A little over four
years ago, after the birth of my daughter, I made it a goal of mine to find a
way to stay at home with her. At the time it wasn’t a possibility. My husband
was finishing school and I was the breadwinner. He was a fantastic stay-at-home
father, but I found myself envying the time they spent together.
On weekends during my
evening newscast my husband would bring my daughter to the news station so we
could all have dinner together. It was a bittersweet experience. I loved her
seeing me at work. I wanted to be a good example to her. But I also wanted to be
with her more.
A couple years later
I was expecting our second child. By then my husband secured a stable job and
my work schedule was becoming more flexible. My daughter loved her preschool
and she was doing fantastic work there. I was scared out of my mind to change
things up, but I couldn’t bear the thought of taking our infant to daycare at
just 12 weeks old.
Mothers do this all
the time. I told myself. It’s going to be OK. But my husband encouraged me to consider staying at
home with our kids, if I wanted to. His schedule was pretty hectic and overall
it would make things easier for our family.
I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for the shift in pace, the unexplained exhaustion and the mystery of where all the time goes during the day.
As I contemplated
this decision throughout my maternity leave I worried I’d be bored out of my
mind. In my 12 weeks off of work, I managed to make it through eight seasons of "Desperate Housewives" and most of "Grey’s Anatomy." I walked my kids to the park
and took lots and lots of pictures. What in the world did moms think was so
hard about this gig? I am going to have a blast!
I returned to work
and issued my resignation within a few months, but was fortunate to secure a
part-time position to keep my foot in the door and contribute to some of our
family's finances. I couldn’t wait to spend more time with my kids and get a
much-needed break from the 40-hour work week.
A year in? I realized that my much-needed break came every Wednesday and Friday when I get
to drive to my office listening to what I want to hear on the radio and have
an uninterrupted adult conversation with my co-workers. The time I once had to
watch my shows quickly turned into “inappropriate television” for my
now-perceptive 3-year-old. And my days were now filled with doing
everything my kids wanted to do.
I don’t think
anything can quite prepare you for the shift in pace, the unexplained
exhaustion and the mystery of where all the time goes during the day. No one
knows how you can love someone so much, but on some days, they can also drive
you to the edge of the mental cliff and make you want to jump off.
My friends at my
station love to tell me how I have the perfect situation, and how it’s so
amazing that I get to spend so much time with my kids. I agree with them to their
face, but I am also so tempted to pull them aside and whisper, “but being here,
at work with you … This is the easy part!”
Is being a stay-at-home parent a terrible, horrible, awful situation? No. Is it different than I