I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment it hit me. I was sitting on our back deck in the new IKEA chair we’d just bought. It was a morning in May, so it was hot, but not too hot. I was about a week away from returning to work from my 12-week maternity leave. Luke was running through the yard asking me to chase him. I was holding Eli, who was gazing lovingly into my eyes as he always does.
I don’t want to stop doing this, I thought.
My heart was aching at the thought of going back to work.
Luke was growing up so fast. Eli will too. So I started toying with the idea of staying home.
Previously it was not really in the cards from a financial perspective. As a result I’d talked myself into the idea that I loved my work (which I did), and that I was happier and a better mom when I was able to break away and do my own thing each day (which I was starting to question). I thought being a stay-at-home mom would mean life would just be an endless cycle of house work, cooking, changing diapers and calming toddler meltdowns.
But Robert had just gotten a new job that included a pay raise. Childcare for two kids was more than we had initially planned for. I started factoring this into the fact that I was actually enjoying my time at home, maintaining the household and being there through thick and thin.
I knew it would be harder to be at home all day compared to going into an office where you can drink your coffee in peace, have adult conversations with your colleagues over lunch, and actually complete a task, uninterrupted, in a timely manner. But I was feeling up to the challenge.
I started talking to people about these thoughts running through my head. I felt like my mind was already made up, but I wanted to hear what other people had to say. Overwhelmingly, everyone said I’d never regret the decision to stay home with my kids. I heard this from older women who took breaks from their careers when their kids were young and successfully reentered the workforce when their kids entered school. I heard it from new moms who had recently started staying at home, giving up a little of their family’s financial security. It was unanimous.
I think the reason the decision was hard for me was because I’d built this persona around myself that I was a career woman. As a child, I was not the type of girl who couldn’t wait to get married and have kids. I wasn’t sure I even wanted kids until I met my husband. Being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t who I was, so I was uncomfortable with it.
But the more I thought it over (I’m a thinker, if you haven’t figured that out yet!), the more I realized that jobs will come and go. Money will come and go. But these years are short and I can’t ever get this time back. If we can make it work financially, I would regret not taking a break from my job for a few years to mold my babies and be there for every moment. I can always go back to work (I hope!), but I can’t get these years back.
So three days before I was scheduled to return to work, I asked my boss if we could talk. I literally cried walking into my office. But I kept telling myself, I’m saying goodbye to one family to spend more time with my real family (no offense to my former colleagues – I love you guys 🙂 ). I ended up working part time from home for the next two months, which brings us to today. My last day of “work.”
I’m excited. And a little nervous. This new chapter will surely bring challenges that can’t be resolved through an email trail and WebEx call. I’m armed with parenting books, baby wipes, Pinterest and yoga pants. The true essentials for life at home! I’m ready to add another title to my resume: “Stay-at-Home mom.” My most prestigious title yet!
As moms we have a lot of tough decisions to make. And though it was a hard choice, I’m grateful that I even had the option to consider staying home.
I am planning to do some contract work in communications when I can, and maybe that will turn into my next career. Or, maybe in a few years my company will be hiring. There are a lot of “maybes” and only time will tell what the future holds. The only thing that’s certain is I’m going to embrace my new role and be the best mommy I can be!