Last month, Christine called her husband (who was away for work) and couldn’t stop crying. Through tears, she said, “This isn’t working for me or our kids.”
The “this” she was referring to is her stay-at-home-mom life—the life she’s been living for the last eight years.
“Every bit of me wanted to be a mother, but I’ve always known staying at home wasn’t right. I kept telling myself I should be grateful for the opportunity. I also felt ashamed that I found it so hard; I’m used to being good at things I care about.”
Burnt Out Mode
To be clear: what Christine has found “so hard” is running from project to project in a burn-out fashion. “Trying to do all the things” to prove she hasn’t been “doing nothing at home” and to ensure “everything appears perfect.” For Christine, this has meant taking on extras like volunteering regularly at school, hosting events, throwing “epic parties,” and baking for anyone and everyone to prove her worth.
Curiously, it took years for Christine to connect her exhaustion to her homemaking.
“I couldn’t figure out why my legs felt like lead weights, why walking up the stairs by afternoon felt like a chore. My whole body hurt. I felt 20 years older than I was. I had all my blood work done and saw some specialist who basically said: ‘You are a mom of three. Do you want to go on meds?’” She didn’t.
She started going to yoga, hiking with like-minded women on weekend mornings, and seeing a therapist—the same therapist who, very recently, convinced Christine to give herself a break and put her youngest in daycare part-time. (“It was a *very* big deal for me to do this. But two days is 12 hours away from me, which is only 7% of our week.”)
Truly, Christine *had* to make a change. The thought of living the way she has been—with “no space” for herself—for another three years until her 2-year-old is in kindergarten, made her “skin crawl.”
And that admission, her “truth?” It comes with “major guilt,” because she doesn’t want to miss out on any part of her daughter’s life. But she doesn’t want to miss out on her own, either…
The Modern Village
“I need peace and order and space to thrive but by design, kids do all of the things that make me bonkers. I’ve been fighting a losing battle, but I crave those things so badly…”
Fortunately, around the time Christine agreed to dapple in daycare, she realized she could get help with meals, too (at least for a while). Since then, she’s had a nutritionist come in every other week to help stock her fridge and freezer.
[“Insert more guilt here for choosing to spend our money in this way and me worrying I’ll seem spoiled, but I had to stop worrying about what everyone was going to think about it. I’ve decided we have to march to the beat of our own family’s drum.”]
Here’s the hope: that a little outsourcing will allow Christine to hear herself think and then, do the things that can only be done when the kids aren’t around. Like writing (because she recently discovered a “passion” for it) and planning her future.
She wants to figure out what she’s going to do—what her purpose is going to look like—in the next phase of life when all the kids are in school.
Back in the day, Christine was the Director of Operations for a high-end women’s outerwear company. And after she had her first child, she went to pastry school and ran her own baking business for a while.
Now, at nearly 40, she’s not really sure what she’ll do. She might end up putting her newfound love of writing to use (by blogging) or studying psychology. Or not.
She’s going to continue to search for something that will fill her up *and* fit around her family. So far, part of her search has involved talking to other women—and in particular, women who have managed to successfully merge their passions with their careers—and asking them as many questions as she can think of.
Thankfully, right now, she *is* sure of two things: that, eventually, she’ll show her kids what a healthy and happy mom looks like. And that this year, for the first time in over a decade, she’s *not* going to throw an elaborate Christmas party for 50 people.
Life is looking up.
This was a two part feature that was originally posted to “The Women We Know” Instagram account on Dec 7, 2019.