“If you would have asked me growing up if I ever saw myself being a stay-at-home mom, I literally would have laughed. Growing up, my parents always instilled in me the belief in the American dream. Graduating high school, moving on to college, starting a career, and working until retirement. The idea seemed simple and secure if you didn’t account for life changes, marrying your high school sweetheart with career dreams requiring relocation, and raising a family.
The day I walked across the stage with my Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, I was hired as a Deputy at the local sheriff’s office. I attended a 13-week Law Enforcement academy; was tased, OC sprayed, and got the t-shirt. My sheltered-suburb-living mind was quickly awakened to the reality of inner-city crime and poverty while working on patrol. I felt purpose in leaving the community I lived in a little bit better after each shift I worked. I absolutely loved my job! I loved helping others, the adrenaline rush, and the thrill of each day being something new and different. I felt invincible. I was brave. The reality of walking out the door in a uniform, and maybe not coming home seemed unrealistic.
Until my husband and I started a family.
We found out I was pregnant and immediately priorities changed. I was now responsible for another human life. It was now my primary responsibility to protect my body while that sweet babe grew. A few weeks later, we lost the baby. I was overcome with feelings of anger. I felt alone. No one understood the feelings of loss I had. I longed to hear from others who had experienced this type of loss, but finding women willing to open up with their story was rare since society constantly shuns vulnerability in sharing weakness. Then came the blame. Was it from the stress of my job? Was it because my body failed? Would I ever be able to have children? So many feelings and emotions, which became questioning the longevity of my career, if it interfered with my dreams to start a family.
Several months passed, and we were blessed with our rainbow baby, Calahan. I never considered myself a very motherly person. To be quite honest, I had never changed a diaper until the nurse in the hospital showed me how. But, the split-second they laid her on my chest, everything changed. Every plan I once had, every love I once knew, all took a 180-degree turn the second I laid eyes on her. Through the sleepless nights and rush of postpartum hormones, while covered in the new mom perfume of spit-up, I vividly remember sitting and staring at her. I told her through the ugly cries if I lived to be 100, that was not long enough. In fact, eternity was not long enough to spend with her.
It took 3 weeks of being back on patrol after maternity leave to decide shift work, in a dangerous line of duty, was not my priority anymore. A position that required 4 years of a college degree, five figures of student loan debt, 3 months in the academy, 90 days in-field training, 40 hours of continuing education each year, and NONE of that mattered anymore. It literally made me sick to my stomach each day as I walked out the door to go on duty, this could be the last time I see her. It was not fair to her. I wanted to be home with her. I was her mommy. She relied on me to nourish her. I wanted to be the first one to see her roll over, walk, or say her first word. Not a daycare stranger. Those feelings ultimately resulted in a resignation from my position as a Deputy.
I wish I could say walking away from the camaraderie of the law enforcement family was easy. The sense of community that is created amongst officers is rather addicting. A special bond is formed, as you rely on each other in life or death situations. Leaving felt as though I was abandoning them and letting them down. I battled with the thought that 9 years of my life, a career I worked so hard for, had gone to waste. I’ll never forget when a close friend said to me, ‘Everything you accomplished. The years you served, the impact you left on your community. No one can take that from you. No one can erase what you have done during this time.’ For whatever reason, hearing someone acknowledge this switching gears, did not mean everything I had done was null and void.
The thought of being a stay at home mom seemed lonely. I am an Enneagram 2, extrovert, who is career-oriented and thrives off of achieving goals. I knew God was opening up a new chapter of my life. A short time later we welcomed our son, Nash. I promised myself I would never again pay someone to raise my babies or experience that dreaded first day of daycare drop off. I wanted to soak up every second with them, never missing a first and cherishing all of the memories to be made.
Clueless as to how to take on this new role, I scoured Pinterest for all of the at-home activities and toddler play ideas. I joined memberships to the local libraries, swimming pools, and asked for all of the advice on how to fill up our days. The first couple of weeks, which resembled vacation mode, were full of extra snuggles, spontaneous strolls down the aisles of TJ Maxx, park play dates, and daily reminders of how blessed I was to be able to stay home and never miss a first. But I quickly realized this was going to be so much different than I expected. I began to lose myself in this new role.
A once goal-oriented, career-driven woman who thrived off of constantly bettering herself, turned into merely surviving each day, feeling confined to conversations with a toddler and never-ending tasks around the house that were never recognized as accomplishments. Each day feeling like I slaved, with nothing to show for it.
Society often has this idea of stay at home moms living the dream life in pajamas, sipping warm coffee, snuggled up on the couch while watching cartoons all day. If I had a nickel for every time I was asked, ‘Do you JUST stay home with the kids?’ my kid’s college education would be paid for. I often catch myself apologizing to other moms I connect with for using that four-letter word. Over the last 3 years, I have learned there is no such thing as JUST staying home with the kids. JUST requires 100% of your attention, every single diaper change, being on snack duty at their beck and call, diluting stage 5 meltdowns, having a home-cooked meal on the table for dinner, forgetting to brush your teeth, and showering at 8 p.m. after you finally fought the final battle of the day during bedtime routines.
Motherhood has brought out the best qualities in me, ones I take pride in. Organization, strict routines, prioritizing raising my children with manners and appreciation of what we are given while sharing the reality of the world we live in. But it has shamefully also brought out the ugliest parts of me. My temper on the fussy days when nothing seems to keep them content. Selfishness and lack of attention, giving into one last Paw Patrol episode when I need a break, and highlighting my impatience when I am asked to homeschool, considering I never even enjoyed school myself.
I’m so thankful for their quick forgiveness and loving me anyway.
Mama, I see you. I see you need a break sometimes. I see how selfless you’ve become. I see the times you cry out the frustration in the shower because of all the hats you are being asked to wear. I see how you feel you’ve lost your identity. I see how you would kill for a warm bubble bath and glass of wine in peace and quiet.
I see you…. Because I am you. And it is my mission to use this platform to normalize the raw and real of motherhood. To erase the picture-perfect highlight reel of social media we constantly compare ourselves to and instead stand beside you to say, ‘Mama, me too. I totally understand. I’m so glad we are not in this alone.’
I strive to show women how important it is to not forget to take care of themselves. Usually, that means waking up and having quiet time to myself before the chaos starts, filling my cup so I can pour into them the rest of the day. They need me at my best every single day, which requires a level of discipline to take care of me, mentally, physically, and spiritually so I can set an example for who they will become. I also crave introducing others to the community of humans I joined who are sharing, growing, and determined to lead others to lives of wellbeing, to leave the world a better place than we found it. Having found this avenue of socialization and purpose allows me to work in the ‘mom cracks’ of life while raising my babies at home. It fulfills that sense of purpose, goal setting, and achievement while allowing me to help others, which will always be in my blood.
Motherhood is the most exhausting, yet most rewarding adventure I have ever been on. Constant trial and error through each new phase, while sneaking their Halloween candy into the far corners of our closet so I don’t have to share. Through it all, I think we would all agree someday we will miss these sleepless nights followed by exhausting days. We will WANT them to need us again. We will WISH back the days they fit in our arms and we could kiss their owies away.
We are all doing our dang best! They don’t send us home from the hospital with an owner’s manual, we are all in this crazy journey together!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Malary Pittz from Kansas City, Kansas. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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