I’m one of those all-natural, Montessori, put-your-hand-in-the-metaphorical-fire to learn your lesson kind of moms. When my son was born, I became determined to be a part of every milestone. Actually, let me be honest, I have an insatiable desire to be different from everyone else and my ultimate goal was to be different from every other mother I knew.
For the first six months of his life, I worked part-time while leaving my Firebird with family members. When part-time paychecks no longer sufficed, I convinced myself that I would be able to avoid the inevitable guilt of leaving my son with strangers and opted for a full-time work-from-home job. I didn’t want him to be soothed with anyone else’s voice or be comforted by the touch of anyone other than myself. After all, I carried him for 39 weeks within my womb and I wanted that closeness to last.
Then, that closeness became clinginess and I started to feel a bit claustrophobic. Between calls, chats, and emails, I struggled to do laundry, wash dishes, feed the baby, clean up the mess (did I pee today?), put the baby to sleep, clean up the same mess from earlier, sneak in a snack, etcetera, etcetera…
It was insanity: the same day on repeat over and over and yet I expected different results. I expected to fit in time to actually play with my child or have energy after work to be present. I expected my infant to sit quietly and play with soft toys, nurse, and sleep like an angel. I allowed myself to become discouraged when he would cry or squeal. (Oh the horror! My baby actually makes noise like every other baby!)
I felt inadequate as a mother, as I’m sure many stay-at-home moms feel. I was depriving him of social interaction and replacing it instead with educational videos on repeat. I allowed myself to become frustrated with him for being a baby. I was ruining my experience with motherhood and so afraid that I was molding him into an unstable adult.
There is hope after the storm of guilt; it’s normally appears when you stop worrying and start living. There will always be bills to be paid. And work will almost always be exhausting (because ‘Murica). But, if you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, you become aware of the reality you are painting for your child.
My son is now a spirited and secure two-year-old who is both self-sufficient and social. I started making time in my schedule for play dates, whether it was just me and my Firebird or meeting up with someone else. I even began volunteering my time to babysit for others; surprisingly, watching two infants actually isn’t that hard because they entertain each other.
Oh, and you have to be patient. Of course, my child throws tantrums like every other toddler. But that is because he’s used to having me nearby constantly (he’s gone maybe 72 hours max without seeing me). With patience, positive reinforcement and learning to smile through the blood-curdling screams (still a skill that I have yet to master), the force is strong within me to one day be a Zen Mama!
I love being home with him everyday. I love that I was able to witness his first steps and hear his first words. And, if you work outside of the home, there is no reason to feel guilty. We work-at-home moms are a different kind of crazy (in the best of ways, of course!). Parenting is a learning experience for both the mother and the child. I am learning that being a work-at-home mom is not for the faint of heart.
By Jasmine Hernandez via EIC Regina Burris