Friday, April 19, 2013

How being a broke ass stay at home mom has changed my life...

I knew when we had a baby, that duh, we wouldn't have as much extra cash lying around. I also did the math and knew that being a stay at home mom means you don't earn any money. But I guess I never really, really thought about how much this would affect my life, and in turn, my identity.

This post really isn't about money. Thomas and I have a decent house, and we don't go hungry, and we can still afford to pay for HBO and DVR. So if you're already like shut up you dumb ho... just stick with me, because seriously, it's not about money. It's about how money has recently shined a gigantic spotlight on a few intangible sacrifices of being a mom. It's about how when it's suddenly not about you anymore, your place in the world gets slightly confusing.

When I was younger, I put a lot of effort into achievement. It was extremely important to me that people thought I was intelligent and successful. When I was working, I wanted people to see that I knew my shit. Not only that I could work hard and do a good job, but that I had good taste and was extremely educated in things like fashion history and textile science. So now that I am a mom, I don't have a job to exercise my love for retail, and as a result of that, I can't even express that love through how I dress.

I really don't consider myself a shallow person. I feel that I have a lot of depth and character. But this whole adjustment is making me realize just how much I like THINGS. Especially when it comes to clothes, it is really hard for me to walk away from something I love. As a person with a fashion retailing degree, and someone who was a buyer, seeing great clothes and new trends EXCITES me. Like I get butterflies in my stomach. It's the same way an art teacher could appreciate painting and sculpture so much more deeply than I ever could. But the thing about it is, the best way to interact with fashion it is to wear it. When a new idea emerges, for example pointed flats, I want to participate in it. I want to endorse it and give it my patronage. But for now, I bottom line can't afford it... and it makes my life feel so different. Setting aside a passion that you love is hard. Not shopping honestly feels like a loss to my authentic self.

Of course, I still am smart and love to wear awesome clothes, but that's no longer immediately obvious to the external world. My job now is to be as good of a mom as possible, and unfortunately there is no sort of achievement scale to be measured against or ladder to climb. There is no standardized test for parenting that I could potentially get an awesome score on. I am sure it says something bad about me that I require formal evaluation to feel like I have achieved something. Or that I crave approval so badly. But when it's just you and your baby all day, how do you know that you are just soooo good at playing with stacked cups? Or that you are awesome at washing bottles or giving baths or feeding them applesauce?

Sometimes I just hug Henry and whisper in his ear that I hope he thinks I am a good mommy. Or that I hope he understands just a little bit that I'm trying really hard.

There is definitely some good that comes out of being stripped of a lot of your identity. In all honesty, I've had to focus a lot more on who I really am and how I can be better at connecting with people. I have always considered myself a nice and friendly girl, but I didn't put a whole lot of thought into how much other people would agree with that. When I meet someone for the first time now, I don't have a job to small talk about, so I better at least be likable, right? Writing that I am trying to be more likable kind of feels like the dumbest thing ever, but it's very real for me at the moment. Don't get me wrong, any recent increase in my amicability is genuine. I'm not faking it, I've just focused on letting that part of my personality shine a little brighter.

As much as I would still jump at the chance to buy something new or spend any extra cash I have lying around, I very much appreciate the introspection being a mom and having no money has given me. I now know how much I was relying on my laurels, and even my clothes, to speak for me. And I am learning how to really be myself versus a walking resume. At the age 27, the following statement is somewhat embarrassing, but I guess I am just now finally understanding how much better it feels for someone to like you rather than be impressed by you.


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