As a little girl I always knew I wanted kids. When I was younger I thought I would be married and have all my kids by the age of 25, this my friends, did not happen, and I hate to think what would have been if I forced that vision of what I thought life was going to be like…proving once again that God’s timing is impeccable.
I grew up with working parents, and other than my mom’s short jaunt as a SAHM when my youngest brother was born, I never remember a time when my parents were not working. I grew up staying with my grandparents during the day (some of the best days of my life) and as my cousins got older, they too would watch me.
I truly never gave a second thought to my friends who had mom’s who stayed home while their dad’s worked or ever even thought about becoming a stay at home mom myself. I loved working from a young age. I worked from the time I was of legal working age through clinicals in college, often leaving a clinical at 4 and driving straight to my job, often studying medical terms and anatomy while my customers ate their dinner.
I have always been one to take on a job. I dabbled in many things in my younger years. I started out folding boxes at Pizza Hut, was a park ranger for a campground and beach on Lake Michigan, and then onto serving tables for a classy-ish one of a kind roadhouse through college.
I always knew I wanted to be a part of the medical field, landing a degree as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. Through my job I learned so many life lessons. It is one of those jobs where you are there to help others but walk away gaining so much more than you ever thought possible. Helping others through some of the worst times of their lives, helping people succeed, and become independent again. I loved my job. Every single part of my job. It was messy, it was fun, it was hard. There were good days-great days, days were I cried, and then days where I laughed so hard that I cried. I truly loved going to work. Those patients were my people, I loved them like they were my family. And I think in a sense, many of them shaped my life.
For 9 years I worked as a full time therapist. During those 9 years I got engaged, got married, got pregnant with my first, second, and third babies, and went into labor 2/3 times while working (with my water breaking as I stood a patient on one of the occasions). I was in every facet a working mom.
The juggle (not the struggle) was real. It was always hard leaving my babies after maternity leave. After the first couple days of driving to work with tears rolling down my face, I always found my groove and we as a family found our little routine. We had sitters we loved and trusted, I got to be a part of something bigger than myself by helping others navigate their rehabilitation journey, and I got to go home to some pretty amazing people at the end of my day.
As we began to look for preschools for our oldest, we fell in love with the peer model preschool offered by our local school district (Olentangy at the time). We loved the idea of this type of model. We have always believed in making sure our children knew there were so many beautiful people out there, not one of them like the other. As our daughter began preschool, I also began working part time so I could provide transportation to and from school. I worked part time until our youngest was one.
It was then that my husband approached me with the idea of becoming a stay at home mom. It shook me. I will never say that my work defined me, but my work held a special place in my heart. I maybe dabbled with the idea of being a stay at home mom here and there, but never really thought of it as a reality. I have always worked. It was just what I did, and to be honest, it was hard to see past that. Other than maternity leave, I had never been with my children more time than I was actually working (even when part time, my younger 2 stayed at the sitter during the afternoon because it was cheaper!). I could be a full time working mom, I could be a part time working mom…but could I be a full time mom???
I was excited, nervous, scared, happy…everything all at once. I was hopeful I would adjust to the huge change in dynamic that was coming with me leaving what I had known for so long for my family I knew and loved so well. Could I keep up, could I do it all, could I be all of the things all at once for all the people? Alas, I turned in my notice at work, and became a full time stay at home mom.
As people found out I was leaving work to become a stay at home mom, I had an exuberant amount of congratulations, as if I had just had my first born. I knew what I was about to embark on is a dream for so many women, and to this day feel blessed to have this time with my children that so many working moms long for.
Becoming stay at home mom from a working mom was, in it’s own way, a beautiful mess. I will, having done both, tell you straight up that for me, being a stay at home mom is the hardest “job” I have ever had, ever.
You see, every single one of my children is different in their very own special amazing way. They each have a different love language. Trying to be that exact person that they need at any given moment of the day is a challenge. You are on call 24/7. Sun up to sun down. You don’t turn in your paperwork at the end of the day and clock out. You never clock out. Completing a single task at once without interruption is…have you heard of the term “once in a blue moon”? Folding the laundry might take an entire day. Typically while one room is getting cleaned, another is being destroyed. And let us not forget, using the bathroom alone. I don’t get the drive to and from work to listen to music or call my friends, or decompress. I often tell my husband I feel like a hamster on a wheel, going a million miles an hour and never getting anywhere. My husband often pushes me out the door to take some time to myself, even then I want to take one of the kiddos just to have some one on one time with them. There is also the second guessing yourself. Should I have said that instead of this or reacted this way instead of that. The list. Goes. On.
I miss work. I miss my patients. I miss my coworkers. But my time as a mom to the littlest of littles is fleeting and there is no where else I would rather be. This whole stay at home mom gig is by far been one of my biggest challenges. No day is the same and it is nothing that I have ever expected or imagined. It is more. There is so much love and joy and beautiful crazy. I know that one day I will return to work in some capacity, because I love it. But now, in this moment, I am where I was meant to be. I was meant to be here, for my kids and my husband. For the neighbors who need a ride for their kiddos or someone to help out after school. For play dates and park dates. For breakfasts of Doritos and cookies smashed on the couch. For crafts and surprise road trips to grandma and grandpas. For morning snuggles and pajama days. For picking up the same toys 27 times a day. For being able to share my story of being a full time working mom, a part time working mom, a PRN working mom, and a stay at home mom and putting out stigma that one is harder than the other. Because they are all hard.
Embrace your journey as a mom no matter what it looks like. Working mom or stay at home mom. Is the grass greener? Depends on which side of the fence you are on. You are where you were meant to be at this moment for your children, for your family. I am a true testament to that. Embrace each day and it’s challenges. You are doing your best right where you are at and if that is what we ask of our children, that is ok for us too.