My daughter has a toy similar to this. My husband and I called it the “toy from hell” from about ages 12mo-24mo because Eleanora would SCREAM and throw tantrums when she couldn’t get the shapes to fit into the hole she wanted them to fit into. She would get so frustrated. She was such a good baby but this toy brought out the evil deep inside. When she would finally get one right she would smile so big and clap her hands and then go right back into anger with the next shape.
One morning, I was sitting at home by myself in my happy place. Doing things I love doing while someone else played with my daughter. Someone whose greatest joy comes from raising small children. They have so much fun together. In that moment I realized, we found the right shapes for the right holes.
For two years I lived in guilt, guilt that I was supposed to have a desire in me to be a stay at home mom. I was supposed to feel guilty about working.
Here I am filing taxes, editing images, replying to emails, writing a blog post, and holding 4 meetings today. And I couldn’t be happier. This morning I made breakfast with Eleanora, watched her push her baby doll around in a stroller while I got everything ready for the day, and cuddled with her in bed. Tonight I’ll laugh and play with her, make bubbles in the bathtub and snuggle with her to fall asleep. And there is nothing to feel guilty about. Everyone is experiencing joy all day long today and that’s a great thing.
I want to send a message to my former self, the mom of that six month old. You absolutely, positively, DO NOT have to do it all. Go. Get. Help. You are suffering unnecessarily. There is a reason moms who work outside of the home drop their kids off at daycare….their bosses want them to focus on work. You thrive when you’re doing what you love, which is (cover your ears) NOT playing toddler games and changing diapers. Go reclaim your identity as SOPHIA, not as Eleanora’s mom. Staying at home full time does not make you mom of the year. It makes you crazy.
Now Eleanora is three years old and in full time child care. She is thriving, and I am too. Now, I actually enjoy playing games with her. I enjoy putting my phone away for the evening and being present with my family, not throwing her on my husband and wanting to spend the evening getting my work done while she begs for my attention and my husband struggles to un-cling her from me.
I resisted living with a regimented schedule for so long, but now I am, and we’re doing so much better. I block off my work time, my family time, my ME time, and I’m not stressed. When I leave the work unfinished I say “no problem. I’ll take care of it Monday morning when I’m home by myself and can focus again.” And I throw my 100% attention into my family and their needs.
If we have future children, I won’t be staying at home again. And I don’t feel any guilt about it. I thrive when I can live my entrepreneur and philanthropic dreams, and I NEED to pour myself into them.
If you look at this toy you will see there are different shapes. We need to honor and respect each. We need stay at home moms and dads. We need women owning it and transforming the business community. We need women who are somewhere in between. What we need more than anything else is for everyone to get really honest with themselves about who is inside. Are you being your truest self or is there someone screaming to get out? Do you feel you have aligned your life with your gifts or are you a square beg forcing yourself into a round hole?
If you are where I was, move. Go find the square hole. It will make room for the circle to use her or his gifts.
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