning would be filled with some light cleaning and a quick workout, followed by teaching a lesson of the educational variety to my children. Then, a trip to the grocery store and another errand or two before I arrived home to begin cooking dinner for my husband.
Arrived- what a funny word. I don’t remember the last time I simply “arrived” somewhere. If there is somewhere that I need to be, you better believe I have at least three dreadlocks hidden in my messy bun, no makeup, and at least one bodily fluid from my child on the shirt that I most likely found on the floor of my closet and chose because it smelled the least like a dirty gym sock. I’m usually sprinting in to make it on time, or at least before Jack’s inevitable public meltdown.
I want to make it clear that I am in no way saying this is a clear cut image of motherhood. I know that I am a “hot mess mom” and I totally own that. There are plenty of women out there who have this mom thing on lock. My best friend has an 8 month old, works full time, and has two part time businesses. She always has makeup on and her outfits are always on point. I totally admire her. That is just not my story.
The point I’m trying to “arrive” at is this: being a mom doesn’t define what we choose to do. I’m a year into this stay at home mom gig and I’ve realized it may not be everything I thought it would be for me. A couple of months ago, just the thought of saying that out loud filled every part of my body with a guilt so deep that I didn’t know existed. Here I am living a life that some women would kill for. I’m fortunate enough to have a wonderful husband, who is willing to work his butt off so that I could stay home provided I do a few simple things:1. cook2. clean3. pay bills4. take care of our son a majority of the time.
What a beautiful setup, right?
Here’s the problem:1. I’m a terrible cook,2. while I love a clean house, I despise being the one to clean it3. I’m horribly irresponsible with money4. I love my son so much, but when I spend most of my time taking care of him, I start to treat him like a work project
I’m going to take a second right here to reiterate that I am in no way putting down the extremely challenging, yet rewarding role of being a stay at home mom, nor am I promoting the extremely admirable, yet exhausting role of being a working mom. I’m just telling my experience with the two, and that experience is that neither are for me.
I’ve struggled with this internal conflict for a few months now. I want to spend a lot of time with my son. I want to be out of the house and around other adults, contributing to something that has nothing to do with my personal life. I don’t want to scrub another toilet or spend my mornings doing the dishes. I don’t want to sit in traffic to drive to an office and spend my day in a cubicle. So what do I do? Am I doomed to a life of being not feeling completely fulfilled?
I’ve started saying yes to saying no. I’ve decided to do a “build your own mom experience.” I’m just not going to do the things I don’t want to do anymore and I am going to do the things that I do want to do… for the most part. This does not mean that I’m abandoning my family and my responsibilities. Nor does it mean that I’m going to ONLY do the things I want to do. I know that I will have to do some things that don’t sound that fun. Sometimes in life we have to pick up dog puke.
Everything in this world comes at a price. I’ve started to evaluate my life and I’m making compromises. With a part time job, I can pay someone to clean my house and my mother in law, combined with a part time sitter, can watch Jack. With a little extra money, my husband could potentially work a little less and help with the cooking, which he actually really enjoys and he’s pretty good too. And the most important thing is that I spend more quality time with Jack, where I’m present and visibly happy.
I’m so happy to live in a time and place where I, as a woman and mom, have options. Everything is not black and white. There is something out there for all of us and we have the power to create our own ideal lives. I realize that I’m very fortunate in being able to so quickly make these adjustments to a life that was already wonderful. Some people are not able to make these changes so suddenly. It may have to be a process for these women, but I want every woman and mom out there to know that no matter how long it takes you, I support your decision to start saying yes to saying no.