Owning My Role As A Mom

Owning My Role As A Mom
These last three months have been full of introspection, realigning priorities, and focusing on being the best mother and wife I can be. I think I have some stretch marks on my ego from all the growing pains, but that's part of the process, and I am learning to embrace the uncomfortable bits along with the warm, fuzzy ones.
Let's talk about those uncomfortable bits.
You see, I realized something was missing, even though being a full-time mom is everything I've ever wanted. Like everything in life, you don't really know how jobs, experiences, relationships, etc will look and feel until you actually DO them. And, I hate to break it to ya, but babies are non-refundable, "I just want to clarify this item is final sale, ma'am", non-returnable little buggers. And as the random stranger making small talk with you in the baby aisle at Target as you are weighing the pros and cons of pureed fruits and vegetables would say, "Too bad they don't come with a user's manual!"
I'd be able to buy a lifetime supply of the fancy organic baby food if I had a dollar for every time I've heard that one. It's true, though!
Moving on.
I didn't anticipate the emotional and intellectual strain being a mom (oftentimes) brings. Hormones make us crazy enough, but then you factor in the guilt, the monotony of daily routines, and constant neediness, and it can be rough. I don't know that it's possible to prepare for the dramatic shift of having freedom and only needing to worry about yourself, to the instant selflessness required to raise a human being (or multiple). This is why people immediately complain about the lack of sleep when having a kid. It's a brisk slap in the face and it's shouting, "LIFE IS NO LONGER ABOUT YOU! WAKE UP AND NOURISH THIS TINY, FEARSOME CREATURE! YOU HAVE ANOTHER LIFE TO WORRY ABOUT. GET YOUR SHIZ TOGETHER, CAROL!"
I would get into these funks where I was going through the motions and putting on a happy face, but it wasn't real. And I hated it. Wasn't being a mom what I wanted? Something was off, but I had no idea what it was. I started taking inventory of my emotions and what was triggering my motherhood angst. Here is what I found...
A) I am an introvert and need daily solitude to recharge. Being around people for too long drains me, and my children are NOT the exception. And all this time I thought they should be! I thought I was somehow being a bad mother if I didn't want to be in their presence every waking moment. Once this realization manifested itself, I felt so much lighter. I finally understood where most of my pent up frustrations were coming from. It was the simple need for space. Space to breathe and enjoy the silence—oh, is it truly golden! (I now fully appreciate the true meaning of that expression.) I was able to communicate to Matt my need for alone time, and we worked out a schedule. It has done wonders for my sanity and bringing back the energy necessary for being a parent!
B) As much as I had told myself over the years that becoming a stay-at-home mom was my dream and my choice, I was feeling resentment for what I was potentially missing out on. I didn't finish my degree because I had to work full-time to pay for my education, and in the mix of all that I got married and then pregnant a couple years later. Obviously, I pushed my education to the back burner, but I could feel the heat rising as I settled further into my homemaker role. I was frustrated and struggling with my sense of worth. The monotony of changing diapers, loading the dishwasher and going to the park seemed to only make my resentment worse. But why?
I consider myself a creative type of person who needs to consistently be making or doing. It's a way to take the overstimulation out of my brain and turn it into a real and tangible thing. I blogged and used social media as the outlet, but even that began feeling awkward and forced. Again, something was missing. I took a break from blogging to figure out where I truly needed to focus my creative efforts. And then I took a hard look at my resentment and stared it straight in the face. Turns out my resentment led to a bad case of entitlement. Because I was feeling so unsatisfied and uninspired, I felt that my role as homemaker was inferior to the other great things I could be doing. How dare you ask me to make dinner? Why should I have to put away the laundry? I folded it, you know! I DESERVE to sit on the couch on fiddle-faddle on the internet. What else is there to do anyway? This mom gig is boring and I shouldn't be the one picking up after everyone's crap ALL. THE. TIME.
Ummm, actually, Abbey, you should. BECAUSE IT'S YOUR JOB. Act like you own the place and are the baddest mom in town! (That's basically the pep talk I gave myself.) I am not one for being a mediocre employee and I always gave a 110% when I was working. Being a mother is the most important work I will ever do, so why wouldn't I put my best foot forward everyday?
This simple realization and finally getting over myself has COMPLETELY changed my life. I am not any less of an individual because I don't have a fancy education (which I plan to complete once the boys are in school), and my attitude adjustment was the solution. I used to roll my eyes at those moms who were cooking and baking everything from scratch, had clean homes and looked genuinely happy. I thought they were all just faking it like me. Okay, so some probably are, but a lot of them really love their mom job. And that's a beautiful thing. We all have to do lame, mindless tasks everyday, and mine just happens to be finding the match to all 374 pairs of toddler socks. I'll take it!
Luke and Wes seem more fulfilled and cheerful as a result of my paradigm shift. Our children are a reflection of our actions and temperaments, and the last thing I want is them resenting me because I resented them on a subconscious level. (I feel like that sentence seems harsh, but it's the truth.)
C) You know that whole creative outlet thing? (For the record, I really don't like the phrase "creative outlet" but I don't know what else to call it and I can't summon the brainpower to think of anything else to describe it at this point. By now I am almost free associating via my keyboard and I applaud you if you've made it this far. Here's a cookie.) I can confidently say I found my calling once I started my food blog. I always loved sharing recipes here, and styling and photographing food set my heart on fire with inspiration. Even just thinking about it right now is giving me butterflies, I swear!
I once read somewhere that if you're trying to force something, it means you probably shouldn't be pouring your energy into it. This blog has brought so many amazing opportunities, but I've never felt that same passion on here attempting to "curate" a lifestyle. Have you tried branding yourself? It's exhausting trying to make EVERYTHING look perfect all the time. And since I've finally fully embraced my job as a mom, I honestly do not have time to carry my DSLR around with me to document it all.
I feel like I am knocking all of the people who do this. I am not. More power to you if you can pull it off. I just can't, but I still love and appreciate a beautifully styled thing, whatever that thingamabob may be. And in my case, that jiggamaroo is food! I get food. Food gets me. We're a happy family. It stays where you put it when trying to get the right shot, and it does what it's told. And it's pretty! The beauty is in the perfectly imperfect look of it all. Styling food just comes out of my fingertips. I don't know how or why, but it just makes sense to me, therefore it is my new "creative outlet" and I feel an insane relief from the weight of the other stuff. But, I could not have found it had I not started with a "lifestyle blog" nor would I have learned about photography. See? Things always work themselves out and nothing is ever a mistake.
Because I feel less pressure to make this space more styled as an image of my creative abilities, since I have that elsewhere, it has helped me to write how I truly feel about things and share my normal day-to-day thoughts and random musings. This was my intention at the beginning of the year, and I am stoked I found a way to actually make it happen. And frankly, I think it's more relatable, entertaining and what people want anyway.
So yeah.
Cheers to taking ownership in our choices, having the courage to examine and reevaluate life when things aren't working, and finding our true passions! Carpe diem!
(If you got anything out of this post, I hope it's that you see how awesome my taste in movies and television is.)
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