Dear SAHM: It's Okay to Miss Your Old Self - Baby Chick
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Dear SAHM: It’s Okay to Miss Your Old Self

sahmUpdated March 2, 2022

by Katie Sproul

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

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Dear SAHM,

I see you.

I see the struggles you face each day. I see the exhaustion. I see you trying your best. I see you because I’m one of you.

Many of us chose this life – this job. We decided to put our careers on hold, decided to spend endless hours caring for our children and raising our families. And it truly is the best job in the world. We don’t miss a single moment of our children’s lives. We’re there for the firsts; we’re there for the classroom parties, the dance recitals, and the sports practices.

It’s okay to miss the women you were before you were a SAHM.

Some might say, “You are so lucky to stay at home with your kids.” And we are. But like I said, we don’t miss a single moment. We’re there for the tantrums, the meltdowns, the bad moods, and everything else that comes with it. So while we are lucky to have this time with our children, it’s also okay not to love every moment with your children.

It’s okay if you’re not always in the mood to play. It’s okay if you feel touched out by the end of the day and retreat to your bedroom behind a locked door to enjoy a few minutes of quiet alone time. No? Just me? Please tell me I’m not alone . . .

Many of us had careers and a whole different life before becoming stay-at-home moms (SAHM). It’s okay to miss the woman you were before becoming a mother. And it’s okay to miss your career and the sense of appreciation and accomplishment that came with that career. I sincerely hope you feel valued and recognized by your spouse, partner, or family. But I also understand that it’s not quite the same as the sense of accomplishment we used to feel when we succeeded in that big project or challenging assignment in our careers.

Our little ones certainly aren’t going to tell us how invaluable we were to them (at least not until they have kids of their own and truly understand what it is that we went through – on that note, thanks, mom!). We don’t get raises or bonuses or that “employee of the month” award to show for all of our hard work. And sometimes, that can have us feeling . . . well, slightly empty.

Other SAHMs are right there with you.

Historically, stay-at-home moms have been expected to oversee the household, care for the kids, satisfy everyone’s needs, manage the chaos, put themselves on the back burner, and take it all in stride. But there is a new, more modern take on motherhood that has the current generation speaking out about our experiences and sharing more than ever before. And in sharing our struggles, we find out that we are truly not alone. Even in the most challenging moments, or the times you feel isolated and like you’re the only one dealing with your specific breed of chaos, other moms are walking the path alongside you.

This is motherhood. It’s messy, imperfect, and exhausting. But somehow, we survive to see another day . . . as chaotic as it will likely be. So mama, if this sounds familiar to you, just know you are not alone.

Invest back into yourself.

I encourage you to find ways to invest back into yourself. We pour so much into everyone else’s cups that ours tends to sit empty. Keep in touch with your former self and revisit her. Maintain some of your hobbies and interests and take time to fulfill them from time to time.

For some moms, it might look like a certain fitness routine. For others, having a creative outlet might scratch that itch. For me, I missed feeling like I was making a difference in others’ lives. Before becoming a mother, I was a pediatric occupational therapist, and I worked with kids with special needs. I worked closely with kids, their families, and their teachers and felt like the work I was doing was helping each child succeed in their daily routine. After putting my career on hold, I missed that feeling. I felt like a less-whole version of myself.

Raising my children is certainly fulfilling, and I know I’m making an immeasurable difference in their lives, but still, something was missing. By sharing my take on motherhood and connecting with so many moms, I have regained that aspect of my life. I feel that sense of accomplishment every time I hear from a fellow mom that I helped them in one way or another.

Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Recently I received the following message from a mom:

“People like you who speak up about the struggles of motherhood really helped me out of my postpartum depression this past year. We need more people like you out there, reminding other struggling moms we aren’t alone . . . don’t ever stop.”

These moments fill me with the same sense of appreciation and accomplishment I used to get in my career as an OT. No matter how small, something I said or did, made a big difference for someone else. And it was something I did outside of our family. Something visible to others. I feel like I regain a part of the old me in those moments. A piece that had been missing for a few years.

Do not feel guilty for needing more.

So if you’re reading this and you feel a sense of longing for the old version of yourself – your old life – you’re not alone. This new chapter is a great one, and perhaps the most important. But the chapters that came before it are important too. And they’re a vital part of your story. Find ways to tap back into those chapters. Whether you take up an old hobby or satisfy a previously fulfilled aspect of your former life, it might make you feel more like you. And it’s important for us to feel like we’re giving something to ourselves in the process of giving so much to so many others.

Don’t feel guilty for not being happy in your new life as a SAHM 100% of the time. It’s a hard job, unlike any other job in the world. But you have to make a concerted effort to invest in your happiness and fulfillment from time to time because the truth is, you deserve it. You’re doing great, mama, and we all believe in you.

Sincerely,

A fellow SAHM

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