I assumed the role of stay-at-home mom like many women do—kind of by accident. When I was pregnant, I wasn’t quite sure if I'd return to work. But when my son was born, it became abundantly clear that going back to work would make almost zero sense financially. I would barely be taking in any income after the cost of childcare was factored in.
Don’t get me wrong: I wanted to spend the time with my baby. I honestly couldn’t imagine having anyone else care for him. But I fell into the whole thing. Before kids, I had a career I was proud of, and I expected to return and continue to excel at it.
In fact, going into the whole mommy thing, I believed on some level that I would be able to effortlessly balance motherhood with career. I was dead wrong. And even though I soon found myself totally dedicated to the mom role and happy to put my career off for a couple of years, for the entire time 10 years that I was a SAHM, I battled with the guilt of leaving my career.
I couldn’t admit to myself (or others) that I just really loved being a SAHM. And I deeply regret that.
I knew that the work I was doing for my kids was real work. It was important. It counted. I knew that if I had paid someone else to do it, they would have collected a hefty and well-earned paycheck. I knew being a SAHM mom was something that deserved the utmost respect.
And yet, I’m not quite sure I gave myself the respect I deserved.
I found myself apologizing for what I did, for leaving my career behind. I found myself needing to explain that we wouldn’t afford childcare, that I would get back to my career eventually. But the truth was I was home because I wanted to be—because even though it was a giant financial bargain, it just felt right.
I couldn’t admit to myself (or others) that I just really loved being a SAHM. I couldn’t own it, or relax into it. And I deeply regret that.
Look, being a SAHM wasn’t always easy. I was prone to loneliness, depression, stress and guilt. But those years when my boys were my everything—and I was their everything—were among the sweetest, most beautiful times of my life. I was blessed to get to spend those years with my kids and I don’t wish any of it away.
But what I do wish is that I had more pride in my role as SAHM. I wish I celebrated it a bit more. I wish I had confidence that staying home with them was absolutely the right decision and that it was a worthy one, one that defined me in an empowering way.
Instead, I spent too much time steeped in worry and hesitation. It’s a shame because, in the end, the whole financial thing did work itself out. And so did the career aspect. In fact, I ended up changing careers to one that suited me much better than my previous career had. Spending those years home with my kids helped me figure out what I really wanted in life, career and everything else.
So, if you are in the early years of your SAHM life, know this: You are worthy and amazing. You are doing perhaps the best work of your life. And what you’re doing is work—maybe the most meaningful and important work out there.
Let yourself sink into it. Enjoy those sweet babes on your hip, at your feet. Because trust me, it will go by faster than you can imagine.