Today I had to fill out a form at my new doctor’s office. One of the fields called for “occupation”, and I was tempted to write “supermom” as a joke. Then I got a little nervous… what do I write now? Photographer? Stay at home mom? Retired? (HA!)
Nervously, I wrote “Photographer”, as I legitimately own and operate a business. Yeah, that’s got to be right.
This transition from the corporate world to Stay-At-Home Mom/Full Time Photographer has been much more challenging than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it is the best decision and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but that doesn’t make it EASY.
I am in a constant loop of oxymoron.
You aren’t doing enough. You are doing literally everything you possibly can. It’s not enough. It’s all I can do.
Motherhood is beautiful and messy, exciting and exhausting. It’s a whirlwind of bliss and frustration, often at the same time. I usually feel like a crazy person, and also like it’s the most natural thing in the world. And most days I am just in awe of it all.
Is this my life? How did I get so lucky? I have a daughter?! I’ve dreamed of this my entire life. Wow…
8 1/2 months in, and some things are getting easier. Some more challenging.
The balancing act is the hardest part. There’s a pile of fluffs sitting on my desk that I have taken away from her before she was able to get them into her mouth… or sometimes after she’s already tried to eat them. I keep meaning to throw them away, but haven’t gotten around to it just yet. I have walked past the three laundry baskets full of clean laundry at least 45 times now, each time irritated with myself that I haven’t made time to sort, fold, and put them away yet. There are at least three stacks of things on the dining room table that need to be tended to, but instead I end up walking past them most of the time. There are probably a few dirty diapers sitting in her changing area waiting to be taken to the garbage, and I really need to vacuum. My website is currently out-dated and needs to be updated with my latest and greatest works. I’ve been meaning to re-vamp my client materials for months now, but have yet to sit down and make progress on it because first nap-time I am usually taking a shower to feel human again, and second nap-time is spent doing dishes, editing photos, or cleaning up what I can. There are always dirty dishes in my sink, clean ones in my dishwasher, and something that is stinking up my refrigerator. I need to meal plan and grocery shop, and not go over budget.
Sometimes naps are 30 minutes, and on good days I get about an hour and a half, but it all goes much too quickly regardless. Days with any sort of plans or errands are usually a complete miss, and naps are taken in the car going to or coming from wherever it is we are needed that day. I constantly feel like I am trying to cram more and more into an already full suitcase, and once in a while I get to re-fold and move things around, but there’s still never quite enough room.
I’m sure that this is just how parenthood feels – the constant struggle for balance. I’m sure most of you out there who have children are nodding your heads, and possibly even rolling your eyes. (If you’re thinking “yep, duh. welcome to the club” with a smart ass smirk on your face, I am silently cursing you out right now because there is seriously nothing more irritating than those know-it-alls who act like they have been through everything; patronizing my fresh and raw experience because it couldn’t possibly be different/harder/more whatever than theirs.)
When it all gets too overwhelming, and the list of To-Do’s gets too long, and instead of being productive and crossing anything off I’d rather just crawl under my covers and binge on mindless TV, I try to breathe.
One thing at a time. It’s ok. You’re doing the best you can. Riley is the most important thing. The rest can wait. Focus on one thing at a time.
I feel most productive when I’ve managed to clean the house. When things are in order my mind can breathe and I feel less stressed and more eager to tackle other projects. I’m learning how to best try to stay on top of this – one chore at a time.
Focus on one room, one task. Just do what you have time for. Little by little it will all get done.
I’m learning that rest is important. If we have a rough night, I just try to focus on keeping a happy baby the next day in hopes that the next night will be better. I do something nice for myself like stand in the hot shower for an extra 10 minutes and just decompress. I forget about doing my hair or makeup, and meditate instead. I treat myself to a coffee because I can drink it when it’s hot if she’s sitting in her car seat and we are driving somewhere.
Balance is, and has always been a tricky thing for me. It’s a constant battle of needs and wants and must haves. This is no different for anyone, but it’s completely different for everyone. For now, I am trying to keep focused on this small list of things that help me feel like each day was good, regardless of everything that is and was and will be.
Enjoy time with Riley. It’s going by too fast already and if you blink you will miss it.
Take pictures of what makes you happy.
Clean something. Anything.
Do one thing for the business.
Spend time with Brad.
This keeps me grounded. It keeps me happy, and focused. It’s small enough to remember and not overwhelm, but big enough to matter and make a difference.
Most importantly, and I don’t want this to get lost in this long post of what almost feels like a complaint, but really is more of a stream-of-consciousness that I don’t want to forget, is that these are the days. I am sure that these are the days I will look back on and miss. I’ll reminisce about the sweet times with my new baby, and most of all of the stresses and worries will have been forgotten.
I’ll remember her sweet giggles, and how she grabs onto me when I pick her up, and her big open mouth kisses. I’ll remember the scent of her fresh out of the bath, and the way she picks things up, always analyzing them. Tasting them, shaking them. I’ll remember how she says “mmmmm!!” when she eats something she likes, and how she says “da da” when I ask her to say “mama”. How her eyes smile at me whenever I look at her, and how she squeals and tries to crawl away from me when I chase her.
These days are so precious, and such a gift. My worries and frustrations are so small compared to how grand this entire experience is, and I am so grateful for all of it. I always dreamed of having my own family. I’ve wanted kids for as long as I can remember, and now that it’s all here and happening and real, and even better than I could have ever imagined it, it often feels like a dream.
I get to be a mama. There is nothing better. Absolutely nothing.
So when it all gets to be too much, and I want to bury my head in the sand, lately I have been taking deep breaths, and remembering this quote I found:
“If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.”
And somehow, it makes me feel better.