Why I REALLY Became a Work at Home Mom
A couple weeks ago, our entire family came down with the stomach flu. It was quick, but it was brutal while it visited. It also happened to come during spring break. The morning I was hit, I sat in bed crying, wondering how I was going to make it all day with 2 energetic, bored kids. When my husband offered to stay home from work, I immediately said no. I should be able to handle this. But after a few more offers, I caved and spent the day in bed.
I spent much of the day thinking about work. I had this entire day to myself, and I wanted to take advantage. I brainstormed blog posts, pitched new clients (even sent a video pitch from bed!) and obsessed over the numbers.
When I just couldn’t do it anymore, I still wasn’t ready to allow myself time to rest, so I decided to watch a TED talk for inspiration. Thankfully I came across Brene Brown’s research and spent the next 20 minutes having one of the biggest realizations of my adult life.
During the video (about 15 minutes in), Dr. Brown breaks down how shame is different for men and women. For men, they feel like they need to be strong all the time, can never let their guards down. And the women? Well, you probably already know this one too well. We expect ourselves to do everything perfectly. We need to be perfect wives, mothers, entrepreneurs, friends, sisters, daughters, the list goes on and on. We put insane expectations on ourselves, and when we don’t hit them, we feel deep shame about who we are as people, like we’re constantly failing.
I sat there in bed with goosebumps. This is it. This is exactly what I’ve been running from. Shame is uncomfortable. It’s a lot easier to eat or work over it, than to feel it.
I realized that the moment I decided to work from home, it was coming from shame. I felt intense shame dropping our baby off at daycare everyday. Yes, I felt sadness because I missed her, but more than that, I felt shame for not being the kind of mother I thought I should.
The thought of missing her first steps or not being there at school pick-up broke my heart, and that shame was so painful that it inspired me to take action.
But it wasn’t just about being home with my baby. No way - I had a college degree, a master’s degree - I’m supposed to be working. I need to make an income for my family, and I have often found myself attaching my happiness to the numbers each month.
Now that I’m almost 6 years into this work-at-home mom journey, I’m still catching myself running from the shame. There are those VERY rare days when we walk to school, the baby naps, I finish an entire article, we have a healthy snack, I run all the errands, and we eat dinner together as a family. But when those unicorn days don’t happen, shame does. I realized I expect myself to be this perfect stay-at-home mom who volunteers at school and helps friends and plans adventures, while simultaneously being a badass entrepreneur who grows her business exponentially during naptime. Oh, and always with blown dry hair and makeup on, plenty of time to workout and cook too.
I know this sounds ridiculous, and I know it as I type this, but I can’t deny the fact that I’ve designed my life out of this shame. I thought being a work-at-home mom would allow me to do everything perfectly. And yes, it was still the right decision for me, but oh for the wrong reasons.
So the next time you’re feeling frustrated with yourself or how the day went, take a breath and ask yourself why. What did you expect of yourself and was that even reasonable?
It’s not easy work to do, but I’ll be right there with you. You’re already more than enough. Sending love <3