The Hardest Part of Transitioning to SAHMing

Sunday afternoon I had the opportunity to make some new mom friends through the boys’ MDO. I was beyond nervous, man–I sat in the car in front of the nail salon and messaged Jared, “What if they don’t like me? What if I make things awkward? What if they’re too polite to tell me they don’t like me, but I don’t pick up on that?”

As you can tell, I make new friends quite easily, and all the time. I’m a regular social butterfly.

…Not. (Hey, everything else from the 90s is coming back; “not” jokes might be cool again soon!)

So. I told my social anxiety to get stuffed, took a deep breath, and walked into the nail salon for a long-overdue pedicure. And I had fun! Plus my toes are a pretty cherry red now.

After the pedicure, we went to a restaurant to eat and continue getting to know each other. I mentioned my chemistry background after a question about my caffeine molecule necklace and one of the ladies asked, “What was the hardest part of transitioning from working to staying home?”

I’m not sure I had ever verbalized this to anyone outside of Jared, but the hardest part was believing that I was capable of being a full-time parent.

While I was in graduate school, C was in daycare. When I graduated and started earnestly looking for a job–applying became my job, in a sense–we kept him in daycare. I left him there full-time, reasoning that surely I’d find something fairly soon and the less changes to his schedule, the better.

Then I couldn’t even get an interview. I was overeducated, or didn’t have enough experience, or something. I was also pregnant and, not wanting to feel like I misled an employer, mentioned it and that I had continued my chemical research and worked up until labor with C. That probably didn’t work in my favor, either.

I was depressed, and feeling even more depressed and anxious as I continued sending resumes and job applications into countless black voids. I contacted my alumni association and my professional organization for help with my resume and still no improvement.

After breaking down over not getting a summer science camp position I hadn’t really even wanted, we decided I would stop looking for a job and wait until K was a few months old to resume the search.

I kept C in daycare.

Full time.

Even though I was home.

Why? Because–and this hurts to admit–I truly did not trust my own parenting abilities. My depression whispered things like, “Those daycare teachers? They’re better than you. He actually naps there. He doesn’t throw tantrums there. They. Are. Better. Than. You.”

And I believed it.

We moved and I put C in daycare again. K was born and I kept C in daycare. The job search petered out again and I began to wonder whether I could handle having both of my boys at home with me.

By this time, I was becoming mentally healthier. Not by a lot, but enough to realize that I’m not as crappy of a mother as my depression told me I was, that I wasn’t as terrible as my anxiety claimed. We gave his daycare a two-week notice and then kept C home with K and me.

It was tough, at first. It was tough because it was something I had never done before. Juggling a rambunctious toddler with a nursing baby who loves his naps is hard. It probably doesn’t matter how much confidence you have–it’s going to be tough.

Over time, as I started meds and journaling and getting mentally healthier, I began to realize that a lot of the anxiety I had about being a stay-at-home mom was wrapped up in this idea of HAVING to be THE PERFECT MOTHER.

I don’t have to be perfect. I just need to do my best. Sometimes, my best isn’t going to be as good as I wanted, but you know what? That’s okay! I am human and I have off days, bad days, grumpy days. It happens. I need to be kind to myself and recognize that I just need to be me.

That’s who my kids want. They want me. They don’t want Perfect Mom. They want me. It took an embarrassingly long time for me to really get that and understand it.

My answer was a shortened version of all that above. As I talked, they nodded in understanding.

I am not alone. I’m not the only mother who second-guesses a lot of decisions, who regrets losing her temper and hopes the kids aren’t scarred for life, who wonders often how good or bad of a job I’m doing.

The fact that we care tells me we are doing something right. That’s what we need to keep in mind.

I will keep doing my best, because that’s all I can do.

And that’s what my boys want.

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…And Then What?

Christmas crafting: done.

Several birthday presents: done.

Christmas ornaments, for myself and others: also done.

Next: uh…

I don’t know.

I don’t know what’s next. I do know that I feel like I should be making something nightly. I started work on a potential blanket and my interest is flagging. I have so much yarn and so many fabric scraps and no current project that is gripping my interests.

Maybe it’s time to make something for myself…

Time to peruse Pinterest!

Four!

C is four today!

He is so smart. He amazed me yesterday by READING three pages from a beginning reader before telling me he was finished and I could take over.

He is so loving. He and K are both in a loving stage where they will randomly give us hugs and tell us they love us. It is heart-meltingly cute.

He is strong-willed. He pushes boundaries and argues consequences and expects a valid reason for everything besides “because I told you to, so go do it!”

