“I’ve decided I am going to stay at home. I’m submitting my 6 weeks notice.”
The words came out and sounded so foreign coming from me as I told them to my boss.
Me. A stay at home mom.
I grew up with a mom that stayed at home and only recently went back to work. Though the idea that “moms stay home” was a normal concept for me, and growing up in the south, an encouraged one, I never actually saw myself as a stay at home mom. Especially after I went to law school and became an attorney. The path seemed obvious. I would be a working mom. I ENJOYED work. I was kind of good at what I did, I had early success in my career, and after about 9 months of passing through life like a deer caught in the headlights ( you know—twins and all) I’d actually figured out what I was doing.
So, why, on God’s green earth was I voluntarily choosing to stay at home?
I still don’t have a good, solid answer. Quite simply, I was ready for a change and the opportunity presented itself. I am not at home because that’s where I felt “called” to be; it’s not because I’m from the south and southern, Christian women are simply expected to be at home; it’s not because we couldn’t afford daycare; it’s not because the guilt of mom shame got to me or because I just couldn’t bear the thought of “missing” some major milestone. Simply put, I was ready for a new adventure and was afforded the opportunity to jump into it–sink or swim.
Some women want to be stay at home moms. My mom was one of those women. She knew she wanted to grow up and be a stay at home mom. She went to college, got her degree, had a career, married my dad and three children later finally got to stay at home. Other women don’t know it automatically. It isn’t until after that first or second baby comes that they realize that more than anything in the world they just want to be at home. They rearrange their budgets, they make sacrifices and they stay home. There are the women who didn’t necessarily want to stay home, but multiple children in daycare is a no-go, so they end up staying home. Then, there’s apparently a small and random sect of people like me. People who want to work, but kind-of-sort-of want to try their hand at staying at home.
It was never my plan, but somewhere along the way the idea snuck in, the stars aligned and without much effort other than a tearful resignation from a job I sincerely did love, I sit here writing about the identity crisis of shifting from being a corporate player to teaching two tiny humans how to use a fork and the difference between yellow and purple. It’s nothing I ever foresaw wanting, and yet after 8 weeks of just them and me, I can assure you it’s been an amazing journey.
Don’t get me wrong–I still need “me” time. I told my husband MONTHS before I decided to stay at home that if I did, he better budget for Mom’s Day Out (ahem, times 2–and he did). I still have “side hustles” (as he refers to them) that allow me to keep my foot in the legal world, but I also have time to do things that I’ve not had time to do before–like go to the park because it’s Wednesday morning or, take a nap because it’s nap time. In my short stint at this SAHM gig, I have found that I will never be that woman who can stay at home 95% of the time, teach her children all the things, make extravagant meals and be on top of the laundry and housework all the time. Those women DO exist–several of my closest people are those women. I just am not one of them and you know what–i’m finding it’s a-okay not to be the “SAHM” I thought I was supposed to be.
It’s okay not to be like every other mom who stays home.
It’s okay for us to be structured and to have a to do list and a regimented schedule.
It’s okay for me to drop them off at MDO or get a babysitter so I can go have lunch and adult conversation and NOT feel bad about it.
It’s okay that I still have a house cleaner help twice a month.
It’s okay that I still never catch up on laundry or meal planning despite being “at home.”
It’s okay for me to be me.
Eight weeks ago, I measured success by whether or not I could exceed the expectations that someone else had placed upon me. Now, success is measured in whether we make it home for naps before the twins fall asleep in the car. I may not have the answer as to why I chose to stay home, but I do know that there is no one right way to do it. THIS was my paradigm shift. There will always be women who I deem are “better” stay at home moms than I am, but I would wager that they are also figuring it out as they go, and that’s okay.