With the birth of my first child, I dove without hesitation into the amazing world of do-it-all motherhood. A driven individual, high speed was right up my alley. I saw no reason to quit my work-at-home position for a Fortune 500 company to stay home with my baby. In fact, I thought I was getting the best of both worlds because my flexible job would allow me to do both.
Boy, was I wrong.
For me, the type of work related to “work” was one type of mental process. The projects and reports and deadlines and oh-so-many meetings were one thing. On the other side of the work spectrum fell caring for this tiny little human who had very different needs and demands: feed me; play with me; soothe me to sleep because I can’t do it on my own.
Both jobs were demanding and exhausting—and yet extremely satisfying. But trying to do them both seemed impossible. All day long, I felt close to tearing in half while trying to toggle back and forth between my motherhood hat and my employee hat.
I'd nurse my daughter while on conference calls, praying she wouldn’t make a noise during the times I was forced to unmute my phone and scared that people would consider me unprofessional when they did hear her.
By the time she was 9 months old, I caved and hired a nanny. Relief was immediate but temporary, because the overall management of my child and household were still my burden to carry.
I no longer have to transition between my career life and mom life. My day’s full focus is my family.
I chose to stay home permanently after being part of a mass layoff. With another child on the way, my husband and I looked at the budget and decided we could at least try it out while I was still receiving benefits. I’ve been home ever since. Sure, I miss the extra cash, the comradery and the feeling of success of a job well done. But I’ve come to see staying home with my children as a gift.
There are so many amazing things about not having to work. No more endless work calls and meetings to discuss setting more meetings. No more tearful faces on Facetime because mommy’s away on a business trip.
But, the biggest gift of all is that I only have to wear one hat: my motherhood hat.
I no longer have to transition between my career life and mom life. My day’s full focus is my family. We get up and the whole day is clear before us: be spontaneous and go where we will. If the weather’s nice, we can decide to pick fruit at a local farm or, if it’s rainy or cold, we can hit up our favorite indoor entertainment.
I have the luxury to take my time with them. There are relaxed days where we never get out of our pajamas. I don’t have to take them anywhere, I don’t have to rush and there are no deadlines except for the ones we choose. I can say yes to “Can we eat lunch outside?” “Can we stay a little longer at the park?” “Can you help me draw a baby flying unicorn?” without owing my time to anyone else.
This is not to say that my life is completely void of juggling. I still need to clean my house and grocery shop and do the things that keep my household running smoothly. But those tasks fit more easily into my mom mindset than working did.
While I don’t feel grateful nearly as much as I should, when I do slow down enough to catch a milestone in action or a spark of creativity from one of my kids, I feel so fortunate.