A Kinda Sorta End of an Era
At 20 weeks, I knew something was unusual. I knew something wasn’t “right” or “normal.” What I thought were just a few abnormalities somehow turned into one of the most stressful and emotionally strenuous periods of my life. I questioned myself over and over and over again. I questioned my abilities, my purpose, and my worth. More importantly, I questioned whether or not I was strong enough to go down the path of motherhood. I am not talking about just motherhood as the parent of a medically complex child. I mean motherhood at its roots.
As it turns out, I was and I am.
I would be lying if I said there wasn’t fear mixed in with my other emotions. I can’t tell you it is smooth sailing and I definitely can’t tell you that tomorrow is a better day when it comes to this. Sometimes tomorrow is just another day and guess what? That is okay too.
I once read somewhere on social media that we expect women to raise a family as if they don’t work and work as if they are not raising a family. There has to be that perfect work/life balance somewhere, right? For those of you who have found it, I applaud you. Seriously, that is no easy feat. Someday soon, I hope to be in your shoes where I find that perfect balance between the two. The feeling of excelling at work while being the most endearing and loving mom must bring you great pride. Keep at it!
But this isn’t that kind of article. I haven’t had a job in almost three years. I haven’t earned a paycheck in almost three years. That part of my life was put on hold in September 2018. That is where this “era” begins. I became a mother. Before my 20 week scan, it was my full intention to take the first 3-6 months off of work to be at home with my child. After my 20 week scan, it became a year off. After Mark was born, that “one year off” turned to a few weeks shy of 3 years. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the last (almost) 3 years, and that “era” is coming to an end.
Mark had his first day of school this week* and I have my own first day of Graduate School next week*. To add just a dash more of change, I start my part-time job the week after I start my Graduate School journey. I will no longer be a full-time Stay at home mom. That chapter of my life is closing (for now). To close this chapter and turn another page feels as if I am starting at the beginning again. At times, it feels like a railroad spike through the heart (Okay.. that may sound a little dramatic, but this is my story, my emotions, and my heart condition we are talking about here.).
I know people who dream to stay at home and be a mom all day. Full disclosure, it’s mine. That is my ultimate end all be all dream. I have lived my dream. Was it hard? Absolutely. There were days I went without sleeping, or days I didn’t shower (sorry). My hair looked like Danny Zuko took a can of product to it when it wasn’t falling out. I remember a few times I strolled into an appointment or two (or 40 or 50) with spit up on my shirt or worse… in my hair. I felt the aches and pains. I fought mental health battles, one right after the other. I felt incredible heartbreak with each setback and questioned my purpose. I grieved the loss of the girl I was. I gained the weight and lost my mind. I lost my patience but I found grace and in that, I like to think I found myself. Was it worth it? All of it? Totally and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
It is hard to write this. I think being a stay-at-home mom you are juggling all that people call your “new normal”. You are the mom, the maid, the chef, the butler, the courier, and the errand-runner. Some may be the one who handles the finances and accounts. I, on the other hand, cannot be given a $20 bill and expected to put it into a savings account. It’ll likely be spent within 30 minutes of receiving it. Instead, I run the household. I am the secretary. I am the appointment keeper, insurance battler, and my therapist’s favorite client (although I am not sure that is always a good thing). I sacrificed all I knew. I threw away my senses and trusted my instincts. You might think I am crazy and I just might agree with you.
I was also Mark’s best friend, his greatest protector, and his biggest advocate. I was designated baby snuggler and bottle maker, giver, and feeder. I was the warm hug bringer and nightmare fighter. There were times I was his physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, teacher, and nurse. My day began and ended with him (and it may have “ended a few more times after that- depending on if and when he woke up during the night). I was given the best job I have ever had in my entire life. I got to be his mom. I am Mark’s mom. It is a job I don’t take lightly. For as long as I am living I won’t take a single moment of it for granted. Being a mom is a form of love you never truly understand until you see your heart beating outside of your body. Being a stay-at-home mom is a labor of love that I was blessed with the opportunity to experience and understand.
Now, whatever your new normal is or how it may look, it may not be the same as mine and I am grateful for that. We can absolutely sit back with some coffee and talk about what normal looks like to us, but something tells me it’ll be similar to us discussing perfection. My point is, normalcy, like perfection is different for everyone with no one true definition.
What is the same for all of us- men, women, non-binary, gender-neutral- is that we are human and we all have eras in our own lives. Chapters are closing and blank pages begin to fill with stories yet written.
So here I am in the final days of this chapter. I am finishing it by playing the highlight (and lowlight) reels in my head on repeat. Mark is starting to need me less and it is so hard to let go a little more each time.
But what is growth without some form of loss?
*School has started for both of us by the time this article is published.