"Are you a stay at home mom, or do you work?" is a question commonly asked around the playground.
I used to struggle answering and fumble around with my words. If you're also in an undefined role relating to your kids (or anything) this may help you work it out a bit.
"The weekends and most days after 2p I'm with the kids. And one date night. and when I go to the gym/yoga. Unless something comes up with work or I need a shower or "me" time." That's hard to explain to a complete stranger at the park. There's really not a word for what I am.
Don't get me wrong: I'm AN AWESOME mommy. I love my kids more than anything on the planet and would give my life for them. If you asked me to jump in front of a moving vehicle for them, I wouldn't even hesitate, I would just clarify which color vehicle to throw my body in front of and I'd be off. They are my world. I ache for them when they are not beside me, which makes me adore the time we have together even more. They are my reason for living and I wouldn't be whole without them.
Lately, I've come into a place where I feel comfortable with my answer and grounded in my unique mommy role.
My response now? "I work a few hours a day for my own company and spend the rest of the time with my kids." And that's the truth. For some reason, I felt like there was something wrong or I wasn't a good mom if I wasn't being a typical stay at home mom. (mommy guilt, anyone?) That the way I'm "supposed" to be a proper mommy; to stay home all day every day with my kids. But it's just not reality and the bottom line is it's not what makes me HAPPY.
I am a BETTER mommy (wife, friend, sister, daughter, human) when I have ME time. When I get away from my mother role and contribute to the world in a larger way and put my energy into something that inspires me.
I go to the gym 3-4 days a week and sometimes bring the kids and put them in kids club. Other times it's my start to the day and I just go on my way to work to take a shower byMYSELF, without holding an infant or explaining to a toddler why I'm shaving that and that no, it doesn't hurt. I leave the gym feeling naturally energized and motivated to take my chaotic day on with (hopefully) grace.
I take one evening a week for ME. Not with the hubby, just ME. Every Monday evening is Sophie night. Adi takes the kids and handles the bath and bedtime routine and my night usually consists of going to hear my favorite inspirational speaker Marianne Williamson and spending a few minutes before or afterwards at the coffee shop nearby journaling my notes and feelings. It feels GOOD to be ALIVE and a person outside of my mommy hood. Her powerful lessons and words light me up and give me inspiration for the week to come and remind me of what's truly important. As an entrepreneur and solo business owner, wife of an addiction researcher who is constantly "on" and helping his clients, a dedicated friend, sister, neighbor and citizen, I need to be lit up by others so that my flame can continue to shine bright.
We have two nannies that work on different days, each of them averaging around 10 hours a week. I trust them incredibly and it's nice to actually know there's another person out there that can handle your children if you can't be there and loves them as if they were their own. My nanny's thank ME for their amazing work. They think of it as a pleasure to be able to be with my kids, which only further proves the saying "it takes a village". We have several backup babysitters who we know from the gym or from friends and from sittercity.com (which I highly recommend!) We keep them on our roster and reach out anytime we need 45 minutes to just run out and grab a drink together to unwind and reconnect WITHOUT children. To have adult, uninterrupted conversations. This is key for our marriage/relationship and we are consequently better parents for those little monkey's because of it. We have a set date night of EVERY SINGLE Saturday night. It forces us to go out even if we have nothing planned (i.e. would rather stay in and watch netflix in pjs eating ice cream) and see a movie or grab a bite.
Don't get me wrong: I am with my kids A LOT. And any less wouldn't be ok with me. I spend every single morning (sometimes 5am it begins) with my kids and take Kai to school at 8:30. I'm the one to pick him up almost every day, assuming there's no work/traffic emergency. All weekend long it's me and the boys, galavanting about. Adi works a lot so unfortunately it's usually me alone with those little rabbits. When Adi is with us it's that much more magical. I pick Kai up at 3p most days and on Friday's at noon. I'm home by 2p latest almost every day to let the nanny go so I can spend some quality alone time with Leo before picking up his big brother. Then it's madness and chaos through the afternoon (playdates, park time, library, walks, etc) until the dinnertime, bath time & bed time routine. Most of it is super high quality time because I'm not so distracted by work stuff/social etc because it's out of my system from the few hours spent before. I used cloth diapers most of the time with the boys. I breastfed. I'm creative with them and challenge them to use their imaginations. I feed them the most beautiful food on the planet and stay updated every moment the kids are away from me. I have the babysitters/nanny's write down every single thing Leo does while I'm at work- feedings/sleeping/etc so I can feel totally tuned in when we reunite. I get frustrated. Sometimes I'm short with them or lose my temper. I make mistakes. However, I love the way we do things and feel incredibly content with the current status. My only hope is I can take maybe one more hour away from work each day and give it to Leo in the upcoming months or maybe take an entire weekday away from working in the next 6 months to spend alone with my small man. It's all a balance and it's been a fun ride figuring out what feels right for me.
There are some women out there that are just REALLY GOOD at being a stay at home momma. I tell myself they probably have more patience and are more organized. And that's okay with me! I finally feel at peace with who I am and have settled into this role of "mostly" stay at home mommy, and I'm better for it. No more guilt! (on this topic, anyway!)
My point? It's ok to handle things differently than the status quo. I don't consider myself to be any less of a GREAT mom because I don't spend EVERY WAKING MINUTE with my darlings. I don't judge myself for taking time to be passionate about other things in life besides my kids. And if you're a full-time working momma, kudos to you for dedicating so much effort and time to something that will make their lives better in the future. It's not easy leaving them for so many hours every single day. If you ARE a stay-at-home mom, you are a rockstar. The 100% full days I spend with my kids (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and occasionally a day during the week) I am WIPED by the end of the day. Each day is unique and beautiful and I thank God (the universe, fill in the blank) everyday for blessing me with these children and this oh so mysterious life.
There are some parents that are just perfectly fit to a certain way of doing things, like it's ingrained in who they are. For one of my best friends, there would be no option of her working for a single hour one day a week. For another close friend, she couldn't fathom spending time with her kids without the nanny there at the same time, just the thought overwhelms her. And all of it is perfect. Just be true to who you are and play around with different possibilities (more/less hours with a sitter/nanny/preschool/daycare/work/hobby) until you find your perfect parenting situation. Remember: parenting can exist on a spectrum, it isn't all or none. Your perfect balance is out there, just be open and flexible, honoring your truth.