This morning, I found myself with an unusual amount of time completely to myself. Today was “Donuts With Dad” at my stepdaughter’s school and she had requested the presence of not only my husband, but also her brother! So here I am, with time to actually get dressed, drink a hot cup of coffee and eat breakfast, all by myself! This time for myself had me reflecting on the past few months–how very different life has been for me and the decisions we had made as a family that led me to this moment, sitting in my kitchen typing, instead of starting first period in my classroom. And of course, the waterworks ensued.
You see, it wasn’t just the financial change that scared me about making the decision to stay home the remainder of the year. Yes, it would be a big change, but there was something deeper that scared me. Something much more personal–FEAR. Not financial fear, but fear of a different kind.
I was fearful of being a “letdown” to my husband. Ever since we had met, I have had the “go-getter” mentality. I was finishing up graduate school when we met, working full-time as a teacher and JV basketball coach. I thrived on achievement and was proud that I was able to own my home at the age of 25. I loved bringing in a paycheck, of feeling like I contributed. Our marriage has always been connected to the “team member” mentality–we both help out, both contribute. I had such a fear that by my not going back to work, that go-getter woman he married would become just a blur. Our “team” marriage mentality, gone.
I was fearful of being a “letdown” to my parents. My parents are both in education, having worked hard to be in administrative leadership positions. They are the reason I went into the field of education, why I became a passionate teacher. I have witnessed their sacrifices, both in personal time and financially, to ensure that my sister and I received the best education–that we would be able to thrive in our careers as adults. Once I graduated, they helped mentor me, to prepare me for interviews, setting up my classroom, and new, innovative classroom ideas. They encouraged me to not always follow the crowd, but to instead step outside of the box and try the new classroom technique, to push the limits as long as I always held to the belief that every child had the right to learn, every child has untapped potential. The fear of telling them I didn’t want to return to the classroom this year, that I wanted to spend more time at home, scared me. I didn’t want to let them down. I didn’t want them to feel that they had “wasted” their money, their time, their support.
I was fearful of what my working mom friends would think. I didn’t want them to think any differently of me–either that I was “lazy” and leaning on my husband to work solely for our family, or that I had jumped on the idea that being a “working-mom” is terrible for your family, your children. ( Because, let’s be honest: There are some who believe mom’s should be in the home full-time and others who believe mom’s should work as examples for their children, or just because they need to in order to provide. I say YOU DO YOU!) Most of my close friends and family are working moms and I was fearful that my short-time shift to staying home this year would leave me a bit alienated–that’d we have less in common or that’d they see me through a different lens.
I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to do it. The role of “wife” and “mommy” is hard. Mainly, because it is a job that you are “on-call” for 24/7. There are no weekends off, lunch breaks, or paid time off. I live in such a fear that I am not “good” enough at either job, especially not at the same time! It’s exhausting being responsible for a tiny human’s every need, then add in running a household, feeding your family, and taking time to continue to build upon my marriage and relationship with God and now you have one tired, pulled-too-thin momma. My greatest fear jumping into staying home the remainder of this year, after my family and I have sacrificed so much in order to do so, is that I will not come through for them. That I won’t be the best mom and step-mom to our kids, fully living in the moment with them. That I won’t be the loving, supportive wife that my husband needs. That I won’t stay up on the household jobs that keep our household running. That I will be deemed a “first-time” momma failure.
Now, even as I type out these fears I see how silly they can sound, but I also know that they are still very real. I don’t want to “fail” in any area of life–who does? But, I also know that I am not alone in these fears. Mommas, we have them. Know that it’s okay, you’re not alone. There are HARD days when you feel that you’re letting someone down. Push through. Know that in the end, you’re doing the best you can do. Lean on your husband, family, and friends during those times. Sometimes, that’s all you need–to voice your fears. Acknowledge them. Then, keep on grinding, loving on your babies and family, and trusting that you are doing an amazing job, momma!