When we think about Moms, we tend put them into two categories: Stay-at-Home Moms and Working Moms. Before I had Charlotte I identified with my work to protect myself from being vulnerable. If I could say what I did for a living when introducing myself it would become the focus of the conversation and I wouldn’t have to talk about the “real me” behind my job. Then after becoming a Mom, and later coming home to take care of Charlotte, I found it difficult to identify as a Stay-at-Home Mom. This new title felt vulnerable and now I know it was because it is closer to my true self. Since I had initially planned to work outside the home, I felt as if staying at home was taking the easy way out. If you’re not a mom, you might not know I was farther from the truth than I could have ever been. Being at home with your kids is hard and in absolutely no way, the “easy route”. For all of you Moms out there, I’m sorry I ever even had that thought. I know now it was totally just my inner critic talking and putting myself down for the choice I made. If I went a different route, I’d probably say the same thing.
The first year of Charlotte’s life, I let that inner critic take over more than I’d like to admit. I thought when you are at home, you had to actually stay at home all the time and make sure everything at home was perfect. You probably know what I’m going to say, and yes, you’re right, I let my perfectionistic side take over. When Charlotte was about 10 months old, a friend of mine asked what I was doing the next day and I gave her a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish. She responded by asking if I wanted to hang out. It was a surprise to me that I could, in fact, make space to hang out with her. We could have coffee, talk and Charlotte could nap, or play, or even sit with us. Before then, it hadn’t crossed my mind that I could do that. More importantly, I hadn’t let it cross my mind that it was allowed to do fun things. Since then, I started taking advantage of all the things I can do that I enjoy. I started connecting more with other Moms because I realized it not only makes me happy, it also keeps me sane. That same friend reminded me that when you’re a Mom, there are no breaks. We make time in our days to connect with one another which ultimately makes us better Mothers. Today, we enjoyed an afternoon swim with the kids!
In order for me to quiet down my inner critic, and accept this new role, my mindset needed to change. I needed to shift my thinking to what I’m able to do now that my schedule is flexible and I had to start redefining my understanding of accomplishments. I’m able to go on play dates, coffee dates, practice my photography, take classes together, go to the gym, meet friends, go to bible study, or Mom groups. And you know what? I like those things and they are how I take care of myself. I’m not sure why I put having fun and staying at home into two mutually exclusive categories. That has now changed. Since I love giving myself things to do, I’ll end this post with a task. My task from now on is telling my inner critic when it activates, “Thank you for trying to help me improve, but I’m taking a new path towards self-acceptance”.
Anyone else have any experience needing to shut down their inner critic?