I never dreamed I would be a stay-at-home mom. Becoming a mom was overwhelming to me at first and work was where I found my sanity. It wasn’t an option financially at the time so it was never even worth considering.
Enter second child. The stars lined up and suddenly my income wasn’t really a deciding factor anymore. My first little baby was scheduled to start Kindergarten a few short months after my maternity leave was scheduled to end. Did I really want to send her to daycare for the last few months I would get at home with her?
The impending reminder of how fleeting their sweet childhood is struck home, and I found myself officially on extended maternity leave. I would start back to work when the oldest went to Kindergarten.
But then I didn’t. For some reason, I couldn’t stand the thought of sending my youngest off to daycare all day long. I puzzled over this for a long time because my oldest grew up going to daycare and I’ll always be grateful for the amazing caretakers who helped me raise her.
I dragged my feet and finally decided that maybe now would be a good time to go back to school. I could go to school part time and still have time at home, that way I could still be doing SOMETHING, but still have time at home, too.
So I enrolled, with the intention of taking on more classes in the coming semesters. And, as much as I loved my class, I was still sick about the idea of putting my littlest in daycare in the coming semesters. I dreaded it.
I can’t convey to you in a short post how much time I spent overthinking this or how many times I tried to reason with my mommy-gut that kept hitting the brakes every time I tried to officially move out of maternity leave. Let me just tell you, it was a lot. But I was in school. I couldn’t back out now.
And then one day, in the midst of my now chronic overthinking, a different “voice of reason” awoke, and loudly wondered “Why can’t you let yourself be just a mom?”
(Disclaimer: I know that no mom is ever “just” a mom.)
And that question got me thinking. What was my problem with embracing this period in my life for what it is? Why did I feel like I needed something else on my resume? Why did I need a definite expiration date on my “maternity leave.” Why was I even still calling it maternity leave? I have the rest of my life to work. I have the rest of my life to go back to school. And I have this short little window of time in which I get to put my whole heart into being “just a mom.” What am I doing trying to fill it with something else?
I don’t know where the little voice inside my head that started whispering ideas about how I needed something else to say when people asked me what I “do” came from. I don’t know when I started needing something other than “I’m a mom.” But there it was. Somehow being “just a mom” didn’t feel like enough.
And that’s total crap.
Because the truth is, this is the work that matters. Loving these incredible little humans. Witnessing these little lives unfold before my very eyes. There is no other work that I will do in this lifetime that will have as profound an impact on the world as these two little humans will. There is no other work that will change me the way they will. There is no school that will teach me as much as I have already learned from being their mom. I am an artist and these two little creatures are my greatest work, a lifetime in the making.
Being “just a mom” looks different for everyone. It may mean working to provide for your littles, to set an example, to be your best self. It may mean having to juggle a million things and still carve out time to be “just a mom.” It may mean having to leave your heart in the care of someone else during the day. It may mean putting your dreams on hold for a few more years.
Or it may mean realizing that your dreams have changed since these little people showed up in your life and your heart. The things that once seemed to matter most may not seem quite as important. And suddenly, the thing you want most in the world is something you had never even considered. It may be as simple as making peace with your own answer to the inevitable question, “What do you do?”
There will come a point in my life when I will need more. I will need more on my resume. I will need inspiration from other adults. I will need a different creative outlet. But at this moment in time, this is my dream job.
I’m just a mom. And that’s enough.