In my recent post, My road to mental health I spoke candidly about my need to feel like I have a project or something to do with my time. I also spoke about how I struggle with measuring the success of my day by how much I have achieved or the many ticks on my to do lists. And I’ve been thinking a lot more about this lately and I think I have made a pretty profound realisation. I’m hoping I’m not alone and that I can help other moms make sense of these feelings too!
You see, I’ve noticed a pattern that really started developing when I became a mom. That very moment in time where I was pulled into a world completely different to the one I had previously known. A world of sleepless nights, mammoth colic crying sessions, feeding on demand and generally not knowing my ass from my elbow. In those early days I would be found by my husband on his return from work in the same oversized t-shirt I had been in when he had left, often attached to a breast pump. I would be surrounded by half drunk cups of coffee, wet laundry that had to be abandoned before it made its way onto an overcrowded washing line and with no sign of any dinner in the oven. (Regularly, my husband would come home and get excited to see a pot on the stove only to discover it was watered down pumpkin and sweet potato for the baby. Sometimes he was so hungry he would eat it. Oh the guilt.)
And then came the months of teething and mornings spent making every organic vegetable pure known to man only for my baby to turn his nose up at every spoonful. The sleep training, the first tooth, the first steps, the first birthday. The all consuming routines of raising small babies.
Soon after that we had another baby and I, like a soldier was forced to return to those trenches. Thankfully with a better eater and sleeper and a better understanding of myself. But so often in those early day of caring for my babies I can remember feeling like such a failure because I didn’t have anything to physically show for my day. My husband who was working a job he was really passionate about at the time would come home telling me stories of new products they were launching or a new shoe he had helped design. He would show me pictures of his product in stores or a cool famous person wearing his brand. And I would sit there in a slump on the couch and just look around me.
The house was a mess no matter how many times I had bent down to scoop up toys that day, the laundry basket was still overflowing despite the three loads of washing I had put on and my kitchen may as well have been a food factory with vegetable peels covering every surface and pumpkin splattered all over the walls.
From then on I’ve always felt I needed to do more to show I have been productive with my day, going overboard to make sure I had something to show for my time. But I’m starting to see how silly this is for us to do this as moms. We forget how MUCH we are doing and we only have to look as far as our kids to see just how much we have achieved. I’m not saying it wrong to want to show more for our time and feel proud when we do accomplish things from outside our mothering roles, I’m saying that there will always be a season (for some it’s long for others it’s short) where our kids will be our main focus and we may not have much else to show for our days. But the truth is, we have so much to be proud of, so many small little things that happen throughout their lives, that we are responsible for. So many small little moments that eventually make up one big triumph.
Whether it’s getting your toddler to sleep in his own bed or getting your baby to sleep through the night, these are victories that need to be celebrated. Whether it’s being consistent with discipline and seeing a change in your child’s behaviour or teaching your children kindness, these are things we should be immensely proud of. Whether it’s weaning them off the bottle or teaching them to dress themselves or potty training them, these are some of the huge accomplishments that need to recognised right?
There are so many things that get overlooked. Even though we may not have huge corporate jobs or oversee large teams on a big projects, we are administrators of our own homes and families and are running a pretty significant empire called the Future Generation! We are investing so much of ourselves into our children, especially in the early years when we don’t always see the rewards overnight.
Often it’s only when we look back and reflect that see how far our kids have come and we realise we couldn’t have spent our days doing anything more worthwhile. Because without us, our kids wouldn’t be who they are and for that we can all agree, there is no greater, more significant job in the world.