When I was young I wanted three children- two girls and one boy. This was my dream family.
Then life happened, and nothing turned out the way I expected. My first daughter was born with a genetic disorder called SYNGAP-1 which causes learning disability and seizure disorder among many other difficulties. It’s a spontaneous gene mutation that’s pretty rare and not inherited from the parents so you can only imagine our shock and sadness.
Her disability was a difficult pill to swallow and it took me many years of struggling through guilt, loss and sadness to find balance again. You can read more about my journey as a special needs parent here.
As I was dealing with and learning about my first daughter’s special needs, I discovered I was pregnant with a second child. I was happy, but everything felt so overwhelming and new. To make matters worse, I wasn’t equipped with the right tools or support system to get myself through this new kind of motherhood, one that is filled with blood tests, therapies and guilt…tremendous guilt.
Even as I prepared myself to be a mother of two, to wake up every morning with gratitude and joy in my heart, life had more challenges awaiting me.
Three months after the birth of my second daughter, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and prescribed anti-depressants. This was my first time taking meds and I felt like a failure. Even as I told myself this is for myself as well as my family, guilt and shame deepened and I retreated further into my corner. I told no one about what I was going through and just wrote in my journal. You can read more about my journey through postpartum depression here.
Fast forward 10 years– I’m now a mother of three, two girls and one boy. I’ve created my dream family even though my life was far from a dream. As I begin my second year as a mother of three, I’d like to take this time to share three important life lessons I learned through motherhood.
I’m now a mother of three, two girls and one boy. I’ve created my dream family even though my life was far from a dream.
I share my story with hope that it can help other another mother out there so she doesn’t struggle like I did.
1. Figure out what kind of mother you are
Did anyone tell you there are different types of mothers in this world? If so, you’re lucky- because I actually had to learn this the hard way. Being a mother unites us in similar struggles, but we all mother differently because we all come from different cultures, backgrounds and philosophies. We all have different goals and dreams, and the way we deal with stress can vary greatly.
The first thing you should do as a new mother is to figure out what kind of mother you are. Are you happier when you’re working outside of the home? Are you a better stay-at-home-mom? Or would you like to mix it up, working part time and staying home part time?
Try to figure out what kind of mother you are. Are you happier when you’re working outside of the home? Are you a better stay-at-home-mom? Or would you like to mix it up, working part time and staying home part time?
Millennial parenting is different, and it allows for more flexibility, openness and innovation. Figure out what kind of mother you are and what makes you most happy and comfortable. Then figure out how you can achieve that goal. Follow through your plans and make necessary adjustments.
I know it’s not easy and life doesn’t always allow the luxury to choose. But it’s doable and life is all about making changes and new adjustments. Don’t get too comfortable in a position you’re not truly happy in and don’t think you’re ever stuck. There are ways to be happier so find that path. Stay focused, avoid making excuses and don’t think you can’t. Yes you can. You owe your kids the best version of you. You can do it.
2. Don’t engage in the working mom vs SAHM debate.
Why? Because it’s a pointless debate and both are f*cking hard.
When working moms ask me questions like “so, what do you do at home everyday?” I wanted to tell them how insensitive and thoughtless this question is. I should’ve, but I didn’t have the energy or the time to process my thoughts because I was drowning in the never-ending demands of SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) life.
If you spend even one full month at home with young kids, you’ll know that SAHM’s aren’t just lucky to be home. Their job begins early in the morning and doesn’t end until their last child is in bed. Then they have to finish up the dishes, pick up the mess their children made all day and plan meals for the next day. They have to give up their careers, ambitions and passions. They do a lot, and working moms should never judge a SAHM and ask them insensitive questions like this.
If you’re a working mom and you really don’t understand what a SAHM does at home all day, consider yourself lucky.
On a similar note, working moms have it hard too. They don’t have the luxury of staying in pajamas all day and playing legos with their kids. Yes this gets old fast, but for working moms this is a dream. Working moms have to balance the needs of their work, husband and kids and work overtime to keep the household running smoothly. Working moms sometimes have to drop off their sick kids at daycare and cry on their way to work. Working moms have to miss many school activities and performances and feel immense amount of guilt. Working moms have to sit in traffic for hours, come home exhausted, then start again because they have to make up for the hours missed with their children. Weekends fly by too fast and Monday comes too soon.
Don’t ever judge a working mom because they have it hard, usually harder than their male counterpart.
See why this debate is pointless? Instead of engaging in a debate, just empathize, listen and love. And maybe share a bottle of wine, tell old stories and laugh together.
Instead of engaging in a debate, just empathize, listen and love. And maybe share a bottle of wine, tell old stories and laugh together.
The need to judge, argue and debate comes from our own unhappiness. Trust me, I’ve been there.
3. Ask for help and don’t feel guilty about it
It took me two children, a bout of postpartum depression and a troubled marriage to figure out that I NEED HELP, especially when I found myself pregnant with my third child.
Once my two daughters went to school full-time, life became more manageable. I finally had the time to clean, prepare meals, drink warm coffee, take a shower if I need to, have lunch with friends, run errands without stuffing two screaming kids into carseats, etc. Life felt glorious and I was a winner. I overcame the biggest hurdle in motherhood (this was a foolish thought because #tweens are like toddlers with more drama) and I was finally BALANCED.
Then when another child came into the picture I knew had to make adjustments. I knew there were things I couldn’t give up, like running this mom blog, working on personal projects and maintaining a clean house because mess stresses me out even more.
But how can I achieve all these things while raising three kids, working on my writing career and managing a household?
I knew I couldn’t do it all so I finally decided to outsource which was the best decision I made for myself and my sanity. I went through a few nannies and finally found another mom just like me- another mom who loves to work AND spend time with children. I also get help with deep cleaning because I just can’t find the time and motivation to get on my knees and scrub the bathtub. I did it for ten years, I think now I can ask for help.
Even though we have less money to save and spend on other things, this was the wisest decision because I finally found the work/family life balance I’ve been seeking for for the past ten years.
Plus the added cost to our household spendings motivates me to work harder and not waste my time. I now know the value of my alone time as well as time spent with my kids.
Any successful mom boss will tell you that OUTSOURCING is the key to achieving a healthy work/family life balance. Don’t feel guilty and you don’t need to apologize for asking for help when you need it. In fact, getting help when you need it allows room for more opportunities, creativity and discovery of passion. It creates room for new beginnings!
Getting help when you need it allows room for more opportunities, creativity and discovery of passion. It creates room for new beginnings!
What do you think about the three things I learned as a third time mom? What kind of mother are you? Do you outsource? If so, where and why? If not, would you like to try? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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