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Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Isn't Always a Choice

After eight long years of parenting, I realized something the other day. In fact, the truth kind of smacked me in the face on a drive home, a truth that left me rather shocked:

I don't actually want to be a stay-at-home mom.

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Are you as shocked as I am? Honestly, I've always thought of myself as a stay-at-home mom first and foremost, as if it's something that should come "naturally" to me.

I've always worked, but mostly in a part-time sense outside of the home and I have never really thought of my job as a nurse as a part of my identity. My job was work to pay the bills, you know what I'm saying? But after I made a transition into working for myself, I realized something rather shocking: I am actually happier on the (very rare) days that I work and have childcare than the majority of days I spend at home with my little kiddos.

The truth is, I stay home because it's what works best for our family, not because it's what personally fulfills me and makes my heart soar with happiness.

The realization was both humbling and made me feel kind of crappy. What kind of mother prefers not spending every waking second gazing lovingly at her children?

Well, me, apparently.

I realized that in a perfect world, I think I would actually enjoy being a full-time working mother. (Well, technically, I do work full-time, but I do it from home, which is a whole other can of worms.) I would actually enjoy leaving the house and getting dressed every day and settling into an office where I could write and research and edit and actually eat lunch without scrubbing every surface of my floor after my kids eat their lunch. (I mean, seriously, I don't understand how one sandwich can turn into a sticky substance that coats all the walls, chairs and floors. WTH?!?)

In a perfect world, I would enjoy not being the one who's the constant, the given in our lives to do the shopping, the cleaning, the scheduling, the school pick-ups, meet the speech pathologist, fill out the paperwork and run all the errands because I'm the one who "has the time."

In a perfect world, what would come "naturally" to me is coming home to my kids and diving into the evening chaos, instead of being burned out by a day of relentless work and childcare and trudging through, no matter how cute those little darlings are.

In a perfect world, it wouldn't take me this long to admit to myself that I might actually "naturally" be a working mom at heart.

But we don't live in a perfect world. And the truth is, I stay home because it's what works best for our family, not because it's what personally fulfills me and makes my heart soar with happiness.

I mean, let's be real. Four kids in daycare? The endless sick days in a house full of little kids? I can't even fathom how our kids would get to and from school. These are serious questions that shows you how clueless I am about such things in the "real" working world. How do working parents pick their kids up from school at 3:30? Where do they go after school? I just don't get it, if most jobs end at 5 or later. Isn't the school day kind of built for stay-at-home moms? At this point in our lives, I don't feel like staying home is really a "choice" on my part—and for many women—because there aren't really any other good alternatives at the moment.

I've had a lot of frustration with myself as a mom because staying home is freaking hard for me. I find it exhausting and isolating and I honestly kind of hate myself for thinking it. I know many moms would kill for the chance to see their kids grow up before their eyes. I know I'm going to look back and bawl someday at how how little and perfect they were.

Admitting that being a stay-at-home mom isn't my natural default has actually been pretty freeing to me. Maybe I'm a working mom at heart wearing a stay-at-home mom yoga/athletic wear disguise!

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There is no shame in admitting that we're all built differently and staying home or working might come more "naturally" to some women than others. There's no shame in realizing what makes us tick and what we need to be the best versions of ourselves.

There's also no shame in admitting that sometimes, what does come "naturally" might not always be an option for us and our families either. Sometimes, we moms just do what we gotta do.

Photograph by: j&j brusie photography/Chaunie Brusie

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