Sometimes, I feel like there are a few versions of myself. Stay with me here. I am not talking about multiple identities. Well, actually, maybe I am.
Every morning (or sometimes in the middle of the night thanks to a certain 3 year old who still hates sleep), I wake up as Mom. And I love being Mom. OK, maybe not always at 2 a.m., but still, Mom is by far my favorite title.
Even when I want to hit snooze five more times (after already hitting it twice), I actually enjoy getting up to wake my babies. There might be a tiny bit of satisfaction in the payback of interrupting their sleep. Ha! But truly, seeing their sweet faces and hearing their tiny voices first thing in the morning starts my day off right.
Carried over from the night before, my mom side already has their clothes out. On the days where they actually get up, get dressed, go potty, brush their teeth and put on their shoes, my heart feels such a sense of accomplishment. And maybe those days are rare, but we are working on that. Besides, this mom likes to feel needed a little bit from time to time, even when I am trying to instill responsibility.
Once the girls are out the door for the day, though, I quickly put on my career woman hat. Notice, I don’t change my hat — just put it over the top. Because the mom hat never actually comes off. Sure, it is quieted by meetings, conference calls, emails and work family, but there are always times throughout the day when I glance at the clock and wonder what my babies are doing at that second.
Yet, at work, I am a different me. I am not known as the boo-boo-kissing, snack-giving, bedtime-snuggling, butt-wiping, I-love-you whispering woman. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I don’t pour my heart out to my poor peers about my mommy tasks, but I’m pretty sure that doing them at work would be highly frowned upon. Which gives me a daily escape — if even only for moments at a time — to be just me.
And it is quantifiably freeing to be seen as a person — as just me — at work. Oh, I love the title of Maylie and Reagan’s mom, but it is so liberating to be able to show up without sticky handprints on the side of my pants and overcome challenges that may or may not exceed the difficulty of bedtime.
When I am wearing my mom hat, all tasks are kid oriented. Don’t forget to send money for the book fair. Don’t forget to have her pick out something that starts with the letter “D” for show and tell. Don’t forget to pack the dance bag, the gymnastics bag, the soccer bag. Don’t forget her lunch. Don’t forget to bathe them. (Wait, that never happens.)
Even though I signed up for these things when I decided I wanted to be a mom, and I truly am happy taking care of my expectantly needy babies, it is so rewarding to be looked at, relied upon, differently.
It’s having a purpose for me. It’s being a woman in this career world and looked at equally — even if I cannot be to work early because I needed to get my daughter on the bus. It does not matter. I can strive toward targets and pursue opportunities that better myself, and in turn, my family. Because ultimately, that is the goal. Fortunately, I get the satisfaction of filling my own bucket of self-identity while doing so.
And then, I get to come home to smiling, snotty faces (because, let’s face it, schools are full of germs) and hang that career hat back up. I get to experience dinner, baths and prayers at bedtime. Before my sweet girls fall asleep, I am the last thing they see.
At times, being a full-time working mama is beyond stressful, overwhelms me with guilt and drives me to points of complete exhaustion. But, I am so thankful that, as the day begins, I am called Mom, and when the day ends, I am called Mom. Because holding that title is by far one of the most rewarding identities that I have experienced.
However, I also know that one day my littles won’t need me quite as much — they too will go out and find their identities in this world. And while I long for the moments of my girls’ lives that I am inadvertently missing, I will continue to feed off of my time at work that allows me to seek my own identity and in turn strengthen my own self-worth.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.