The Transformation of the Daytimer for a Stay at Home Mother
Published: January 17, 2006
As a working woman who was trying very hard to propel her way to the top of her company, the day timer was my bible. Every half hour in the day was methodically mapped out for me, and my watch was my essential time keeper, reminding me of those precious seconds that were ticking by. I ate fast, I walked fast and I talked fast all in the name of efficiency.
As a stay at home mom of a four month old daughter and a three year old son, my day timer is now buried amongst papers in the bottom drawer of my kitchen and it is dated 2004. Minutes and hours have become irrelevant as the days are now dictated to me by my children. If they only want to sit around and play for three hours in the morning instead of going for that walk I had planned in my mind the day before, then I have to accommodate that and forgo the walk.
Children don’t have any concept of time, so you can’t force your children into anything, and you can’t rush them either. In fact, if my son figures out that I am trying to hurry him to do something he will purposefully slow himself down even more. He’s been known to actually take an hour to put on a pair of pants. Of course, this is more to do with control issues with a three year old, but that is a whole other topic.
The only thing I can do is pencil in a play date or a doctor’s appointment on the calendar. It is in pencil in case something unplanned comes up like my daughter spits up her entire breakfast on me, her new outfit and the couch, or my son decides that he is simply just not in the mood for it. Funny – those excuses never quite worked in my life before, but they are everyday realities as a stay at home mom. “Sorry Debbie, we can’t do a play date today, my son has decided that he would rather watch Bob the Builder today then play with your son, thanks for understanding.” And I don’t own a watch anymore either. I haven’t seen my favorite one that was once near and dear to me for quite sometime.
I remember one time sitting with my son, who was then about a month old, mentally picturing what I would be doing at that time of the morning if I was still at work. Ok, I would be at Starbucks right now getting my Americano with cream and then I would be heading over to the office to check my emails and then I would be checking my day timer…..and as I sat and watched Baby Einstein for the third time that morning trying to pacify my son, I realized with absolute certainty, this was the worst jobs I’d ever had in my life. And there was no one patting me on the back for it either.
But it does get easier, I promise. It takes time to change our way of thinking and let go of the way we viewed the world, and who we were before our children. And on those days that I dwelled on what I would have been doing at work, I would indulge myself. It’s ok to remember what it was like without the children – let’s face it, it was simpler.
My husband and I could do pretty much anything we wanted to do on impulse pre children. We could work until six or seven at night, have dinner around 9:00 with a nice bottle of wine, and then partake in a nice, unrushed, romantic encounter – anywhere in the house. And then there is the sleeping in on weekends…. sigh….see? I was just indulging myself right there….pre children lifestyle. But it doesn’t mean I don’t love the here and now…it’s just a different time in my life to remember. And I still can indulge in all of that stuff that I mentioned above right now, it’s just that it has to be planned in advance, and those plans have to be flexible around the children (remember its in pencil).
It wasn’t as if one day I woke up and found out that I had a family. My children were planned and very much wanted. But through the day dreaming of a life once lived, what I discovered was that I was gaining perspective in my life. And my perspective revealed that I had allowed my identity to somehow get wrapped up in my career. And I think there is a good chunk of the population who do that. If we aren’t “Kate the Senior Accountant, or “Samantha the Communications Manager”, then who were we?
The truth is; I don’t think many of us really know. We go about our lives working our hardest to be the best in our careers, giving it our all, but what happens to many of us is that we get our very sense of existence intermingled with it. But we are so much more than just our jobs.
What I had to do was to take a look at the different sides of who I was. I wasn’t just the woman with the great career – I was a mother, I was a wife, I was a daughter, I was a sister, I was a friend, and I was also, just simply, me.
Also, I no longer had the outside influences that made me feel that I was less of a person if I didn’t have my career. If you surround yourself with single or childless people, then all you have is their perspective on life. And in my career at that time, there were a lot of them, all eager to dispense their unwanted advice to me. They believed that I had made a huge mistake in my life by having a child. I would lose my drive and ambition and then what? According to them, it was all downhill from there. Who wanted to be just a stay at home mom?
What I needed to do what find other like minded people who were experiencing the very same things I was experiencing when I left my career. So I joined play groups during the day with my son. I made an effort to talk to other mothers I would see around town. And this was tough for me. Despite being a very successful woman in my career, I was extremely shy and unsure of myself when it came to meeting other women. But I persevered, as I really wanted to feel part of a community. I didn’t like feeling isolated or that I was the only one out there at home with the children. I made contacts with other new mothers wherever I could. I emailed, hosted play dates and in doing so, gained a different sense of self.
Being at home allowed me time to reflect on my life and see that there were other possibilities in my life than just my career. And I know there are many women out there who will argue with me about it being unfair for women to have to make the choice and not a man, and while I do understand what they are saying – I’m afraid that biologically that’s just the way it is. And I don’t resent it either. I love the fact that I was the one who brought my son into this world and that I am blessed enough to be the one to be with him throughout his life to see him grow up and develop into a man. And now I also get to do that with my daughter.
My contribution in my household is every bit as important as it once was in the work force in fact; it far exceeds any monetary contribution I once made. I am my children’s teacher and I am their friend. I am there for their “firsts” and I am the one who can console all their fears. Time alone at home with my children has not only transformed my day timer into a paper weight, but it has amazingly transformed me into a much more tolerant, patient and loving person.
I had worked so hard and had given up so much of my time for my career, as I believed it would give me a sense of pride. And it did. But I have to admit, as sappy as it might sound, it never truly compares to the feeling I have when I look at my daughter or my son. Those are my true accomplishments, and I believe that like anything I have done in my life, they deserve one hundred per cent of my best. And that means being there all the time.
If my career has taught me anything, it was that if you are going to be the best there is out there and make a difference then you must be willing to invest the time and effort it takes to be a success. And what I want more than anything in my life right now is to be a successful mom. My career will always be there to go back to if I choose down the road, but my son and daughter’s childhood is a one time thing.
As a stay at home mom, you are giving the most precious gift to your children - your time to be with them. And if they get out for that walk or not that you planned, it’s ok. And if you don’t get the beds made or dishes put away that’s ok too. Remember there are no deadlines in your life anymore, just the simple expectation that you are there in your children’s world each day, with all the time in the world for them.