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just a mom. but not really.

Stepping away from my computer makes my mind spin. I wind up with so many thoughts of things that might be good topics to share here. I write in my head. Right now, more than anything, mothering is atop my list of thoughts, struggles & challenges. Seems as though I am not alone. Your feedback on my recent post has been so positive. (Thank you a zillion times over!!) But it has been mixed. Some of you think I am heading in the right direction. Some of you have pulled me aside, emailed me or sent me messages telling me that you think I am crazy. Nowlin made me clarify what “not having balance” meant to me & I fessed up that although the laundry was clean & sorted in its proper basket, it wasn’t folded and put away (& that bothers me.) That is my lack of balance. (He laughed.) Hellooooo my name is shawna and I am type A.

I am glad you are here to share this experience. This part of motherhood tends to be so hush, hush. Few talk about the struggles in a constructive manner & with a positive attitude. I am not a complainer. I am a reader. a writer. a thinker. a do-er. I try my best to handle this with POSITIVITY.

But, I keep having this recurring dream. I am at the park with someone I just met. She is in her pajamas and her kids are a mess. We are both swinging a child on a swing. She strikes up a conversation with me:

So, you stay home with your kids?

Yep.

So you are just a mom too?

& then it ends. This is my current struggle: somehow it feels like staying home with my child suddenly erases all my accomplishments…everything that made me ME. Graduating magna cum laude…(just a mom.) Holding a company record for most sales in the first month of employment…(just a mom.) President’s Circle achiever…(just a mom.) Small business owner…(just a mom.) ::shudder::

NO. I am not just a mom.

But how will my daughter know that? She will never see me put on a business suit and go off to work. She will rarely see my accomplishments that do not involve her. How do I help her learn the value of hard work outside the home, when she only sees my hard work in the home? Are they mutually exclusive?

As I have said before, I had some rigorous corporate goals to achieve before I wanted to have babies. I had a specific dollar amount that I needed to earn MYSELF so that if anything does ever happen to my husband, I am certain that I can take care of this family. When I reached that goal, I stopped taking birth control. I started this business because I could not get pregnant and this filled the time I spent sulking in sorrow over the life I wished for but could not have. I never thought I would see infertility as a blessing…but it certainly pushed me into a joyful opportunity that I likely would not have ever discovered if I saw two pink lines right away.

I like to think that as long as I work hard, no matter what I do, my daughter will focus more on the work ethic than on the work. Keeping a tidy home. Cooking every night. Cleaning, often & thoroughly. Valuing education as the utmost priority. Taking care of ourselves physically. These are the things we start with. Right?

Recently, a friend of mine recommended a book & so much of it has resonated with me. It has greatly shaped my perspective on my role as MOM. Maybe you have heard of it, Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional Professional Motherhood. It is written in 40 one to two page chapters, which makes it a breeze to read. The theme is how to make your job as a mom like any other job…one with routine, purpose & organization. It simplifies everything in such a logical way. There is also a website & a blog: SteadyMom.

I started with Chapter One. Such a simple concept, but this has changed me:

A prepared mother looks professional. No one would show up to the office for a busy day in her pajamas. And yet there’s a stereotype of mothers, particularly stay-at-home mothers, consisting of bathrobes & slippers until 11:00, combined with talk shows & soap operas all afternoon. No wonder motherhood isn’t valued in Western cultures. Our jobs as mothers have more long-lasting impact, even on future generations, than almost any business meeting could. By doing my job with intention, I help others redefine what motherhood can & should be.

So you know what? Out the window went a bunch of my clothing. (Well…I donated it.) But truly, you know those clothes that lie somewhere between pajamas and gym clothes…but you don’t use them for either? Yep. Got rid of them. I have nice gym clothes. I have comfortable yet stylish “mommy” clothes. (btw-do you know how comfortable dresses are?!? try it! I live in them!)  Of course we have pajama days…but those will be a “treat” not the norm. Unless I am going to the gym, I am dressed. Simple as that. I want to change the stereotype of a SAHM.

