I chose this. This life. This job. This this. This stay-at-homeness. My choice. For my family.
So, why do I sometimes stop and wonder what the heck I was thinking to leave my job, my professional persona, my heels behind? Why do I feel I’m not as good at this whole stay at home mom gig as I thought I would be?
Back in the working world I suffered through the annual review. I took those days away from real work to complete the torturous process of self-analysis and goal setting for the next year. I strangely enjoyed those meetings, dreaming up new challenges and ways to meet them, looking back on a year’s worth of work to see what, in actuality, had I accomplished. New clients, client growth, story successes. All documented in a spreadsheet or report and gone over by bosses and bosses bosses followed up with a line-by-line of new goals and the all important performance raise circled at the bottom, initialed by me, put in a folder to endure the rinse and repeat process the following year.
The parameters for this new job are a bit more variable. Success or failure is fluid, the final results not in until years and years in the future. Instead, I find I measure myself against the day-to-day to-do list. And I’m often disheartened by what I see.
Cooking? Passable. Nothing too inspired.
Laundry? Onesies still banana stained, shorts still ice cream stained and really what is up with t-shirt sweat stains? And that doesn’t count the laundry I forget in the washer for three days that has to be rerun.
Housekeeping? Ugh. Don’t ask. The house is under a constant tornado watch. For every 10 things I clear off a surface, there seem to be 15 taking their place in the same spot by the time I return to it. I can’t seem to get ahead.
The kids? Unpredictable. At times sweet, loving, funny and well behaved. Other times, hitting and pushing and obstinate.
We’re all our own worst critics and how any one hour goes can define how we feel about the job we’re doing as parents. So why is this weighing heavy on my mind all of a sudden?
Peanut’s birthday party.
I put together a “handmade” pirate-themed party for Peanut’s fourth. We did a treasure hunt obstacle course, complete with treasure map that arrived in a glass bottle. I had a great time making it theme-y without making it pricey and the kids had a blast. Peanut’s still bringing it up and I received rave reviews from my friends and family.
And it felt good. Really good. That’s when I realized how rare that kind of feedback is. How long it’s been since I had accomplished something concrete with real results. Something that would have made the spreadsheet:
2010 Goal: Peanut’s 4th Birthday Party.
Create theme and execute on a budget a two hour party with snacks that results in joy, laughter and memories for the birthday boy and 10 to 15 young guests.
Unfortunately, most of the mommy tasks don’t fit so well into the corporate personnel analysis model and I’m left wondering if I’m doing enough, well enough. The fact of the matter is, who would be qualified to judge this job I’m doing anyway?
I know this is a circular problem. There are no answers. There are no yearly reviews to fall back on. There are only the day-to-day challenges. There are only the highs and the lows.
Then there are the raspberries that Peanut blew on Pumpkin’s chunky baby cheeks this evening until they both dissolved into wet, sloppy giggles.
That’s when I remember that I chose this. This life. This job. This this. This stay-at-homeness. My choice. For my family.