If you would have asked me three years ago if I would ever be a stay-at-home-mom, I would have responded with a quick and simple “no.” Even while pregnant with my daughter, I still had no pull to stay at home full time. I had a job I loved, amazing co-workers and enough flexibility that I figured I could make it all work.
When I was about 6 months pregnant, my husband was given an amazing job opportunity, which was great in all aspects, except that it came with a residency restriction. This forced us to move from the North Hills to the South Hills, even though there is only a 45 minute drive between our old home and new home, it drastically changed the course I would take.
With my husband’s job his shifts rotate, so figuring out what child care would be needed would rotate on a weekly/monthly basis and could easily change within a 24 hour period. With the move my commute time to work would have doubled and we moved away from any family, who would have been our first choice for childcare.
At the start of my maternity leave I still planned on figuring out something and returning to work, but about a month into my leave, I realized that I was not prepared to put a baby into a daycare for 9 or 10 hours a day. I actually went through a few weeks that I did not want to leave the baby with anyone, and wanted to be with her all the time. I tried to work out a plan with my employer to work from home (part or full time) and even offered to go part time, all of which were rejected. As I got closer to my return to work day, I realized that I wasn’t going to return. And with a 10 minute phone call, I finalized my decision to become a stay-at-home-mom…. Ummm what?
Fast forward a bit and my daughter is now approaching 2.5 years old and I have a second child, a son, who is 3 months old. I have since picked up some part time online teaching, so I have now taken on the title stay-at-home/work-at-home mom. In general this is still a choice I struggle with more often than I care to admit. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of positives that come with staying home. I am able to create our daily schedule, experience all the firsts, and in general spend a lot of time with my children. It also allows our family to work around my husband’s schedule – as I am available for family outings whenever he is off.
However, I really do struggle with feeling like I have lost some of my own identity. Work was something I enjoyed; I felt like I accomplished something each day – and I worked hard to get where I was. You would think almost 2.5 years into this that I would have a routine in place or that I would have found my groove, but I honestly haven’t. I’m not someone who enjoys cleaning (and if while we are being honest, my husband is better at it anyway), and I miss the interaction of adults. While I take us on playdates and have friends- I miss having friends without kids (or at the very least, at least hanging out without the kids).
I feel pressure to teach my kids and have plans for them. Are they learning enough? Am I approaching behavioral issues correctly? Are we doing enough crafts? Did we watch too much television today? When something falls short I blame myself. Why can’t I keep the house more organized? Why doesn’t my daughter know <insert specific skill here>? Am I balancing time between both kids? Why did we order out three times this week, even though I grocery shopped twice?
There are many days that I do second guess it all an feel that I don’t fit the traditional mold of a stay-at-home-mom, but doubts aside I am still grateful that I have the opportunity. I know that with time we will find a groove that works and I will (hopefully) become more and more confident in my abilities to manage it all. I will keep working towards finding opportunities that work our family situation and know that it is simply this stage of life and it is not a forever position. There will be a day that I work full time again, and I am sure I will look back and miss this.