I am not just a mom. I am organized. I am professional. I take my job seriously. Even if it involves snotty noses most of the day. (Who says you can’t look good while wiping one?) I have begun to treat this job no differently than any other I’ve held. & starting small is sometimes just what it takes. It’s amazing how much more you can accomplish when you simply get dressed. Cute shoes can definitely set the tone for a fabulous day. ;)

This image was taken in Nebraska at Chadron State Park over the summer…’cause every post needs a picture. ;)

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  • Jen Barnes - You know, I kept that up – what you write about… the dressing professionally, the order, the organization – with one kid, awesomely. Two kids, most of the time, and with three, I’m overwhelmed. Gone is my morning routine, the nice clothes, the purpose, the *time*! As I type this it is 10:33 and I *am* still in my robe. Thanks for the inspiration to at least try to get back to that sense of purpose. Off to go do my morning routine, even though it is barely morning anymore. <3ReplyCancel

  • Anne - I went through a HUGE identity crisis after Claire was born. It wasn’t until just recently that I had this epiphany too :) You’re right, it needs to be talked about and we need to celebrate our awesome, yet often times “underrated”, jobs as moms!ReplyCancel

  • Rachael - Love this post!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Clay - I love this post so much!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - What a poignant and ever-so-true post about stay at home mommyhood! I’m so glad I met you through MOPS. I’m certain we have a lot in common and probably more than we have realized already. Thanks for the post and the inspiration. :) Hope to see you soon!

    PS- Your daughter will love you and be proud of you no matter what you do.ReplyCancel

  • The Up North Writer Mama - Thank you thank you thank you.

    I have been thinking about writing a blog post on this issue myself (and I still will).

    And thank you for the SteadyMom link… I’m adding that book to my list, too. :)ReplyCancel

  • steadymom - I’m so thrilled that you enjoyed my book. Truly, thanks for sharing. I have battled the same feeling of being “just a mom” and trying to define/redefine what that means in my life.

    And the definition is always evolving, it seems!

    All the best,

    JamieReplyCancel

  • Iris - I love it!! Thanks for the wonderful reminder that we SAHMs are not alone. Some moms are not as fortunate to be able to stay home with their babies so we are blessed! When I quit my job to stay home with my 4 month old baby there was such a sense of relief. I think that it is sad that in this day and age some people are surprised that you actually want to be the one to take care of your child. Crazy!!ReplyCancel

  • Chelsea McCown - Just what I needed to hear right now. Thanks for the book recommendation.

    Wonderful post. Thanks again for your honesty!

    ChelseaReplyCancel

  • Sara - Ugh! I totally know what you mean about the laundry not getting put away. I’m not as Type A as you, but I actually wish I were! I’m going to check out this book, because it sounds like exactly what I need. I hate that “just a mom” identity, but the reality is that it is a 24 hour job, with no retirement and it deserves that level of respect. I too worked professionally full time, went to school and then took a side job during a year of waiting to see those 18 days of high temps (I charted). But when it came to being a parent I realized that this was my new full time job. And I can only do one full time job. I believe that half-hearted effort brings half-assed results. Therefore my family gets my whole-hearted effort.ReplyCancel

  • Leslie - Love this post! I can completely relate! I want to be more than “just” a SAHM too. I guess it’s the type A in me ;)ReplyCancel

  • Colleen Sheehy - I love this post. Personally I have issues doing my hair. I get dressed but the hair goes in a bun most days. I like your theory and am thinking I should read this book.
    Can you share where you get some of your Mommy clothes sometime? I love to know. I’m always looking for cute and durable clothing at a good price. :)ReplyCancel

  • nowlin roberts - Cute shoes can definitely set the tone for a fabulous day. Yes Maam!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - Shawna- you are me 10 years ago. Really, you are (except I was not quite as organized as you, and certainly not as stylish!!!). It was hard for me to switch from working woman to staying at home momma and I really struggled. But guess what? Now that my kiddos are 11 and 8 we are so close, I have been there for everything, and it’s been the best decision I ever made. There will always be time to “go back to work.”ReplyCancel

