We Can Do Hard Things

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If I sit really quiet and still, I can almost remember how it felt to rock my three sweet baby boys. I can recall what it was like to feed them their bottles, burp them, to then be spit up on, and snuggle them so much my heart could burst. I can feel the top of their soft fuzzy heads nestled against my chin as I sang, “You are my sunshine” while in my ear they quietly squeaked and cooed. With their tiny feet covered in footed fleece pajamas and them swaddled safely in my arms, they would slowly begin to drift off to sleep…

It was an exhausting yet delicious time.

Life is different now. There is no rocking, only fighting over couches and recliners to get the best view for video games and movie nights. The bottles were long ago replaced by pizza, hot dogs, burgers, and all the snacks Costco can provide. They pretty much beg me not to sing, and most nights over the summer, they could have stayed up later than me. Every now and then my youngest still shows up in zip-up pajamas, but honestly, he looks a bit ridiculous, AND they are super annoying to fold when their legs are almost as long as yours.

When your babes are little, everyone in your cheering section is eager to point out the quickness of time. Sadly, they’re so right.

My boys, however, aren’t so little anymore. My oldest will tower over most of the other freshman as he walks the high school hallways, my middle guy points out almost EVERY DAY we’re nearly eye-to-eye, and, just yesterday, the ophthalmologist referred to my youngest as a miniature adult (at least three times). Dramatic sigh. I don’t have them filling out their college applications yet, but this does feel like a transition year; the beginning of a different kind of chapter…for all of us.

For 14.5 years, I have been a stay-at-home mom. Saying it out loud feels like a mad confession. I have been the go-to parent, the playdate coordinator, the chauffeur, the family organizer, the teacher e-mailer, the primary chef, the on-call nurse (which is ironic because my husband is an actual nurse), the grocery shopper, the preferred tucker-inner, and, who’s kidding whom, the one in charge.

I know there are many moms rolling their eyes reading this thinking, “I work full-time and do all that, too!” You’re right, and I have nothing but crazy respect; I don’t know how you do it! You must be exhausted. ALL. THE. TIME. But please, hear me out.

For me, this has been my only job. Momming is my safe place. Since the moment my first was born, it’s all I’ve known. I think (so far) I’ve done it well, but I suppose in time we will know for sure. But like we teach our children, sometimes change is good. We must step out of our comfort zones and try something new. As Virginia Woolf once wrote, “A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.”

Enter this old SAHM…

After much discussion, we decided it was time for me to get a part-time gig. Growing kids mean growing budgets, and money has yet to fall from the sky (wouldn’t that be great though?). Full disclosure, I’m ready. Yes, I said it. I’m ready for a chance to have something that’s all mine. I want to be out in the world during the day, and maybe not think about what I need from the store…maybe. It’s crazy to admit this, but I’m also ready to dread Monday mornings and enjoy the traffic and hot coffee that comes with them. Such a newbie, I know.

So, I put on my big girl panties, shushed all the voices in my head, and figured out a thing that will work for me and my family. Like a real grown up, I went through the process and got a JOB. The real catch is, I’m trying something totally new. For some odd reason, 43 feels like a great time to reinvent the wheel. I’m both super excited and dreadfully terrified. Years of being home with kids slowly strips away the confidence to believe you can do such a thing, and LOOK AT ME!

I tell you this not for a pat on the back or a “Good for you!” but for a different reason. No matter your place in this overwhelming, unpredictable, rewarding, and ever-changing thing called motherhood, you will trudge over, under, and through all life throws at you. You will continue to grow and change throughout the journey (so I’m learning anyway).

Embrace it. Live it. Own it.

Receiving an employment welcome letter felt very official. It was e-mailed proof that my babies weren’t babies anymore. I couldn’t help but recall those early years when the night’s darkest hours felt like they would never end. It appeared all that was awake were me and this tiny, helpless, and adorable little human I loved more than anything else in the world. Until the next one…and then the next one.

It was also proof that I am capable. It reminded me that all the amazing things I am contributing inside my home, I can contribute outside, too. Self-doubt is a constant battle and us mamas need to cut it out! Whether we punch a clock or not, we need to ALWAYS remember we are fierce, courageous, passionate, and a force to be reckoned with. We did grow people after all. Any employer, or little one being rocked through the night, is lucky to have us.

The baby days are far behind us. Thankfully, in our story, there is so much ahead and waiting right around the corner. I seriously can’t wait. I got this. I think.

…AND, who’s kidding whom? I’ll always be the go-to parent.

My new favorite sign from my mom to remind me I do got this!

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