I have recently become a stay at home parent and I've been feeling a bit lost. I love my family and I am thankful for the opportunity to spend this time with my children but I am having an identity crisis.
I'm not a very self disciplined person. I function best with clear guidelines, rubrics, and deadlines. I procrastinate, A LOT, but I can turn in a quality product on time. If it is a topic that I am enthusiastic about, I jump in with both feet and run full throttle through the finish line. When I was a full time college student, I could measure my progress, my success, by my GPA and I excelled. In the military, performance feedbacks, checkrides and other formal methods of appraisal were my measure and I did well there too.
How do I determine if I am doing a good job as a wife, mother and homemaker? What is my gauge of success?
I have visions in my head of the perfect home: freshly vacuumed carpets, dust free, sparkling bathrooms, fabulous gourmet meal in the oven and something hellishly sweet (made from scratch) for dessert. Immaculately dressed and well behaved children sharing toys and laughing in their bedroom. My husband, handsome and strong, walking in the door with flowers. Me in a pretty dress, pearls, and perfectly coiffed. In my imagination, I'm a lot like Bree Van de Kamp, only nicer and not as anal.
The reality is, well... not as glamorous. There is so much cereal ground into my carpet sometimes it sounds like walking on bubble wrap. The layer of dust on every horizontal surface acts as a protective coating and the bathrooms, well.... let's not go there. I won't complain too much about the gourmet meal because I do enjoy cooking a little and I usually can whip up something relatively healthy and edible. Dessert consists of an ice cream sandwich or a cup of hot chocolate, not quite homemade and hellishly sweet, but I'll take it. The kids can be found running around barefoot and shirtless with their hair sticking up in wild cow-licks like long haired guinea pigs. On motivated days, I brush my hair, teeth and put on a bra. A really motivated day will entail a shower before noon and a fresh pair of sweats. My husband, bless his soul, is handsome and strong, but hasn't sent flowers in over 2 years.
When I was working full time and as a "single" parent (military separation), it was so easy to let the laundry pile up until the weekend. I became a master at 1 dish meals in less than 20 minutes. No friend of the earth, I shamelessly used paper plates, plastic silverware and disposable cups - anything that meant I didn't have to do as many dishes. I got to the gym nearly 5 days a week and did fun things with the kiddos. I visited with friends and even planned a community event with a parade, dinner and overnight party for 500 people.
I was always going, going, going and yet, I am more tired now, than ever.
I don't think I'm depressed. I had pretty intense postpartum depression after the birth of my first child and I don't feel anything like that now. I'm more melancholy than sad. I waste a lot of time, doing nothing of real significance even though there is plenty I should be doing. I spend too much time on the internet, checking and rechecking my email, facebook and favorite forums. I just feel lost. Who am I now?
Playing Legos, mixing up chocolate milk sippy cups and snuggling is FANTASTIC and I love it. I don't regret any second I spend on the couch watching and re-watching Cars or Monsters Inc with my little men. I just need to find the balance of maid, mother and me.
I'm not very good at housekeeping, I admit it. I despise dishes, laundry and anything that involves scrubbing. I just wish I didn't feel like I'm failing because I don't pursue these activities with enthusiasm.
I'm open to advice and would love to hear how others do it. How do you do it? Quality time, cleaning, cooking & everything else.