I have been waiting 365 days to write this blog post. 365 long, short, happy, sad, exciting, boring, fun, mundane, busy, slow, up and down days. 365 days that have each been unique… each their own snowflake within the year. Each day has tested me in its own way, making me better (even though some days I got worse first). When I walked away from a job I loved one year ago yesterday, I vowed to myself that I’d write and publish a post exactly a year and a day later reflecting on what I’d learned through my new role as a stay at home mom. Of course, at that time I didn’t predict that I’d spend the last four months of that year crippled by terrible writer’s block, with a head full of content and observations to share but an inability to translate them into shareable material. Perhaps that itself is the metaphor for my year…. a jumble of emotions and experiences too great to put into words. Or maybe, I’ve been so consumed by being home with my kids that I haven’t had a chance to reflect on what that has meant. Or maybe, the words haven’t come as easily as they once did. At any rate, I’m here now because I promised myself I would be, and that is a promise I intend to keep.
When I started out these last 365 days as a stay at home mom, I had great expectations of what that would look like and I’m simultaneously proud and saddened that I didn’t live up to much of that. I had lists, spreadsheets, projects, recipes, ideas and plans… most of which still sit in the same format that they did when I’d initially put them together, completely untouched. It’s not that I failed or that the expectations were too lofty, but rather that I had no idea what my days would be like until I lived them. Until I was the hot mess mom running her kid into her classroom late… again. Or the completely with it mom who planned great birthday parties. Or the mom who baked cookies and sat in the backyard making wishes on dandelions with her kids. Or the mom who had all the time in the world and yet no time at all to get anything done. I’ve been all these moms, and more.
Here are just a few things I’ve learned since this day last year:
- Being a mom is the best job I have ever and will ever have.
- Kids are resilient. They need a guide to help them navigate the world around them, but they are stronger and more intuitive than we realize.
- Moms need a time out every once in a while. Sometimes that time out includes coffee. Or wine. (I’ve yet to need both at once, but never say never.)
- Going to the bathroom alone is a luxury.
- There will always be more laundry to be done and as much as you will it to happen, it will never fold itself.
- Sometimes a bowl of cheerios and milk is dinner enough.
- You can have ratings for your yoga pants, ranging from your nice ones to the ones you only wear around the house. Also, practicing yoga isn’t a requirement for wearing yoga pants.
- Watching too much television isn’t healthy, but sometimes the television is the best (and cheapest) babysitter around.
- Nothing teaches patience better than a child who asks “why?” all the time. Except for the child who says “mommy” on repeat for 30 minutes straight.
- Pinterest is a great place to collect ideas for projects you’ll never do and recipes you’ll never make.
- Put the date for a birthday party in your calendar. Check the date against the invitation. Don’t show up for the party a day early (or a day late for that matter).
- Siblings fight. Sometimes they need you to step in and sometimes they need to work it out themselves because you can’t be a referee forever.
- Every toy, shoe, and worksheet needs a home. I’ve yet to find a home for most of these things, but they need a home nonetheless.
- You don’t have to be perfect all the time. Or any of the time.
- Patience really is a virtue.
- Laughter is the best medicine. Kid laughter is the best form of it. Laugh with your kids often.
- Ask for help. Accept it graciously.
- Put the phone down. Sit on the floor and play.
- Ask questions. Listen to the answers.
- Be present.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Burned toast is salvageable. Burned chicken is not.
- The drive-thru carwash with music blaring is an entertaining afternoon activity. (Oh, and your kids will like it too.)
- Find your tribe. Make friends. Talk to people.
- Being a mom (and being a parent, for that matter) is not easy.
- Be kind to yourself.
This list is in no way complete, but it’s a good start. I was sure that after a year in this new life I’d have some deep and profound thoughts about what this transition has been like. I thought that I’d have a true understanding of both sides of the field having been a working mom, a stay at home mom, and, as I do now, straddling the two. But the truth is… there is no truth. I don’t have a profound understanding, I just have my days. These last 365 gratifying, challenging, amazing days. We spend so much time fighting the “mom wars,” comparing our experiences to others, longing for something else or being completely rooted in where we are. Maybe for some the grass is always greener on the other side. Maybe the grass is perfectly green exactly where you stand. Or maybe the grass needs to be mowed, the laundry needs to be done, dinner needs to be made, work needs to be completed and the kids need to be bathed. It’s just grass, so do with it what you will.