The piece struck a chord with me because I was never able to make peace with being a stay-at-home mom. I tried.
I left my job as a civil servant right before my first daughter was born determined to be a stay-at-home mom because staying home is the right and selfless thing to do. I told myself,
Staying home is what good moms do.
And, of course, I wanted to be a good mom.
As I rolled into month four of staying home my baby was happy, my house was ridiculously clean, meals were served, volunteering hours complete and I was at war with myself. A small voice inside said,
Maybe you need to go back to work.
And I said,
Shut up. I can’t do that. I’m a good mom. Good moms stay home.
My mom stayed home until my younger sister entered school and she loved it. As much as I loved (and still love) being a mom, I couldn’t figure out why I felt so unhappy staying at home.
What ultimately kept me home for as long as I did (a little over a year) was guilt. Horrible, nagging guilt that by working I would somehow damage my child beyond recognition because I’m a horribly selfish person who would chose to leave her daughter behind to go to work.
It took me awhile to accept the fact that not working turned me into a miserable person. For me to feel whole, I need to have a professional identity. It’s a defining piece of who I am.
I have no idea how my spouse tolerated a professionally unfulfilled me. I became jealous of my spouse’s career. I resented his achievements. I became impatient, easily annoyed and, now looking back, pretty damn depressed.
What I decided is that staying home might’ve made me feel like I was being a good mom, but making my professional aspirations a priority made me a better mom and a better me.
Here’s some food for thought if you find yourself struggling to make peace with being a stay-at-home mom or dad.
There Is Nothing Wrong With You
Repeat this over and over again to yourself. There is NOTHING wrong with you. You are normal. You are fine. It’s OK to not feel fulfilled by staying home. It’s not for everyone.
Staying Home Doesn’t Have to Be Forever
This one is a line directly from my mama. If you find yourself at war with yourself about going back to work, set a timeline for yourself. Make sure you discuss it with your spouse so s/he can support you in your professional journey.
Being a Working Mom Won’t Damage Your Kids
According to a Harvard Business School Study, not only will working not necessarily damage your kids it might just make them more successful than their peers and model more egalitarian relationships that transcend traditional gender roles.
It’s All About Quality Time (Not Quantity)
We all know that it’s quality and not quantity that matters when it comes to spending time with your children. It’s the simple things like reading a book together or sitting down for a nightly chat with your child that make all the difference.
Find Ways to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
You don’t have to work full time right out of the gate. Explore options for part-time, freelance and location independent job opportunities. Heck, entrepreneurship is the new black and work-life blending is the new work-life balance. Where there is a will, there might just be a way.
The Truth About Staying Home or Working? It’s Personal.
Choosing to stay home doesn’t make you a great parent. And choosing to go to work doesn’t make you a horrible parent. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer and that’s OK.