I’ve had a busy past few months.
We’ve moved to a new house, we’ve had visitors almost constantly since January and my husband has started to travel a lot for work. And through all this are my three kids. Amazing and resilient but also all toddlers (3, 1, 1) who are, well, exhausting and a constant force to be reckoned with.
These things are all positive, but I’ve noticed a change in me lately.
I found myself feeling lost in the past few months. I’ve been exhausted most of the time and stressed out the rest. I feel I can’t handle the everyday needs of not only my kids but the general household as well – not to mention all the “extras” I work on to keep some resemblance of a career going.
It’s all become a bit too much. Sick family members, financial worries, fighting with the hubby, teething toddlers and the never-ending need for more time in each day means that I feel I just can’t win at this stage.
I’m not looking for sympathy. I know many mums out there are having to deal with A LOT more stuff than me and I also realise how deeply fortunate I am.
I’m not looking to whine about it as that cheapens motherhood and the colossal job being a mum is.
But I have turned a corner and had to say, “just let it go.”
Letting go of high expectations, self-loathing, distractions, guilt, worrying…I just have to walk away.
Let me explain some of these feelings.
I have high expectations of myself when it comes to career ambitions – I always have. My mother always told me to NEVER be financially dependant on a man. Before I had kids I always thought my mum was trying to instil an attitude of independence and power. I agreed whole-heartedly with her sentiments. Until I had kids of my own.
Motherhood hasn’t changed my desire to work, but it has made me realise that staying home to take care of my children is, for the next couple years, my fulltime career. And although for now, I may be financially dependant on my hubby, he -in turn- is equally dependant on me to help achieve our goal of having a family. It’s a team effort and I’m playing my part.
Now there are many working mums out there and believe me, I’ve explored the options thoroughly. But I have to step back and remind myself that there are realities that we as a family have, that other families don’t.
We have no parents or siblings living close by, for example, who can chip in on taking care of our 3 kids. So for me to go back to work, we need to either get a nanny or put them all in fulltime day care which I know will eat up my entire potential salary (and then some). So while I have been hugely stressing about keeping my resume/CV current and my toes in the workforce, I have to let it go – for now.
I need to TRUST that my previous experience, along with a network of amazing friends/former colleagues as well as my entrepreneurial spirit will land me on my feet again when the time is right. Some mums can and do make it work – they have it all and juggle career/young kids etc. like total pros, but that’s not my situation so I need to step back and focus on the job that my kids need me to do: be their mum.
Which leads me to another point…distractions.
I tend to allow a lot of them in my life. Whether it’s in the form of saying yes to a bit of work/project to appease my ego or to feel as though I’m chipping in financially; or even saying yes to certain social outings. I need to let them go and start saying no. If it’s something I don’t really want to do or feel I’m saying yes simply to make someone else happy, then I now have to say no.
It’s harder to put this into practice than I realised. As a serial people-pleaser, I’ve had to put myself in the uncomfortable position of disappointing people. I hate that feeling more than anything. However, I’ve already started this process of saying no and it’s amazing how much more focused I feel. It’s not “no” forever…just no for right now.
Self-loathing, well this is a biggie. It’s mostly surrounding my looks these days.
I hate admitting this.
It sounds vain and selfish. I don’t like the way I look. I feel a combination of pregnancy and age have changed (and not in a good way) everything from my body shape to my hair texture and my skin tone. I don’t look anything like I did even 6 or 7 years ago. It’s actually really shocked me, and I’ve felt I’ve had to reacquaint myself with the new me over the past year. I avoid mirrors, and I rarely allow my photo to be taken wider than a simple face shot….and even then, I cringe.
But this too shall pass. I will eventually have the time to spend on me again. I’ll have time to go out and get a haircut or update my make-up collection. Manicured hands and feet will be the norm again and my sorry excuse for a wardrobe will be new and current. It’s just not a priority at this moment. It’s a very hard reality to come to terms with but at the same time it’s a very simple choice. My hair or make up being done means nothing to my kids, but me being available and interacting with them means the world – so that’s my priority.
I’m not giving up my identity and I still have fitness and overall health as a priority however, looking “instagramable” at any given moment will be set aside. I’ll focus on strength, health and happiness and leave vanity out of my life.
Guilt and worrying are my constant companions. To be fair, that’s not new since I became a mother. Motherhood has just highlighted the depth of this particular “partnership”.
I worry constantly – about everything. I find it extremely hard to just chill. Once one worry is squashed, another comes almost instantly in its place. Taking a breath and trusting that things will eventually work out the way they should is a daily affirmation exercise I’ve had to take on.
I’ve realised that letting go is about trusting yourself and having the confidence to know that this is a chapter in your life but not the whole book. It may seem hard to have that trust in the future – especially when you’re utterly exhausted and are walking around in two-day old clothes that are covered in snot and drool.
But I am where I am, and this is my ‘right now’. So to my worries, my anger, my self-hatred and out-of-date expectations of myself, I’m going to have to let you go. I’m moving in a new direction, I’m downsizing. It’s not me, it’s you…