Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom

Of all the things people warn you about before you have children, I must admit that nothing can prepare you for the ridiculous amount of decisions that will need to be made beginning on the day you find out you are pregnant.  Decision #1: how to we tell your family and friends?  Decision #2: Will we find out the gender? Decision #3: Where will I give birth? Hospital? Home?  Decision #4… You get the picture.  Decisions.

And even with the countless number of choices to be made about my health, the baby’s health, what stroller to buy, etc., the most difficult decision I have had to make during my journey into parenthood, and I dare say in my entire life, was the decision to leave my full-time job to stay home with my daughter.
stay at home mom
I never could have expected the inner turmoil this decision would cause for me, or the roller coaster of emotions I would experience as I weighed my options.  On the one hand, committing myself to a 40-hour work week outside the home meant at least 40 hours a week I would not be spending with my infant daughter, not to mention a childcare bill that nearly eclipsed our monthly rent.  On the other hand, leaving my job would not only mean a loss of half of our normal income (and added pressure on my husband to be the sole provider) but a sacrifice of my own career goals.  When I found out I was pregnant, I was two weeks into a new position at my company that I had worked for more than a year to get.  Would I be ready to give that up after just a few months?  This debate went on in my head and out loud with my family and friends until the day I returned to work.  I thought returning to work was what I wanted, even if I didn’t feel quite emotionally ready to be back at work. I spent the next few months trying to get back into the loop at my ever-evolving office after being absent for four months, and I quickly realized my priorities had changed in a way that no longer made me a good fit for the company.  I found myself having conversations about time management when I knew I’d just spent the entire night awake with an infant, for example.  My heart was no longer in it . . . so I quit.
But I was not ready to give up on my desire to have a career, so I left my job with the intention of making my way into a new career that would give me the flexibility to mother in the way I wanted to mother while still doing satisfying work (that would hopefully be profitable as well).  I have now officially been a “stay-at-home mom” for more than a year, and it’s difficult to say whether or not my vision of what that role would look like has become a reality.  To be honest, I am not sure what my expectations were.  I knew that being at home with an infant – and eventually a toddler – would be difficult work, and that it would not leave me much time to do anything else.  But I also knew of many moms who had started their own companies or found work-from-home jobs that gave them freedom to be with their children for most of the time while still allowing them to develop their career ambitions.
stay at home momAnd that pretty much sums up what my year has been like.  There have been no surprises but there have been many changes, and there have been no regrets for me.  I won’t say that I have loved every minute of being home by myself with my daughter, but I knew pretty well what I was getting myself into when I decided to leave work.  There have been days when I wanted to go back to a full-time job, most of which happened to coincide with days when my daughter was being particularly difficult.  Although those moments are greatly outnumbered by the days when my heart is bursting with joy at getting to see her grow and learn right before my eyes.
Revolving my day around a baby is challenging, to say the least, especially when I have my own agenda that must be put on hold in favor of diaper changes and story time.  But I would not have things any other way, and I am very often reminded of how grateful I am to be spending so much valuable time with my daughter while still working hard at my own goals and ambitions.  In fact, quitting my job gave me the freedom to explore what it might look like for me to define my own career, and that has translated to opportunities that I never would have been able to take advantage of before.  It is not easy.  There are many, many late nights.  And as much as I’d like to spend nap times doing things like reading and taking my own little nap, I spend a vast majority of my “free” time working on projects, developing my skill set, and marketing myself.  While I am not experiencing the financial satisfaction that I did with my previous job, I have been able to take on work that I am passionate about, and that is more valuable to me than a paycheck.
I suppose if there is one thing that has caught me off guard about being a stay-at-home mom, it is how I’ve been able to redefine myself in ways I did not expect. 

 

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