Motherhood- she hits hard. It’s not just the weight gain, the toll of endless sleepless nights, the fact that you crave sugar all day long to stave off the total exhaustion…. It’s not just that you feel so worn out and not-like-the-old-you all of the time.
It’s also that you’ve lost your cool.
You know… the part of you that once felt like you were fashionable. and pretty, and smart, and knowledgeable about current events. That you actually knew who all of those celebs were that grace the covers of Us, People, and the Entertainment Weekly- you knew their names, the name of the people they were dating, and had seen the movies/TV shows they had starred in. Yes- that kind of cool.
Oh- and your identity? Your sense of self? Well, that came from your career. Not from being defined as somebody’s Mom, or somebody’s spouse. You had a job, you had your own goals, dreams, paycheck, and accomplishments that came from things you delivered in a work environment. It defined you. Or at least in my case back then, it defined me.
When I decided that it was time for me to leave my job and stay at home (and at this point I had three kids with a 4th child “on the way” via international adoption), I was completely lost at sea. I remember wondering how I would fill my days, how I would both entertain and educate the kids with less help from daycare/preschool, and how in the world I would ever define myself to others. For a long time I would introduce myself by explaining what I used to do…. “I used to work at an apparel company in information systems” rather than tell people that I was a stay-at-home Mom. Was I ashamed of what I was doing? No, not at all. It just didn’t seem to fit the definition of how I thought of myself… a kick-butt-take-no-prisoners executive who could tell you what we needed to do to improve the business right NOW. Not a butt-wiping, meal-prepping, house-cleaning, kid-wrangling Mom. That might be what I did…. but it wasn’t who I WAS.
And at the time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way.
My friend Tracy Beckerman wrote a book that I just loved reading because it talked about this very thing. With a little NYC-swagger thrown in (and as an ex-dept store buyer, I totally got the NYC-dress-all-in-black lifestyle that she moved out of before she moved into the NJ ‘burbs). As I read the book, I kept hoping we would get to the point where Tracy showed us how she got her swagger back….. right? Wouldn’t this turn out to be a lesson for us all on how to re-gain our cool? Minus the pinterest overachieving B.S.?
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Ah- but you’ll have to read it to see how it ends….. but it’s less of a how-to guide than it is a Me-too guide. And for this Mom…. that makes it the perfect Mother’s Day read!
Did any of you leave a career behind when you decided to become a stay-at-home Mom? What it as challenging of a transition for you as it was for me?