I Think I’m Okay (and Some Thoughts on Self-Care)

3.06.2017


I work for a nonprofit, and most of the people we deal with on a day-to-day basis are teachers, so my office is closed for the week between Christmas and the New Year. It’s always tough coming back to work and getting into the swing of things after a break, but coming back in 2017 was especially hard. I had spent an entire week hanging out at home with R, and I loved every minute. Seriously, I did. It was awesome.

And then I had to drop her off at daycare on January 3, and I cried all day at work. At one point, one of my coworkers came up to ask me something, and I was all puffy and red-eyed, and when he asked me if I was okay, all I could choke out was, “I miss R,” like an idiot.

I have not been shy about the fact that being at work and away from R so much is hard for me. If I’m honest, I’ve actually probably beat that nail into the ground a little too much. For a while I was angry and bitter, and then it just turned into kind of a dull ache that constantly surrounded me. I thought about it a lot, and I talked about it a lot. Coming back to work in the new year felt like ripping off the scab of a wound that was finally starting to heal. Now I was bleeding all over again.

I know that not every mom feels like this. Some love working, and that has absolutely nothing to do with how much they love their kid, but they are fulfilled being at work and feel like they are a better parent because of it. I’ve always tried to be clear on this point: I do not hate working. I do not hate my job. I've hated jobs before, and this is not what that feels like. I like going to work, and I like my coworkers, and I like what I do. 

But I love being at home with R more. I love our weekends together. I love my days off that we spend with each other. I loved my week-long break in December. I wasn’t ready to go back to work. I wasn’t ready to run to my quiet office and eat breakfast in peace. I really wasn’t.

So the beginning of January was hard. I kept trying to focus on being thankful and praying for peace and contentedness, and I didn’t feel like any of it was working. God wasn’t listening.

At some point right around the middle of January, I realized that maybe continuing to focus on the fact that I have a terrible time leaving R to go to work every day was part of my problem. I was seeing things on social media that “triggered” me, I was talking about it to Jordan and my friends, and just in general I was thinking about it a lot. Maybe I was part of my own problem. 

God can do work on our hearts, but we have to be open to letting him, and I do believe that sometimes we have to take action toward something we are praying about. Not all the time, but sometimes I think we can be too passive when we are praying about something in our lives that we want to change.

There’s been a lot of talk about “self-care” this year. I see this mostly regarding the November election in terms of things you can to when you get depressed that the country is going to crap. And I’m not going to comment on whether it is or it isn’t, but the point is, I think the concept of self-care can be useful for lots of other situations too. I decided to think about what self-care meant for me when it came to being a working mom.

One thing I immediately stopped doing was talking about it so much. It’s not that I don’t think you should share when something is bothering you, but in my case it felt like work and missing R and guilt and the fact that I felt jealous of moms who stayed at home was starting to dominate all of my conversations. It was also affecting my marriage in a subtle way because when I talked to Jordan about how much I missed R and how I wished I could stay at home with her, I was also (unintentionally) making him feel bad about not being able to provide for us in that way with just his job. So I stopped bringing it up as much.

I also stopped looking at social media during the day. (And really I should do this anyway because, hello, I’m at work.) When I’m sitting at my desk feeling sad that I’m not with R, seeing five pictures in a row on Facebook or Instagram of moms snuggling their cute babies or hanging out at Target or at the park in the middle of the afternoon is the last thing I need. It puts me into a spiral that ends with me texting Jordan six crying faces and staring blankly at my keyboard. Similarly, I realized that reading blog posts written by a stay-at-home mom where she either details a day in her life or talks about what she’s been up to currently tend to always make me jealous, so I’ve intentionally stopped reading those.

I hope I don’t sound like a total jerk here; it’s not that I don’t like SAHMs or don’t want to be friends, but I was trying to make an intentional change in my attitude about working, and these were the things I thought would help the most. I also continued to pray about my attitude, focus on being thankful, and make sure to be intentional about the time I do get to spend with R.

So that was all happening around the middle of January. We are now settled into March, and as I was driving to work a week or so ago, I was thinking about life and being introspective and stuff (as one does during their commute; you mean you listen to podcasts instead?), and I realized something: I think I’m okay.

Now, of course okay is a relative term. Do I miss R? Absolutely, I do. Do I struggle with feelings of jealousy toward moms who don’t have to work? Yes. Am I hopeful that maybe one day I might be able to have more flexibility with our income to either be able to stay at home full time or even just work part time? I am.

But I feel okay. I am doing okay.

And even more than that, I feel happy and thankful and joyful about the life I am living.

