Feed it to the Dang Shark: My struggle with WAHM guilt
Yesterday, my friend received a text from her husband after feeding and putting their kids to bed by himself that read, "your job is hard". I told my husband about it to get his opinion on the matter and he simply stated that being a stay at home mom is not hard, it's menial. Some synonyms of menial are boring, dull, routine, degrading, and humdrum. Now before you get your panties in a bunch, he's right. He's not saying being a mom is not one of the, if not the most important jobs on the planet, it's just not the most mentally engaging. I used to manage a bank, now I wipe pee off the floor.
Don't get me wrong, I freakin love my kid's guts. But I want to be challenged, engaged and passionate about more than just what theme my kids lunch is going to be today. I feel incredibly guilty for the lack of fulfillment I have in motherhood. I dreamt about being a stay at home mom for a long time and now that I'm here, it's not enough. I've realized that children are one aspect of my identity but there is so much more to me than solely being a mother. I am a creator, I am a wife, I am a friend and so much more beyond being a mother. Being a mom doesn't have to be the only way you bring value to this earth.
You are going to feel guilt no matter what. You could feel like working is a struggle because you can't be there for your child every moment of their day. You could also be with your kid every waking (and sometimes sleeping) moment and go nuts from the monotony and mental exhaustion. The grass is always greener and no matter what, you will experience guilt for how you feel things should be.
In November I had the opportunity to attend The Alison Show's Brand School. One of my main takeaways was an exercise where you feed whats holding you back to the shark or in this case to a person in a shark suit. It may seem like a silly little game but it had a huge impact on me. I've since learned that this relates to an age-old stoic practice of focusing on what you can control and discarding the rest. Or in other words "feeding it to the shark."
As a mom, we are bombarded by internal and external pressures. We put so much pressure on ourselves based on what we feel we should be. I should be fulfilled as a mom. My kids should constantly be entertained and learning. Am I giving them a good childhood, do I yell too much?! We are inundated by social media on what a good mother should be. I should never have dishes in my sink. I should give 110% of myself to my kids everyday. I should always be exhausted because if i'm not, I must not be doing enough.
I don't know about you, but I don't meet any of this criteria and I'm ok with that because not all of it is within my control. I'm working on letting go of these expectations and instead focusing on what I can control. I can't be with my children 100% of the time, but I can be 100% present when I am with them. Letting go of my guilt as a "work at home mom" is the only way I can be true to myself. I am more than a mom, and the rest is just shark food.
Photo by Lightchaser Photography NV