I find I’m really struggling lately with the idea of success, and what represents being successful. How do you reach the conclusion someone is successful? I don’t have a job, so how is my success measured? Do I need to have a job to be successful? Do I need to do something great to feel I have an identity above and beyond “mom”, “wife”, “homemaker”? Will I only know I’ve been successful after my kids are grown?
I will admit, all the school forms got to me this year. There is always that blank line for “Employer,” which I leave blank. My “work” number is my cell phone number. I don’t know why that bothers me. I’ve been battling internal as well as external pressure to do more, and be more, than just (ARGH!) a stay-at-home-mom. When I think about being in an office again, having to deal with people again – particularly potentially angry or unhappy customers, or having to spend all day on the phone again, I have anxiety attacks. I don’t see it happening. How does a full-time office job work when you have two kids in activities and one special, for whom I feel I am on-call 24/7? I’m justifying here I know. Give me a sec.
I know what I would love to do, what I’ve dreamed of doing. I am terrified to start, for fear I will fail. I feel an internal push to do something, anything beyond carpools, homework supervisor, cook, maid, laundress, family accountant, classroom volunteer, non-profit volunteer, nursery volunteer, social coordinator, lady-who-lunches, and runner. My self-confidence is at a low for many reasons. But I, like many others, am afraid of trying.To try means to put yourself out there. Putting yourself out there opens up all kinds of doors to failure and criticism.
My own fears make me believe I am thought of as less because I don’t have a career. I am not a successful business woman. I don’t wear power suits anymore. Have I dumbed myself down by staying home so long? These are some of the things that roll through my brain at 3am. These thoughts quiet me when I am in a room full of successful working women. But I do have a Bachelor’s degree. I know what’s going on in the world. I read, a lot. I can put a solid sentence together, and maintain my end of complicated conversations. Is it just me selling myself short?
I know I do a lot, and that being a stay-at-home is a more-than-full-time job. I’m pretty darn good at it. And trust me, I am so happy I have the choice to be home with my babies. I guess the question is, what do I have to do to make myself believe I am successful? To let anyone else determine that definition for me is automatically undermining my success.