I went to a group gathering this morning called Mom to Mom. I could go on forever about how much I learned and what super people I met...but you would probably get bored...and never read my blog again....so I will just talk about one small thing the we discussed in the small group portion of the group.
Many of my friends are stay at home mom's. Some work part time while being a mom, and yet others try and work full time...but still be mom, 100% of the time. So to all of you - I write this.
Being a mom is truly a never ending job. A job that we work harder at than anything we have ever done...yet a job that has no end...no weekend...no promotion. The laundry might be done...but the glory is short lived.....yep...one day later...there it is again! The dishes might be out of the sink, but sure enough - those little monsters eat again and you are back to the drawing board! Homework might be done for the week for one kids, but what about the other ones....and just when you get theirs done...It's Friday again and that folder comes home with a whole new set of challenges! And so I could go on and on and I am sure you could to.
Now - liken this to the life you had before kids. On Friday - work was done until Monday. If you hated your job you could quit. When one job become mundane you could look for a more rewarding one. When a report was done...it was off your plate. When you cleaned your house, it stayed clean until you had a party - and well..that was worth getting it dirty for! :) Many boxes on your to do list...and many checks in them at the end of the day.
So you become a mother and the "old" you.....has to somehow merge with "new" you...to do a job that is not as final...has no bonus based on good performance....has no award for perfect attendance.....has no paycheck at the end of the week. And what's more...you can't quit! So how do you know you are successful? When do you feel that feeling of "Yes...that is done....and the weight of the world is now off of me? Well...the long and short of it is. You don't get to feel that way anymore! Not without some real effort and planning anyway?!
We love those kids. We live and breathe for them. We say we want to be alone and then we are calling the sitter three times to make sure our babies are OK! So yes...we LOVE what we do. Better than we loved the "old" job. And we love our lives....better than we loved the "old" ones. but this new life comes with some very unique challenges. Holes, if you will, in our self esteem, in our stamina, in sometimes in our hearts.
The lack of recordable success factors often leaves us feeling like we have not accomplished anything...or enough of anything at the end of the day. We have no measure of success on a day to day basis. Sure...a please to a stranger, or an A on a test, but I am talking - true "day to day" work...no real measure of success...just a never ending supply of work. We have feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and self judgement when we see our efforts as falling short of the mark. Causing holes in our being...and emptiness within. And some days...these holes can seem to take up most of our being or at least a larger part than we would like. And then what?
Well, you know WHAT...kids have a mad mommy, mommy has a crappy day, daddy comes home and has a grumpy wife...and everyone goes to bed a little less than happy! And all you care about is that they are all in bed and you are ALONE! :) Those days end...thank Goodness...but they live with us and carry over into the next day a bit each time. Or at least they tend to in my life!
So this is the light beam that struck me today...with the help of some friends... It seems that If I find some some areas in my daily life that "when not completed" leave holes...maybe I can ...anticipate them....plan for them....then maybe...just maybe...I can check enough boxes in my day to feel successful!! Not like the old days....but a middle ground that could bring my "new" and my "old" self full circle. Complete - box checked!
Hmmm...what did I love about my old, controllable, systematic life...that I feel is lacking in my new mommy life? Well...I loved order, clean, crisp, order. Probably not going to find that with four boys....but let's narrow it down a bit more....what SPECIFICALLY did i love about the order? Is there any part of that old me that I could tweak and find a new "perfect" order?
For me....clean floors, empty counters, and organized piles. That is what I always did first when I had all day to come to order with no distractions. And so it begins with me. I now profess, that if I take 20 min, to put dishes away, laundry is the right baskets and baskets int he right place, quickly mop the floors and vacuum....I can check my "life's in order" box for the day!
No guilt if the kids eat PB&J for dinner....because yeah....that was less than perfect...but my day as a whole was a success and that minor nutrition flaw will be made up with eggs and fruit for breakfast tomorrow! See...I think this is really going to work!
Today I started my duties at 2pm and by 2:20 I was at the bus stop...box checked!
I plan to think about this time allotment in the morning...while I am looking at my calendar. So much to do today, but wait...there it is.....30 free min before the kids get home. And so I make a mental note to fit my organization efforts in to that time. If I complete that task, check that box, then I can have that feeling of "job well done and complete" - time to play. And then I can play with my whole heart and not with the feeling of inadequacy that I had not tended to the order of our home! 30 min.....and I get to feel like that? Yep....definitely going to keep this up!
I challenge to find a box, in your life...that you can check each day. The box that makes you feel like you have done well, completed the "important" task, successful! I would venture to guess that for most of you...it is not mopping the floors! But hey....I'm nuts and I accept that! What's your box...and how will you be sure to check it?!?! :)
Is it Thank you notes one week, studying for an hour a day, running. Whatever it is....make it something that truly is such a huge part of "you" that without completing it...you feel less than successful. And Goodness knows... you don't have to share it. We are all nuts and what makes us each feel whole is all over the spectrum!! :) Just make it REAL to YOU!
And I know this is one small idea...in a crazy, very complex life system that we all have. But hey...one idea today is better than none!! :)
And lastly I say this. When child no longer needs a diaper, when your baby is out of preschool, when you toddler learns to walk, when your baby graduates high school or when your daughter chooses the perfect date for the prom.....let this be your celebration time. Let these mile stones tell you that you have done GREAT. You have been promoted and your long hours have paid off! The work you did, the lessons and values you instilled, the way your parented.... proved successful! Hands down...a perfect project complete! Throw parties, celebrate like you won the lottery. Because in many ways...you have! :)