Sometimes our minds need time to process our realities, even when our reality is obvious to everyone else. No amount of lecture or explanation will help us to see something until we’re ready to see it for ourselves.
That’s why it’s possible to be the last one to know you’re in love with that guy you’ve been hanging out with. And when you finally admit it, everyone in your life is like, Duh we’ve known that for months.
It’s why when you finally admit it’s time for you to quit your job or change majors or start something new, often times people in your life just nod their head knowingly, relieved you’ve finally realized what they’ve known for months.
Several years ago, I was that person who didn’t realize something that seemed obvious to everyone else.
I had already written two books and was working on my third before I finally realized, Oh. I’m a working mom.
I still remember the moment it happened. I walked up the hill to our house after taking the girls to school, considering all the things I had to do that day.
Several things were normal house-y things: grocery, laundry, dishes, call the tree guy, price the yard sale stuff.
Other things were work-type things: finish those photo edits, turn in that thing my publisher asked for, write that article, prepare a post.
I could feel my heart rhythm speed up as I picked up the pace to the front door. My breathing got a little bit more shallow than it had been, my craving for coffee shot through the roof.
When I begin to feel the weight of this pressure, I become the opposite of productive. That morning in particular I had been feeling this weight more than usual.
I would do things like wash a load of towels, and then forget about them until the next morning when I would have to wash the same load again because hello, they stink now.
In short, I was stretched too thin and didn’t fully know why.
It wasn’t until that moment when I was loading the dishwasher while I was also planning out an email response in my head that I heard this phrase ping light a lightbulb: Emily, you have a job.
I know it sounds crazy to not know that, but when you work from home, you can believe the illusion for a long time that you are a stay-at-home mom.
It was especially tricky because when I agreed to write a book and partner with a publisher, it didn’t feel like a job in the way my past jobs felt like jobs because I didn’t go to an office, meet with HR, or have to clock in or out.
I didn’t have workmates or a cubicle or paid time off. I didn’t even have a boss, not really.
The lines between home and work were hard to see and I was the one who had to draw them. At that time, I wasn’t drawing them well simply because I didn’t realize I needed to.
The result for me was frustration, overwhelm, and the feeling that I was trying to do everything but not doing any of it well.
On a good day, I could only do most of it by half.
Admitting I had a job required a bit of grieving for me personally. Looking back, I never planned to start working when I did. I just did the next right thing and each of those next-right-things ended up leading to several book contracts.
Those book contracts were a gift and the income I’ve been able to generate mostly from home has blessed our family.
But even good things come with shadows, and I’m learning to hold both the gifts as well as the burdens. For me, admitting I had a job was an obvious important first step. And it was that first step that led to some much needed freedom for me.
After that, my conversations with John changed. The way I looked at our schedule changed. And most importantly, I became kinder toward myself, realizing the only person who expected me to do “it all” was me.
Motherhood is a sacred work all by itself. For those of us who have another job on top of the full time work of mothering, we have to be vigilant about the shame and expectations we might be carrying around.
We have good work to do with our jobs as mothers, writers, teachers, bankers, doctors, accountants, and friends. If you’d need some help or perspective to do your good work better, my dear friend Jessica Turner is a mom who knows about work and life integration more than just about anyone. And she’s created an online course for us at a fantastic price, especially if you’re like I was and feeling stretched too thin.
Check out Stretched Too Thin right here and don’t miss the bundle of lovely bonuses available as well. *These links are affiliate links and I’m pleased to partner with Jessica as she supports working moms in this way.