It’s not glamorous. It’s not always pretty. It doesn’t involve lots of new things or new places.  By any real definition of the word, the life I live is honestly very boring. It’s hard and messy, and I’m just trying to do the best I can with what I have been given. I love my daughter, and I love the time we have together, but I also value my ability to work and do something I am passionate about, and I feel confident and thankful that R has fun and is loved during the day when I’m not with her.

It took longer than I wanted to truly be able to say that and mean it, and I’m still not all the way there. I don’t honestly know if I will ever be. And I still have hard days where I struggle with this more than other days.

But what I'm saying right now is that (finally) I really can honestly tell you that I think I’m doing okay.

Related: How to Support Working Moms

29 comments:

  1. This makes me really happy to hear! Sometimes it's enough to just be doing okay.

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    1. I asked Jordan if he had noticed a difference at all, and he said that I seem happier :)

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  2. This post really hit home with me and I am so glad that you shared it. The past couple of years I have had a really hard time coming to terms with me not having any more children. I scroll through social media and see pregnancy announcements and feel a huge pang of jealousy. I find myself getting teary-eyed at pregnancy photos. The sadness I feel about not having any more kids definitely finds its way into many conversations. I need to work harder on coming to terms with it as well as leaving the topic alone because talking about it has not helped a bit.

    Sometimes being just okay, is okay.

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  3. You and I are so totally in the same boat. Love our jobs but love our babies more. You're a woman, doing what you're doing to help yourself! Keep it up!

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  4. This post really spoke to me. I think awhile back, we had commented about seeing stay at home moms on social media and what not, and I did the same thing you did -- and not maliciously - but just to help me cope with not being with S all day. Some days are harder than others, but that longing never goes away. I'm glad you're starting to feel a little better. :)

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    1. It really has been good for me to intentionally stop looking at things that I know will make me feel bad. I'm glad to know it's been good for you too :) Just nice to know we aren't alone in the struggle!

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  5. You have to do what is going to make things easier for you, there is nothing wrong with eliminating things that trigger negative feelings. It's okay and it's good that you recognized what needed to happen. :) Good for you!

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    1. Thanks so much! Yes, it's not out of a place of wanting to be mean, but not looking at posts and people's feeds that I know will make me feel sad has been really good for me lately!

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  6. GOOD FOR YOU!! These were such great steps to take - for you, for your marriage, for your family. I'm so glad that you're in a good place - maybe not all day every day, because really, who is? But such a good step.

    Since Ava started full on walking a little over a month ago, her little toddler attitude has taken off as well and - I'll be honest - I am so glad to go to work. I don't think the toddler years are going to be my favorite and this is only the very, very beginning of them, which sometimes makes me want to cry. I hope it gets easier as she starts talking and our communication becomes better. You and I have talked about it before and my schedule (part time work, part time at home) really is the best of both worlds, but I've been even more grateful for the work part recently. Sometimes I feel guilty about that - what kind of mother am I, excited to leave my child and go to work?? - but I can't change who I am or the phase that we are in as a family so I just need to do the best I can in each place and move on.

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    1. It is harder when they start acting out a bit more, and it doesn't make you a bad mom to want some alone/adult time :) I know you know that! I honestly just don't ever feel like I want time away, even after a weekend or staying home with her for a full week in December! Jordan has to remind me it's bedtime because I never want to put her down. But we are all different and that's why it's silly to compare yourself to anyone else. You're doing a great job!

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  7. I'm giving up all social media until Easter. It's barely been a week now, but it's been so good for me! Also, I can assure you my stay-at-home mom days are not glamorous or relaxing or laid back -- the majority of my day is spent soothing a crying toddler or teaching her not to pull my hair or hit me, or skipping a shower so I can rush out of the house and get all of our errands done in an hour so she doesn't have a meltdown and/or fall asleep in the car. I LOVE staying home with her, but it is definitely not what people make it seem on social media. Even I don't like following people who make it seem that way, especially because I work from home too and that's a whole different challenge. I'm glad that you're doing okay and figuring out what you need to do for your health and your relationships!

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    1. Yes, girl! Jordan and I both gave up social media until Easter also! It's been really nice and surprisingly I don't miss it all that much, to be honest. I feel like I spend so much less time mindlessly scrolling on my phone.

      Since I am with R on the weekends all day Saturday and Sunday, I do know how tiring and crazy it can be to have a toddler running around all the time being nuts :) But seriously I love it, and like I said in my post, I was home with her for an entire week in December and I just loved it so much. So that's what makes me think that I would enjoy being home with her all the time, because I'm never ready to run back to work on Monday morning.

