Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stay At Home Mom: Identity loss?

Since the birth of our baby girl, we'll call her Joybird, my husband and I decided that I would be a Stay At Home Mom. I quickly learned the lingo, so we'll refer to me as a SAHM from this point on. My mom was a SAHM until I went to school, my husband's mom was a SAHM with her three children, and that's what I wanted and WANT to be as well. Before I was a SAHM I was a kindergarten teacher. What a fulfilling job. In fact, I'd been a teacher since 2006. I graduated with a bachelor's in Elementary Education in 2006 AND a master's in Reading Education in 2010. I love the kids, the work, the fulfillment of giving back and molding little brains and hearts into productive young members of society from an early age. I got a new batch every year and it was my job to impart wisdom, academics, and morals into these little sponges. Was it trying at times? Of course! But, overall, I felt I was pretty much born to be a teacher. I loved them, they loved me, and I loved my work. Then, our little Joybird came. I KNEW that I wanted to be a SAHM. I wanted to give her what my mom gave me. I want to be the one to teach her at an early age, I want to be the one to see every single milestone and not miss a single one, and I want to be the one that would never have to look back and regret missing something. It is my understanding that you can't get that time back with your child and, by golly, if I can't get it back, I don't want to lose it in the first place! With that said, I absolutely LOVE being home with our little Joybird. Naturally, she's the joy of my life. So many cheesy song lyrics and witty sayings come to mind when I think of her and how much I've fallen in love with her since before birth. My husband and I have had to make sacrifices for me to be a SAHM, I won't lie. We don't get to spend willy nilly on things like we used to. If I see that cute shirt at Target, I ask the dreaded question, "Do I NEED it?" I would say 99% of the time I responsibly reply, "No." But I don't mind. I don't mind because I know that I'm pushing my wants aside for what I want for our child. Back to the topic at hand...

Identity loss.

Little Joybird is 6 months old today. Happy half birthday! We've been taking half birthday pics off and on all day. When would I have time to do that if I were teaching? Just another little reminder that we made the right decision. Lately, though, I've experienced something that other SAHM may have experienced after being in the work force for so long and then taking the role of SAHM. Identity loss. If you love what you do in the workforce, I think you're naturally going to feel successful. I felt proud of my students and, therefore, proud of myself when I was a teacher. I felt successful. I felt like I was making a noticeable contribution to society as a whole. Now that I attend to one little person (2 really since I babysit a 1 year old full time), I don't feel that success. I don't feel like I'm giving back to society. I don't feel like I'm contributing as much as I should be or want to be. But that's crazy, right? I would not want to be anywhere else but taking care of my own child, so how can I simultaneously feel like I'm "nothing"? I KNOW I'm "something" to our little Joybird. I KNOW I'm "something" to my husband. I KNOW I'm "something" to my family. So how can I feel like I'm "nothing" when I KNOW I'm "something"? Somebody please back me up here.

Identity loss. I feel as if my identity was embedded in my career as a teacher. I've been calling myself a teacher for 7 years! When you're no longer something you've identified yourself with for so long, you feel a sense of loss. That's the best way to explain it. Althought I've GAINED the position of being a SAHM to my little Joybird, I've LOST my identity as a teacher. I've picked and pecked and prodded around different things, seeing if anything would spark my interest in the way of "work". I started this blog and was all gung-ho for about 2 weeks. That fizzled out because I couldn't get any "traffic". I started an Etsy shop because I love to be creative and make things. That fizzled out because I wasn't seeing results. I thought about writing a children's novel based on some of my own childhood experiences. That task seems daunting, but it's not completely off the table. I started a little Instragram shop. Still on that, but it's only been a couple weeks. I like that one because it's low maintenance and if it bombs, I didn't lose anything out of pocket. I haven't mentioned everything that I've looked into, started, and stopped. There's too many to list. With any and all of them, I'm just not feeling the spark of success. Not tooting my own horn, but I do a pretty outstanding job with our little Joybird and the 1 year old I babysit. I spend quality one on one time with both and I currently teach the 1 year old sign language. I feel pretty successful with that, but there's still something in me that says you can do more.

If you're struggling with something similar, you're not alone. Even though it seems like the internet is chock full of mommy blogs showing off DIY projects, new recipes they've somehow had the time to shop for, prepare, cook, and clean up after, insights into the latest trends of handstamped leggings paired with a slouchy crew sweat shirt and handmade metallic moccs (can't forget the accessories!), and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I promise you, not every SAHM is out there making it look like a walk in the park. There's a SAHM right here who is still trying to figure this whole thing out, who wants to be successful at something outside of being a wonderful momma, and who understands the feeling of wanting to do MORE but not knowing WHAT. If I DO end up figuring this whole business out and feeling like I've found a new identity, I'll be sure to post.