He is inquisitive. He asks questions all day long.

All. Day. Long.

He is a joy. An exhausting, strength-testing joy, but a joy nonetheless. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy birthday, C. Mommy loves you more than you know! ❤️

1000 Books Before Kindergarten, Round 2

We did it–again!

K finished his first round and C his second round of the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Hooray! We read so many wonderful books, like Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, and learned so many new things.

Each boy received a prize pack of a tote bag filled with school supplies, including markers and crayons and colored pencils that’ll come in VERY handy when we start our art lessons next year! They were both very excited when we left with even more books in my own library bag.

We began this round August 29. Yeah. We like to read. There are some mornings where we sit down and read 10-14 books in one sitting before I say it’s time for a break and make them go play so I can rest my voice a bit.

I don’t know if we’ll do a second round with K. At this point, what does it do for us? Prove we read a lot? Inundate us with more school supplies? I don’t know that there’s much benefit.

Still, we’ll keep reading like crazy. Because reading is fun. 🤓

Handmade Christmas Status

Status: COMPLETE!

The entire top shelf in my closet is populated with presents. The three bags on the right contain storebought gifts. Everything else is chock-full of handmade stuff.

I AM FINISHED! I am thrilled, and weary, and kind of surprised that I don’t want to chuck my sewing machine and crochet hooks out the window. In fact, I have a couple of birthday presents for early 2019 completed already.

Yeah. I like to plan.

20+ trips to Joann, many hours of searching for just the right fabrics, around eight spools of thread, four skeins of yarn, and five broken sewing needles. Countless pokes with the straight pins and mild burns from the iron. Several times that my eyes crossed from carefully ripping out loads of teeny, tiny stitches.

So far, it was worth it.

I have delivered Secret Santa gifts and those were well received. I’ve made a few baby things for friends and they were proclaimed adorable.

This is why I make stuff.

Not for the praise, but because giving something I made specifically for someone and seeing them be happy with it is gratifying in a way that is hard to put into words.

I don’t know if I’m making any sense, but I do know that my to-do list is done… and it’s not yet Thanksgiving!

Friends: check.

My family: check.

In-laws: check.

Cousins: check.

Niblings: check.

MDO teachers and administrators, even: check.

Yeah, I’m not kidding when I say I AM DONE!

Now all that’s left to do is wrap the 10% of gifts that aren’t yet wrapped, and deliver!

Then… hmm. Then, I guess I could work on something for myself.

Maybe.

But then again, my sister-in-law’s birthday is coming up… 😉

Precision of Language

C came home with this turkey today. The instructions are pretty simple: color by number.

His teacher told the class what to do, gave them crayons, and let them have at it. And C, my silly, literal child, colored ONLY the numbers.

I love that boy 😂😂😂

Jared and I used to joke about the precision of language after we both read The Giver by Lois Lowry. In the book, precision is so prized that a child saying “I’m starving” while waiting for his lunch is taken aside and told that no, he’s hungry. He is not and has never been starving.

Joke’s on us. C is quite the literal child, so precision of language is pretty darn important around here.

Telling him to pick up the pace resulted in him looking around at the floor and asking, “But where is the pace?”

Telling him to pick up his toys has resulted in the toys being moved onto the couches. They were off the floor, he reasoned. I gave him a look. “You didn’t say to put them away! Daddy said to put them on the couch for vacuuming, and I thought that was what you were doing!” he insisted.

May I remind you, he is three. THREE. I’m going to pop a gasket when he is older and becomes intentionally sarcastic. Hooooo boy.

As he’s learned what different sayings really mean and the difference between speaking factually and using hyperbole, there has been less confusion when I groan about their shrieking threatening to burst my eardrums and moaning about my head exploding when I’m frustrated. He has asked me before if I would need a new head.

A new. Head. Because mine was exploding. Also, would it be loud? Because he wants to cover his ears.

This boy.

I’m going to miss his unintentional humor!

Close to Graduation!

I’m almost “done” with CBT!

I have had three panic attacks while in therapy. I successfully shortened all three. I’ve headed off several more and calmed my anxiety more effectively since having the tools CBT has given me.

My therapist and I discussed the end of my weekly sessions. I am confident that I’ll be able to continue improving my new skills without weekly sessions. I’m hopeful that going down to as-needed versus every other week will be good for me. As much as I have gained from these sessions, I admit I am looking forward to reclaiming the time spent commuting and in therapy.

So! Assuming I continue to do well, I have two sessions of CBT left before “graduating” to an as-needed basis. Hooray! I’m quite proud of myself!