By Ashley Harris
Before sitting down to write my story, I spent what seems like hours searching and reading other mom’s stories. How do I write a story that accurately sums up how I feel about being a mom? Will what I have to say even make sense? Am I doing this whole “mom” thing right? Every time I tried to come up with what I wanted my story to be about, I kept coming back to the same question – did I make the right decision, and is this what is best for my kids?
Throughout my entire motherhood journey, the one thing that I will forever be thankful for is my tribe. I am grateful that I have a few friends who also have children the same age as my own. They are my sounding board, my reassurance that I am doing things right, and they never question who I am and what I am doing. My tribe (my husband included), has been such an essential part of my transition into the person that I am now.
I signed up for my first Mommy Connections class when my son was about 5 months old – about 3 years ago. Initially, I signed up for these classes because I thought they would be a great opportunity to get myself out of the house, and meet other moms with young children. In all honesty, I have never been an overly social person, but I wanted to try and put myself out there for the sake of my child (and I know that if I sign up and pay for something – I sure as heck wouldn’t miss a class!). In my opinion, our children learn so much from watching us as parents, so I wanted to put myself in an atmosphere where I could interact with new people and try new activities.
As a first time mom, everything seemed so overwhelming, and let me tell you – it was. In the 8 weeks that I was in class with that group of moms, I saw friendships develop (between both the moms and babies), and learned about so many resources that are in the city of Calgary. But, being in a class where most of us where in the same boat, it made me feel better to know that I wasn’t alone. A few months after my class finished, my maternity leave ended and I returned to work outside of our home. Enter the feeling of “did I make the right decision?” again.
The growth and development that I saw in my son while he was at day home was incredible. He was really learning how to interact with other children, and was becoming the little boy that I knew he would someday. I was so proud of him, but couldn’t help but feeling that I was missing something. Both my husband and I had very weird work schedules – he works shift work, and I worked in the event industry, which meant nights and weekends. Although I was able to work my schedule around my husbands, I still felt that I was having a hard time balancing work and family.
In April 2017, I began mat leave again when I had my daughter. This time, I felt that I really needed to do some soul searching and really decide what we wanted to do moving forward. While on mat leave with my daughter, I took 3 more Mommy Connections classes, and found that I got even more out of them than the first one that I took; simply because I had known what to expect and truly wanted to make the most of making those connections. It was such a blessing to be able to take new programs and talk to other moms about anything, such as how they made their decisions about staying at home vs. working away from or in their home – the best part, is that these conversations were always judgement free. I didn’t have to feel guilty about asking opinions or feel like any one was judging me. I am so thankful for the friendships that I have made because of Mommy Connections.
In 2018, my husband and I made the decision that I would stay at home and not return to work. It was important for us to find balance in our family. This has been the most rewarding and challenging thing that I have done by far. But again, I found myself asking “did I make the right decision?”. Were the kids socializing enough, was I helping to encourage their development enough, and the list goes on and on. But on the other hand, I felt that I was missing something. Again, enter Mommy Connections.
In December 2018, I joined the Mommy Connections team as the Program Administrator, and haven’t looked back (yes – I realize that it has only been 2 months)! The one thing that I felt was missing through my stay at home journey was adult communication. I feel blessed and grateful that I was and am able to stay at home, but felt that I was really lacking the adult interaction portion of my life. I enjoy working and wanted to do something for me, and I am so happy that I have found a purpose (above and beyond wife and mother) again.
I don’t think that the question “did I make the right decision” will ever go away, but I think that its meaning and answer will grow and change with me as I continue on my motherhood journey and as my children get older. In the meantime, just remember that you’ve got this, momma!
To carry on the “day in the life” of a mom 😊:
The first thing I do each morning: Take 5 minutes to myself. Because the chaos will being all too soon
Breakfast consists of: Either toast or cereal and fruit
If I have 30 mins for myself I: Make a cup of tea and just try and take some down time
What is a typical day like for you: Wake up, let the dog out, kids cartoons and breakfast, Preschool or morning play date, lunch, nap and quiet time for the kids – work for me, family play time, dinner, bath and bed (and then time to catch up with my husband if he isn’t working nights)
Favourite item for baby: Currently play doh or paint – it entertains both my 22 month and 3 year old for hours. As a baby, it was a swaddle that had a zipper (both of my kids were Houdini’s as newborns)