So, you're thinking of quitting your job to be a stay at home mom. Do it.
Don't freak out, this isn't "The Handmaid's Tale." This is about choices that we all have a right to make if we're feeling 'em without wondering if we're pushing women back.
As someone who worked my butt off in one of the most notoriously competitive and oversaturated industries (television and media), I know that taking a step back at any time potentially hinders any or all future success in my field. But to that, I say: Family is more important than work, period.
My first pregnancy in 2010 found me petrified to become a mom; the impending lifestyle change totally freaked me out and had me crying every darn day. Why? Because I loved my job and how hard I worked to get to where I landed, and I didn't want to sacrifice all that effort—ever. The plot twist here is that I was laid off at the start of my pregnancy, couldn't land another full-time gig before my baby was born and found myself unexpectedly forced into a stay-at-home mom situation (which quickly turned into part-time-work-at-home status, thanks to my blog). My first year of motherhood was partly consumed with me feeling panicked and crushed about whether I would ever work like I did before.
Thank goodness hindsight is 20/20. Eight years and another child later, I am SO THANKFUL I couldn't score another full-time job back then. Being at home with two babies (16 months apart) made me learn them in a way that made parenting them as toddlers (dare I say) easy. Dealing with a toddler isn't so hard if you've been the one training them 24/7 since they were babies.
Being at home also helped me mentally and emotionally. It's damn difficult to handle a high-pressure job, a spouse, small kids, regular life, home repair, babysitter-coordinating, self-care, sleep and focused parenting.
While past societal standards ridiculously pressured women to stay at home after babies, I now sometimes feel like we are pressured to stay in the workforce as to not let our gender down.
In the age of self-care, pausing work for our kids, lives and selves should be a no-brainer for anyone thinking of making that kind of choice.
But what about losing rank in the workforce? What about giving up everything you worked so hard for in those career-focused days before kids? What about all that money you're not going to make anymore? Because yes, we can lose major cash over time when we opt out of the workforce. Remember that shocking income-loss calculator I tackled last year?
It's all true and terribly unfortunate. However, I've gone from full-time working woman to stay-at-home working mom to work-from-home mom and all sorts of combos in between—and here's what I've come up with: Staying home and/or working part-time during the first 5-6 years of my young kids' lives made me a better mother.
Do not twist that to mean working moms are not good mothers. That is not what I'm saying. What I am saying is that each one of us has the right to unapologetically do what lends comfort to our lives and families; to opt out of a rat race and not feel pressure or guilt from society or women-in-the-workforce groups or former colleagues about our choice.
While past societal standards ridiculously pressured women to stay at home after babies, I now sometimes feel like we are pressured to stay in the workforce as to not let our gender down. The pendulum has swung the other way and it's downright condescending.
If you are in a financial situation in which you could stay afloat with only your spouse's income, but find yourself feeling wrong for wanting to stop working or take a pause in your career, "mom up" and resist caving to today's passive-aggressive assault on choosing stay-at-home motherhood. It takes bravery to trade a career for full-time parenthood. It takes patience to regroup and discover new value as a person rather than identifying all self-worth through work. It takes real, emotional depth to learn how to just be us without a steady job outside the home.
Listen to yourself, all those experts say. So, listen, mama. Pull that plug—without apologies—if what you're feeling is right for your family.
Because it's YOUR family—not anyone else's. And nothing in this universe is more important than YOUR family.