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  8. I think there is a delicate line when it comes to talking about what bothers you. Obviously, it's not good to bottle things up and shove them down, but like this, there are some things that just aren't going to change, and talking about them only hurts us (even though I think we deep down thing talking about it will help). That's so wise of you to have realized.

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  9. I am so happy for you!!!! Your words bring me so much joy. I think it is awesome that you decided to be proactive and do something to help yourself-you hit the nail on the head about passivity regarding prayers (I've been overly passive far too many times). I think there's a definite balance we all need to find, when there's a difficult situation, of responding to it and being honest with ourselves AND with not brooding on it too much.

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  10. There is absolutely nothing wrong with avoiding triggers. When something is affecting you as terribly as leaving R has been, it's one of the best things you CAN do. Don't feel bad about avoiding social media or turning Instagram off.
    You're doing great! I'm glad you're doing ok! One day at a time, friend! R will remember all the things she does with you on the weekends and at night. And she'll grow up knowing that her mom and dad worked hard for her and her little brother. She has such a good life because you put your best foot forward every day. You're doing a great job!

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  11. I'm so glad to hear you're feeling better! It's extremely hard to be honest with yourself and figure out the steps to take to actually make yourself feel ok, so that's awesome you were able to do just that. Proud of you!

    Katie @ www.livehalffullblog.com

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Katie :) I really do feel like I've gotten better lately and when I asked Jordan about it, he said I've seemed happier too.

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  12. You're awesome! I'm glad you're finding ways to not dwell on it, but also know that it's okay to hurt about it sometimes.

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  13. I think there is so much wisdom in deciding to avoid triggers. And in choosing not to dwell on something that you can't currently change. Like you said, it's important to talk about it and deal with the feelings that come, but once you've done that - it's good to turn your mind toward positive things as well.

    So I just read over this comment and it sounds like a bunch of fluff, but I don't mean it that way. Mostly it's just that I don't have much to add to what you already said, but I want to let you know I agree. So glad you are in a place (at least today) where you are are doing okay. :)

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  14. I'm really happy that you feel content with your situation and that you feel hopeful :) everyone has a different situation and all you can do is continue to pray about it and stay positive.

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  15. I can only imagine how hard this has been for you. I can also only imagine how hard it's been to write about it. But I am glad that you are writing about it, because it makes me so happy to see how far you've come and how you've done it. I've really had to work on my attitude toward military life lately. I've noticed that sometimes it helps to talk about it, but there are certain times where I am complaining with another military spouse and we just feed off of each other and get even more upset and complain even more. Nick and I talk about it sometimes, but I try not to make him feel bad about doing his job. It's a hard balance for sure but staying positive and surrounding myself with positive people who get what I'm going through helps so much.

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  16. I am with you, and enjoy being at home with Z much more than going in to the office. And scrolling through social media surely doesn't help!! I am thankful that I have gotten to work from home some since I have been back, but the days I go to the office are so hard on me and I know that eventually I will be back in the office full time and I have so much dread about that!! I am glad that you are a little more at peace with your situation now. I know it takes awhile to get there!

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  17. Mmm, girl. You put that Devil behind you! You do sound a lot better. šŸ’œ

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  18. I'm happy to hear that your making intentional efforts to do whats best for your happiness! Sometimes you just have to put all differences aside and do what's best for you! I think taking a break from social media and blog posts is a huge help. I know you may be thinking I must not truly understand in the same aspect since I'm a SAHM, however I can relate to the similarity of finding happiness in general and not dwelling on the negatives of my life currently (mostly living situation and PPD/A) and often times, looking at others "perfect lives" makes my happiness that much harder to grasp. Long story short, self care is important and making changes to help improve your outlook is a great start! I'm glad your doing okay and I hope in time, it gets easier and easier!!

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  19. I stumbled upon your blog today and NEVER comment on blogs. But this post describes EXACTLY how I feel about working and being away from my little one. Thank you for putting into words my thoughts and feelings and letting me know i'm not the only mom who feels this way. Thank you!

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    1. So glad to hear it. Thanks for sharing. I'm giving you a virtual working mom high-five across the internet :)

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  20. I am so glad I found your blog!! As a full time working mom of a 2 1/2 year old you are putting into words exactly how I feel about the struggle of being away from my baby for the majority of each day. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad this resonated with you :)

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  21. This is so beautifully honest and I totally relate! What I've learned about my heart in this first year of motherhood is that it's bent toward discontentment no matter what. As I make changes to our lifestyle in hopes to feel less overwhelmed, have more time with Adeline, etc... I find something else to focus on and teeter toward discontentment again. It feels so ugly to admit that! I've been working on calling out those thoughts and verbally, out loud, thanking God for what I do have instead! That small change has helped curb my attitude so much.

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