I’m nearly six months removed from the last time I walked into an office as a 9-5, full-time working parent.
I started this journey full of fear. I was afraid to leave my career behind. I was afraid I would hate staying home with my son, and I was afraid about what that would say about me as a mother. Most of all, I was afraid I would really, truly suck at it. I was afraid I would screw it up in a hundred different ways and everyone would watch it happen.
Here’s the thing: Staying home with a child? Is like any other job.
I don’t mean that in a “staying home full-time is serious work, guys!” sort of way. I mean that you have bad days. Days where you wake up cranky and just do. not. feel. like doing it all over again. Days where it seems like everything is one notch harder than it should be. Days where you want to bash your head into a wall.
You have great days. The kind of days where you are at your most creative or your most efficient or your most patient. Days where you look around and think, “Yes, this is what life is all about.”
And the vast majority of days fall somewhere in between. You are competent if not flawless. Sufficient if not exceptional. You get the job done and you don’t start any fires in the process.
I read this blog post this morning about how we judge each other as mothers – or more importantly, how we judge ourselves in comparison to each other. We spend a lot of time thinking and talking about this, don’t we? How we measure up.
That’s not just a parent thing. That’s a human thing.
We all want to excel. To embody the perfect mix of beauty, intelligence, strength, patience, spontaneity, charisma. We want to be respected employees, good friends, happy wives and great mothers. We want to cook delicious (and of course, healthy) dinners and host amazing parties. We want to love what we do for a living and we want to shine at it.
Above all else, we want the perfect balance. That sweet spot where love, family, friendship and career thrive.
The truth is that sometimes we shine and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes life is balanced and sometimes it’s all out of whack. Sometimes it feels like everyone else is doing it better, more thoroughly, more kindly, more beautifully.
You know what? I am screwing this up in a hundred different ways. But I’m not afraid anymore. Because for every single moment that I screw up, I also have a moment where I shine.
At the end of the day, at the end of this stay-at-home mom gig, at the end of my life, I can only hope that all those moments balance out. I hope I can look back and say I did my best. That maybe I had days where I yelled too much or got frustrated too easily but I loved the hell out of my family and I tried to make their lives easier, brighter, more fulfilling.
I hope I can measure myself against my own intentions and nothing else.