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I'm a Happy SAHM, Yet...

Being a stay at home mom is a mess of contradictions.

It is liberating yet, it feels suffocating at times.

I long for the days when I problems solved with a team at work, yet I don't want to go back. I don't want to be tied to deadlines and what someone else deems important, yet I know I have the same thing here at home as well.

I don't want to miss a thing in my kids' lives, yet I am dreading going on the field trip, and being trapped all day with over a hundred second graders.

I sometimes feel guilty that my husband battles a long commute and works all day, yet I also resent his off time on the weekends when he gets up, runs, watches football or does whatever he wants while my "job" continues, 7 days a week.

I feel guilty for being mad about it because I know I have stolen moments throughout the day here and there to do what I want to do, yet it is nothing like a day off with someone else taking care of everything that usually falls on me.

I feel loved by my children and my husband, yet I feel like they don't appreciate what I do. The toilets I cleaned, the dog puke I cleaned up right in front of them while they remain blissfully unaware it even happened.

The day in and the day out is monotonous and mind numbing and not glamorous at all, and I feel like my masters degree goes to waste daily. In fact I pursued my career to avoid having to make my living doing most of the tasks I now do on a daily basis and I feel like there is no way to measure success and achievement. No performance review (which I hated anyway), no raise or bonus, no paycheck at all. Like it or not the world measures success in terms of monetary value or awards and recognition. Things very much missing from my life now.

As I look back, there are things I do miss about those work days, and I am often stuck in this abyss of not being fully in either place. Neither here nor there. A place where my children think I don't work. Where they can't imagine that I dressed up went to work and had a team of people that called me the boss, and got things done. A part of me that feels lost, yet I really can't commit to wanting to find it either because I also want to be here.

Maybe the thing I miss the most is that feeling of achievement, of working with a team of people to reach a measurable goal. Sure, I have dabbled in the politics of PTA volunteerism, and it has bored me out of my mind. The passion and mania to do all we can for our privileged children makes me feel so out of touch. It's volunteering to say "I volunteer" but it isn't making a damn bit of difference to those on the receiving end, and that leaves me feeling empty. Those kids lives are not going to be changed if here is no carnival or field day. They already have so many extra curricular activities that they can't fit it all in anyway. I find fake achievement leaves me feeling more hollow than no achievement.

So I am searching for answers. A way to live now, without yet's. I came upon this quote:

I realized it is time to examine my premises.

The fact is, while I did do great things at work with great people, I can't really remember the specifics of any of it. Life continued on without missing much of a beat when I left and my replacement started. I was not irreplaceable.

My work was measured in someone else telling me what they thought of my performance over the year. Here my "work" is raising my kids. However, I do not want my kids to carry the burden of my public ego. They need to mess up. They need to be punks, to say mean things to their friends in the heat of an argument, to learn to apologize and manage their temper so they don't say mean things, and to learn to forgive when their friends say mean things to them or learn to walk away from someone that is always mean. They need to mess up to learn right from wrong, so one day they can make those decisions with out me.

This is a job where my goal is to work myself out of a job, not become indispensable. To dim my light a little more each year as they grow brighter and more independent, or better yet, to shine my light on something else as well. I am finally in a job where being "good enough" is better than being an overachiever.

It's so easy to get swallowed up with the yet's and feel like you can't breath or move forward, yet that is exactly when we have to move forward. Yet will suck the life out of you if you let it.

Examine your premises of what you believe you have lost, and find that something somewhere else. Maybe it is volunteering at school, your child's or an underprivileged school, or at an animal shelter. Maybe it is starting a blog about one of your passions or hobbies or writing a novel. Maybe it is finding a way to use your degree to help at a food bank or some other non-profit or maybe now is the time to explore another field altogether. Nonprofits need the same kind of help that any business needs. No review attached (or paycheck), so no pressure.

Here is the thing though that is critical for me for moving out of the "yet's". I need to learn to change my premise that money and recognition are tied to success. This has been hard, because I never really thought that mattered to me when I was working.I thought I didn't care. Really, I didn't need to care because everyone knew my role and place. Now I need to re-examine the premises that may have served me in the past, but do not serve me in this current role I occupy.

Success is having the bravery to leave the past behind, and redefine your role on your own terms. Learn to do this for you. Have faith you will put good out there and it will matter to someone. Maybe re-examine the premise that mattering to one is not more important than mattering to many. Maybe the eye contact and smile you make with the checkout person at Target brightened an otherwise dreary day for that person. That is success.

So if you are stuck in the depressed abyss of yet, then take some time to reflect on things objectively and re-examine your premises. Do they still serve you? How do you want to be different?

When we look at the past we tend to put a golden light on it. Back up and look at the whole picture. What parts do you miss about what you did? How can you find that now in a way that fits in with your current reality? Do you have old premises holding you back that aren't true of you today or no longer serve you? Adopt your new premise and let go of the past one.

Maybe try this on and see how it feels. When people ask you what you do, feel free to include more than I'm a stay at home mom if you want. You are a writer, a painter, an artist, a consultant, you help animals who are looking for forever homes, you campaign against hunger or illiteracy and you raise great human beings. Try on some new roles, and change your premises to suit your needs now.


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