The very second I saw Wesley’s precious face, I knew I wanted to stay home with him. I wanted to be there with him 24/7 so I didn’t have to miss a single leap, accomplishment, or personality trait developing.
Then I remembered: I have bills, and nobody to pay them! Uh-oh. My job that I held when I was pregnant with Wesley let me go, due to the inability to “hold my job” for 6-weeks, and Florida is a right to work state, meaning that I could, and did, get fired for “any reason.” This, I learned, was a blessing in disguise. I worked the day I went into labor, and then I stopped worrying after he was born. His sweet little face was all I needed to focus on for a while. I needed to learn how to be a mom.
Fast-forward a few weeks, and Wesley’s dad and I were running errands, when I expressed my concern for not having enough savings to get me through a long period of time without working. He offered me a solution that I had not previously thought of-
“Why don’t you just get a part-time job?”
Interesting idea, because I didn’t really hold that as a viable option. Still, I thought about it, and eventually, I started applying for part-time jobs. As a college educated woman with a pretty decent resume, I got a few calls back. I eventually ended up taking a job with a local City as a part-time event coordinator. Between my mother and a family friend who I consider to be part of my family, we made the baby-sitting schedule work. I worked 5 hour days, I pumped when I could and nursed immediately when I saw Wesley. Eventually, the part-time position turned into a full-time position, and the family friend became his full-time nanny, who is now Auntie and nanny!
So here I am, going to work every day, feeling blessed to have things falling into place, and a few months ago, I would come to work and immediately have anxiety. I felt an emptiness. I loathed leaving Wesley in the mornings. All I wanted to do was race back and hold him in my arms and be his momma. I started feeling useless, like because I was at work, I was a sub-par mother, letting someone else take care of him. I started having nightmares that he was calling someone else “Mama” because I wasn’t around during the day.
So here’s the dilemma: juggling work and home life. Not letting work take over my life, but also not beating myself up so much for making money to take care of bills so we can have a nice life, and realizing that no matter what, I AM Wesley’s Mama, and I always will be. He knows that, and so does everyone else. So I come to my point, my tiny little ways here and there to stop making myself feel like I’m not good enough, and to remind Wesley every day that his Mom loves him, and is strong for him, no matter what.
1- Deleting. I deleted certain forms of social media that were contributing to my anxiety. I found myself going down the rabbit hole and getting personally offended when I saw articles or posts that were anti-my own ideas. I took a step back and realized that I am his mother, and I will always, without a doubt, one hundred and fifty million percent, do what is BEST for my child. Everyone is going to have an opinion, but not everyone is raising your child.
2- Regrouping. Another contributing factor to my daily-freak-out-seshes was that I felt like I was doing everything on my own. Wesley’s father and I live together. I am not a single mom, but sometimes I feel like I am. I’m the one who gets his bags together when he has to go to my moms, who bathes him, feeds him, changes him, and I barely had time to take a 5-minute shower. Everything was cluttered and I felt like I was drowning. So I had to regroup. I told Wesley’s father that I need help! I NEED HELP! I’d shout it from the rooftops if I could. I ended up giving him a list of things that would be realllllly nice if he could do in the mornings, like feeding the dogs and letting them out, so that I could get the baby ready and have peace of mind that things will still be in order. Also, I set aside time during the weekends to re-organize things. Room by room. First, the baby’s room, then our closet. I found myself Marie Kondo-ing everything, and I didn’t hate it!
3- Planning for the Future, Now. Wesley is almost 11 months old. He’s not going to school yet. However, I allow myself to plan for his future, without stressing about it. My plan right now is to homeschool. I’m not positively certain that will be an option for us, but I want to make it so. That being said, I’m constantly reading books, articles, and finding ways to help me to make that decision in the future. By allowing myself to do this, I’ve actually found that there’s a large population of moms down here that homeschool, and let me tell you, “it ain’t what it used to be!” There are so many avenues to go down, so many supportive groups and even conventions to learn curriculum, and I feel better about it. Dreaming? Not as much as planning.
4- Keeping expectations realistic. I know that everything isn’t going to happen as planned. It hasn’t so far. Still, it doesn’t hurt to plan for things and try to make it work, regardless of the struggles you go through. I don’t expect to be anything other than tired when I come home, but I set aside time to sit and play with Wesley and his toys, and I continuously try to bond with him. I’m not perfect, and Wesley won’t be, either. Still, I’m going to try my darndest to keep going, and keep trying to be the best Mom i can be.
5- Not being afraid to be good at something. The more I work, the more I surprise myself. I used to work in radio, so I’m pretty smooth with recording things. We’ve been working on new events at work, and so far, I’ve recorded a podcast that many people have commended me for, and PSAs that air on the radio. I used to be so afraid to do anything that took any of my time away from thinking about motherhood and my home life. But sometimes, I realized, that I had to remember I’m good at other things, and I can be good at other things while still being a good mom.
It does seem like a juggling act, always. I feel guilty for working full time, but I’d feel guilty if I didn’t work and put the stress of all the bills on Wesley’s dad. I feel guilty for wanting some “me” time. I feel bad if I think about myself at all. It’s a juggling act, of course, but I truly believe that us mommas can juggle better than the best circus acts out there.