  • ElisabethCS - Great post. I do agree with you…but

    Every season will come with new a challenge. I was able to be a “together” mama when I just had my daughter 7+ years ago. Now a new mommy again…and to three kiddos total…working on just getting all the must-to-dos done. Like showering, making food, keeping things somewhat clean and oh the laundry, don’t get me started. And where oh where did the “me time” go? Enjoy this season of your life…if there are more kiddos in your future you will have to go through some not so pretty days. But focusing on the important things I think is what’s important.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - Wow, I think just a stay at home mom is harsh, although I wonder how much is really the society’s expectations. I mean, I don’t judge the parents that come into my office with their kiddos for well child checks and think oh she’s just a mom, although my mom and gma raised me–I never spent a day in daycare, unlike a lot of people… and then theres the additional label of being a military wife.. which I think automatically comes across degrading, since the AF doesn’t focus on personal growth for military wives at all. I think the way you carry yourself shines through…no matter what you wear (I don’t have the time either for stylish outfits most days), you can almost always guess who is very educated by what comes out of their mouth and who has goals in life, and who do not.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie - Hey Shawna! So, I recently quit my job as a teacher to stay at home with Belle (she’s 11 months now). Although I didn’t have the same professional concerns (teaching is something I hope to jump back into when my kid(s) go to school), I did feel the same way about approaching motherhood as a job. I LOVE (did I mention love?) staying home with Belle, and I am increasing organized about our routine. I approach being a mom, housework, etc as a job and it works out well for us. It makes me happy. That being said, I think the best kind of mom is a happy one. I don’t think that there is anything more important than role modeling contentment for your child. So choose whatever makes you happiest, no regrets. ;)ReplyCancel

  • jenberry - i was saving this in my RSS for days so i could actually sit down and read it uninterrupted. Even though I’m not a mother, I have this fear that when/if I am one, my job won’t be taken seriously. I always thought it’d be out of my control, but really, as you put it’s what individuals make of it for themselves. I found your words comforting and inspiring. I value the incredible amount of work that goes into being a mother. I assume there is no harder job on this planet. BTW i love your blogReplyCancel

  • Jenn @ Beautiful Calling - You know, in my limited 3 1/2 years of being a mother, I’m learning that identity crisis and the like, seem to be a bit of an ongoing battle for me. Just when I think I have fully embraced my role as wife, mother, homemaker…I struggle.
    But being just a mom is the most {frustrating, overwhelming} wonderful and most rewarding position that we could have…especially during this fleeting impressionable years!
    Welcome to the club; together we can make it!
    {I enjoyed Jamie’s book and blog too}ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne Meador - I LOVED reading your blog. I’m just now getting to know you my new friend and this explains you perfectly. I love your insights into being a mom and thinking of it as a job. When you think of it this way you will see accomplishments along the way.

    I admire you for seeing the importance of motherhood, and CHOOSING this life. You are amazing and I’m so excited about getting to know you better.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - About 4 months ago i stopped working PT from home and told my boss i would not be coming back FT. I just finished my MBA and Claire is 8 mo. Someone in my class asked, “why are you getting an MBA if you are just going to be a SAHM?” I struggle in how to answer too, but know that this time is so short and I want to be at home with her …..who knows what the future holds, but ya never can go wrong with having more education, no matter how I use it!

    Love this post!ReplyCancel

  • Zantia - I literally just had this conversation with my husband! I’ve went through this identity crisis over the course of the last year. I thought I had to learn how not to be a business owner, or even have a job, but really I just had to figure out how to adapt my new SAHM job. I struggled with finding a balance, and I feel like having our first relocation away from family left me a little frazzled as well. I’m starting to find my way in baby steps, and I’m looking forward to reading this book you suggested, because I strongly believe that not only your clothes, but your attitude, your goals and involvement all represent your new position as a mother, as well as your children and your husband. As a SAHM there are so many hats – caretaker, housekeeper, chef, nurse, teacher, event planner, volunteer, the list goes on and on and sometimes I forget that.ReplyCancel

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