On Accepting The Fear

Things have been blissfully ordinary. I don’t really know how it’s possible but I continue to feel more comfortable with my role as stay at home mom. Just when I think I’ve got it down and I’m pleased with how things are going I turn a corner and add another puzzle piece which completes a section I didn’t know existed.

When my daughter was born I remember slowly tackling house projects that had been neglected. I checked off so many items on my unending to do list that year: wedding photo album, selling old dresses, organizing the pantry, paring down work materials, and setting up a bookshelf for all my trusty tattered covers. It felt so satisfying, like we were actually caring for all our possessions and the house we lived in.

After getting my project list under control I focused on the social aspects of being a stay at home mom. I had met a few moms, luckily very sweet ones with whom I became close but my daughter was now a year and I was pregnant again. We needed some organized activities to attend, lest we go crazy staying in the house all day. I started to understand why moms pack their day with activities. So, we joined an exercise group and started going to playgroups. My daughter started learning skills like sharing and turn-taking and I learned the importance of a bond with another mother. We shared our triumphs, struggles, and highly anticipated milestones of this child developing before our eyes.

When my son was born, well, it was all I could do but to take each day as they came. Everyone had said two under two was hard. I treaded water but didn’t make much forward progress. It’s getting better now.

Each day, week, and month that passes I feel more comfortable with my “Mom” title but there is always reservation. It weighs heavy on me that I went to school for six years to get a degree that I am not using. Despite the fact that staying home is my first choice and my husband fully supports this, I feel guilty for not providing financially in some way to our household. Bottom line is that I love being at home with my children and the cost of these memories outweighs the loss of income.

The truth is that I am also very afraid. I am afraid of being so involved in the world of jam hands and motor mouths that I will become out of touch. I dread being that mom who doesn’t know the day of the week, the date, or the last time she showered. The mom who catches her daughter’s spit up in her hands at the dinner table and wipes it on her napkin without hesitation. The mom that carelessly comments about the anguish of her day while people out there are doing real work.

I know, raising kids is real work. But I couldn’t, and can’t, place it in the same category as a job which brings home the bacon. And thus, there will always be a part of me that feels a bit inadequate as a stay at home mom. I wish I could erase this negative label from my mind but when I try it’s like trying to separate double-sided tape. It’s just so sticky eventually you can’t make out one side from the other. A career that earns money is not equivalent to story time and time-outs.

This fear of becoming out of touch grinds on me but I’ve been able to keep it at bay recently. I’m not just at the crossroads of career versus kids, I’ve already passed it. My decision is made and if I want to enjoy this ride I need to embrace it. Is it so bad if I lose track of the date or wander the grocery isles at 10 am on a Tuesday? I’ve decided no on this one. So I would like to raise a glass and say cheers to interrupted sleep, tears over skinned knees, and hugs that make you go weak. Toothless smiles, first words, and enough love to overflow my cup. God bless you, my children, my life.

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8 thoughts on “On Accepting The Fear

  1. Jam hands and motor mouths! Such vivid details and relatable topic to all moms: stay-at-home, or not. You are a BEAUTIFUL mother, and I feel blessed to be one of the lucky to share the trials and smiles with you. Love, Naomi.

    PS. My eyes brimmed with almost-tears as I read this. You are an amazing writer!

  2. Ashley, that is beautiful, truly. Also, if it is any consolation, my Dominican-friarly vocation causes me too to be blissfully and happily out of touch with the fads, trends, and workaday world all around us. Reminds me of Chesterton, who has said that (traditionally, at least), the man must become “some one thing” in the world–specific calling–so that the mother “can be the world to her children.” And being “the world to children” is–you know better than I–a truly momentous and sacred task, laborious and admirable. Love you and admire you!

  3. Stumbled upon your blog almost by accident. I am so glad that I did. This post is exactly what I’m going through right now. Trying to figure out this crazy ride of motherhood. It’s the toughest job ever. I know I’m not alone in how I feel. After reading this post though, things are a little more clear now.

    • Oh, I’m so glad. And you are absolutely not alone. Once I started spending more time with other mothers I realized that many of us have a similar story. Glad I could be of comfort.

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