I wasn't positive that I could be a stay at home mom and be a good mom. All those hours with the kids...would I survive, would they survive? Would I damage them forever? I was so terrified of what would happen to them and also terrified that I would lose part of myself. Could I really function without working? I had convinced myself that working made me a better mom because I treasured the time I had with my kids more than taking it for granted. I wasn't made to be a stay at home mom. As I continued working and having kids, I sacrificed so many other aspects of my life to do work and raise 3 kids. Both were all time consuming! I neglected friendships, gave up on running, photography decreased, rarely went out and even sacrificed my marriage to some extent. Jason and my relationship revolved around the kids and work. I don't even want to admit how stressed I was or I think 90% of our conversations were focused on these two things. I don't even want to admit how stressed out I was or how much I weighed! My belief in myself and being successful was wrapped up into those two aspects, mom and work. Honestly, I completely lost focus of the big picture.
I knew that my life was not what I wanted when Jason had the opportunity to move to London. I needed to move away and really examine the person I was and what are my priorities. The sad part is that it took such a huge change to make me really examine myself. I feel like I got to move to London and hit the reset button. Or maybe this is just called a midlife crisis?!??!
I didn't change overnight and not working was really tough at first. There were many evenings that I sat at the computer for hours looking for jobs. I still felt lost and had lots of self doubt. Who am I and who am I suppose to be? I would be awful with the kids and so frustrated with them. I was on them constantly about the million things that they did wrong. They were probably wishing I was going back to work.
I set unrealistic goals for myself and put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself. I channeled all my energy and the need for work into projects. The house was a project and the kids were a project and finding activities for everyone was a project. I blew up these small tasks into huge projects that needed to be completed and took lots of time. I think I redid every room in the house 3 times before I was satisfied. Jason still comes home and things have been moved around because I found another project! As I started to realize this need, I was able to start slowing myself down and learning to take in the moment. Taryn really taught me to stop and let's go explore. She would have tough days at school and would come home and say, "Mom, let's go do something new." I started appreciating all the new experiences and really soaking in the moments. I love this picture and it reminds me to take the time to enjoy what is around you!
My dad started pushing me to think about what are you doing for yourself. I would give answers about the house or the kids or something vague and he would say ok but what are you really doing for yourself. This question stayed with me and I really started thinking about it. I began running again and wow it felt good. I hadn't realized how much I missed it! The kids love running too! We did the Westminster Family Mile Run and Taryn ran the 5k Color Run with us. Jillian wants to run all the time! I have ran a couple of 5ks and just signed up for my first 10k in November. My new goal is to run a half marathon before I turn 40.
I then went to breakfast with a friend who had also became a stay at home mom when they moved to London. We sat at breakfast for hours brainstorming ideas of what could we do for ourselves. We then came up with a brilliant idea, let's look into wine classes. We found the West London School of Wine and its amazing! I love my wine class nights. Also, the kids encourage me to go to wine class especially Sebastian. Every so often, he asks me when will I be going to my next wine class.
I also have been learning to cook - mostly self taught. I have been buying cook books, using pintrest, and cooking things that I never thought I would. I don't do anything fancy but I'm starting to really enjoy it. The kids love helping too. They pull up the stool and we make dinner together most nights or they love playing in the garden while I cook so they can keep an eye on what I am doing.
I believe that now I have a real relationship with my children that has good parts and bad parts. Each relationship is different and I love how uniqueness of each child. I have gotten to know them more as individuals and we have developed different types of relationships. I admire Taryn's tenacity but we struggle with communication. She is so much like Jason! Sebastian makes me laugh and he loves to try to get me to laugh while he is getting into trouble which totally annoys me. He is so much like me that we just click! Jillian and I have a very dynamic relationship that changes from day to day. She probably pushes me more than my other two combined. I love going on outings with her as she learns new things and wants to understand everything. I hate the tantrums and I remind myself daily that its a phase! I love the pictures below that capture my relationships with the kids.
The good is great but there is the bad too. When I was working, it was so much easier to be good for the few hours a week that I spent with them and hide the bad. Now that we are together all the time, it is harder to hide the bad and the true me is on full display for my kids. We also call each other out when our behavior is not very flattering or proper since we are in England. My children see me at my best and see me at my worst and vice versa. At first I wanted to hide my worst from them, but I have come to realize its how I handle the aftermath of my worst that is the teaching moment for the kids. I apologize for losing my temper or I apologize for the mean words I said. I tell them how I am going to change so that it won't happen in the future. I hate admitting when I am wrong, but it is a skill that I know will help them in the future so I try to hard to demonstrate it. It has made me such a better person to apologize and correct my behavior just as I expect them to do the same.
Then at the end of the day we love each other for who we are regardless of our strengths or our weaknesses or our best or our worst. We are a family and we will always love each other and continue to develop our relationship. We push each other to be better versions of ourselves and we encourage each other to pursue our interests. We cheer each other one and encourage each other to go explore new things. Please, don't misunderstand this, I'm not friends with my kids but I am continuously teaching them with my actions and continue to develop a relationship with them. I teach them with words and punishments as well. The more I can be an example for them, I am hoping the more they will learn and it will make them better people in the future.
Over the last year and going from a working mom to a stay at home mom, I have learned a lot about being a friend and developing friendships. I am developing deeper relationships that aren't superficial and make time for friends. I am being built up by people that help me be a better mom, who encourage me when I get frustrated, who understand the type of person and mom that I want to be. I listen to my friends and admit to them when I need help and truly appreciate their advice. I try hard to be the same for them. To take the time be there for them when they need me or send a text to encourage them. I tell my friends how much I admire them or how inspirational they are to me. I want my friends to know how I feel about them. Before I was so quick to dismiss my friends and think that i don't have time for these conversations. I wouldn't tell them how I felt or spend the time to encourage them. I felt like I had nothing to give them. I don't have time to share who I am or to learn who they were. I also wasn't sure that I want them to see who I am. I treasure my old friends who have put up with me at my worst and appreciate the new relationships that we are developing. I love my new friendships who get to experience the new me. I am honest with myself and others about who I am which is what friendship is really about.
I still have lots of self doubt and I am always comparing myself to others. I still feel that I fall short as a mom and as a wife and as friend. I beat myself up at the end of the day for all the should have moments. I want to be the type of person that has an impact on my friends and families lives. The type of person that can be relied on and is always honest with everyone. The type of person who is not self absorbed or solely focused on my success but is excited by other's successes. I want to be the type of person who enjoys the little moments and treasures memories being made. I want to reflect on the day and constantly improve myself instead of beating myself up. I want to be confident in who I am and proud of who I am. I want to be an example for my kids and I want them to see a person that they want to be when they grow up. I am continuously working on me and I truly appreciate each of my friends who goes on this journey with me, you have no idea how much I need you!