I used to have so much guilt about leaving my boys with somebody else so that I could go to work…
No matter how much I loved my work, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be with my boys… that being Mom meant I was “supposed” to be with them all the time.
It would eat away at me, poisoning my days at work, making it more and more difficult for me to focus and accomplish the tasks I needed to do.
And then of course, when I got home, I would be frustrated about how little work I had gotten done that day… so that when I was with my boys, they weren’t getting the best of me.
They weren’t getting a mommy who was fully present, giving them the focused attention that they needed and deserved.
All in all, it was a pretty shitty situation for everyone.
Thank the gods I finally got my shit straight and let go of the guilt.
The biggest difference was realizing that I am just not wired to be with my boys all the time. I’m not made to be a stay-at-home mom.
And that’s okay.
The truth is, when I leave my boys with their Nana they are getting the absolute best care they could possibly get.
She loves them. They love her.
When they’re with her, they get to explore her awesome property, they get to play in the dirt, and do art, and learn in ways that are natural and easy and fun for them. (Seriously, she’s a trained Elementary School teacher, they could not possibly be any better cared for.)
Mommy, on the other hand, gets very frustrated when she isn’t able to get anything done because she has two beautiful boys climbing all over her and demanding her attention every moment of the entire day.
Mommy loves them. They love mommy.
But we are all much much better off when Mommy gets the chance to go to work, accomplish things that are meaningful to her, mark things off her to-do list, and then come home and give her boys the full loving attention that she is best capable of when she feels like she’s actually gotten something done that day.
The truth is, as much as I thought I was going to be the super-amazing, always-attentive, present-as-much-as-humanly-possible Mommy… That mommy is not me.
And when I try to be that Mommy, not only do I fail horribly, I also stop myself from being the awesomely amazing Mommy that I am.
The Mommy who plays silly games, and pretends not to know where my boy is when he’s “hiding” behind me making scary ghost noises… the Mommy who carves jack-o-lanterns, and kisses boo boos, and sits down with her boy when he misbehaves, so we can figure out what went wrong and how to do it better next time.
When I take the time to take care of my own needs – including the need to do meaningful work outside the home – I give myself and my boys the gift of a mommy who has the energy to be loving, patient, and fully present when I am with them.
Being your best mommy-self starts with being true to who you are.
It starts with making sure that your needs are being met, so that you have the full reserves necessary to meet the needs of your children.
Not just in the sense of “self-care” – making sure you’re eating well, getting rest and exercise and time to yourself.
It is as important – if not more – in the sense of where you put your time and attention.
I hear so much about the guilt that women struggle with these days, feeling torn between caring for their family and caring for their own need to be working, to be accomplishing something… besides raising children, which is important, of course. But it’s not the ONLY thing.
Not for everyone.
I’m here to say ENOUGH.
No more guilt.
No more shame.
No more questioning if you’re making the “right” choice.
Some people are wired to be stay-at-home parents, and that’s awesome.
But if you aren’t? Honor that truth.
Because you won’t be doing anyone any favors by trying to suppress your own needs and desires. Sacrificing your dreams for the sake of your children DOES NOT DO THEM GOOD.
It teaches them that dreams don’t matter.
It teaches them YOU don’t matter.
And I guarantee you, if you’re sacrificing a part of yourself “for the sake of your children,” you’re denying them a precious part of who you are.
Besides, when you let other people help you with raising your children, you give them another gift – you give them the Village.
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
It’s an old saying, and one we don’t live by much any more. Not in these fast-paced times where nobody seems to have time to connect.
I used to think it meant that it takes a lot of people to raise a child – ’cause you know, kids are a TON of work!
As I’ve gotten older (and, hopefully, wiser) I’ve come to realize the true value of the village; there’s only so much that my children can learn from me. When I share the act of caring for them with other people, they get to learn from other people as well.
When my oldest was going to daycare, he got to play with a bunch of kids – which meant learning how to interact with a large social group.
I don’t have access to 20+ toddlers myself… and let’s be honest, even if I did, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be responsible for them…
When my boys go to their Nana’s house, they get to help her garden, and explore the woods around her house. She shows them animal scat and they investigate what type of animal it came from and what those animals eat.
You can bet your ass I’m not taking my boys to look at animal poop. Personally, I think it’s a little gross… but I appreciate that she’s introducing them to sights, and sounds, and experiences that I never would.
I know there are benefits for children who have a full-time, stay-at-home parent… if that parent loves being with their children 24/7.
As someone who needs time away from my children (not to mention people in general, I am an introvert after all) I’ve come to embrace the benefits of letting my children learn from others as well as myself.
Ironically, I’ve had SO MANY people tell me how impressed they are with the love and patience I show my children.
What’s my secret?
I make sure I get time to work on the other things that are important to me.
I make sure I get time to myself.
I make sure that my needs are met, so that I’m able to treat my children with love and patience.
Because holy hell, kids take a LOT of patience! (And they deserve every ounce of it.)
PS. I’ve been speaking with parents who struggle with juggling building a business, raising kids, wanting to make the world a better place… and maybe, somewhere in there, finding time to take care of themselves as well.
We’ve been talking about things like being overwhelmed, not having enough time, having too much to do… and I’ve been blown away by these amazing parents with beautiful dreams, whose work is so very needed in the world.
Which is why I’m opening the doors for M4 – a Mastermind for World-Changing Entrepreneurial Parents. The world needs your work, and you deserve support.
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