A long time ago in a land far away (ie 2003 in another state) I was nearing the end of classes for my Associate’s. And as I sat in the business class I just had this thought come to me, “I won’t be doing this as a profession, it’s going to be more important to have a family.” The type of photography I wanted to do at the time was photojournalism of some sort. And I knew that in that type of work it would be really hard to start and mother a family. At least for me, I’m not that great at distance relationships. Always going places for assignment, or being out shooting all the time so I could get a few freelance jobs. There wouldn’t be enough time for me to also devote to my family.
Do know what makes this really crazy?! I wasn’t even dating anyone at the time. What?! But I knew how important it would be for me to have a family, so I started trying to think of what else I could do in life. I really struggled, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought from age 16 that I would do some type of photography for my work. I freaked out inside a lot of days, my personality likes to plan and I couldn’t plan anything since I had no idea what else really interested me. So when I suddenly found myself engaged a few months later I had a huge sigh of relief. I knew what my future was to an extent and I didn’t need to worry anymore about any of that growing up nonsense. I would get married, we’d work and have fun, and eventually have kids. So I was set for the next 10-15 years at least right? I would be a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) and I would think about what I want to be when I grow up later.
It took some time and emotional toll, but eventually we had a baby. And he was beautiful! At the time I worked part time as a crossing guard. And I continued this until just before the birth of our second son. And then I knew I needed to stay home full time with them. And so I did. And it wasn’t anything like I expected. My days weren’t that full, I wasn’t feeling fulfilled, my friends worked so I had no one to hang out with during the day. The second pregnancy and birth threw off my hormones a lot too, our second car died right around that time. So I found myself, stuck at home, lonely, nothing to do, no one to do it with, and even if there would have been something I would still have no way to get there to do it. And I was depressed. I mean all that is depressing enough on it’s own, but I had depression as well.
I’ve struggled over the years. I liked being a SAHM, but it was also lonely, and somewhat unfulfilling. Seriously, kids don’t thank you for all your hard work, and it started seeming as if nothing I did really mattered. And the few times I was with other adults, ha, my contribution to the convo was how I’d seen a Curious George episode about that. Don’t get me wrong, I love Curious George, but he’s not really adult kind of talk.
A few weeks ago I found this post on Facebook. And it really got me thinking about my experiences as a SAHM. It’s called 10 Dark Parenting Truths. #4 and 5 really struck me.
4. You might give up pieces of yourself that you once loved
No one has it all. No mother. No father. No person. All of life involves sacrifice, and parenting always demands its share of it.
It’s like those friends who stay, or return, or never come back at all. Some dreams and passions and loves stay even after the babies are born. Some return. Others don’t.
As a SAHM struggling with depression and other fun stuff, I had lost some of my identity. One day I realized I didn’t know who I was besides a Mom. I didn’t know what I liked anymore. Mothering and depression had taken over and I lost all other identity. It was overwhelming! I prayed a lot, and cried a lot. Then I started to write some. What I liked about myself (I love my long hair). Things I used to like. Things I felt I still liked. Things that interested me, things I wanted to do some day. Things others saw in me. It’s taken some time, and I’m still not fully there, but over the past 5-6 years I’ve been piecing me together again, and seeing who I am today. Finding that I am a mom, and a wife, but also so much more. Getting help with the depression made a HUGE difference in this.
5. You might find parenting unfulfilling
In fact, I would argue that parenting is not completely fulfilling for anyone—nor should it be. Our children’s lives cannot and should not consume our own (much as they might devour our time and attention). Our children are not and should not be viewed as extensions of ourselves.
Parenting can fill one with love and wonder and joy. But it cannot take the place of all the other possible loves and wonders and joys in the world.
Reading about these two things has helped put all the past crap I went through into perspective, and also taught me I’m not alone or abnormal in these feelings. Being a SAHM wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I’m still so glad that I did it. Not much in life ever happens the way we think it will, or feel the way we thought/want. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it, in fact somewhere along the way we find out a little bit more about ourselves, life, and those we love. And it’s great! Different than we though, but great!