Tough mom decisions: how did you decide?
I never aspired to be a stay-at-home mom.
Reflecting back upon it, I never aspired to do much of anything. It was not that I was lacking in ambition. I was that annoying overachiever in athletics and academics but I just didn’t know what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” I didn’t declare Broadcast Journalism as my major until my junior year of college. Even upon graduation, I did not know if I wanted to purse journalism or a career in public relations. Decisions were made day-by-day, minute-by-minute and I ended up dabbling in both.
Getting married and having a family were not on my radar in my 20s. I was too busy “finding myself,” traveling the world and having a good time. I never aspired to be the president of a company but opportunities came–an account executive with the corner office at a PR agency, a freelance gig as a travel writer. It wasn’t until my 30th birthday that I stopped to reflect upon it all and I surmised I had spent all this time climbing the ladder, only to realize it was leaning on the wrong wall.
Shortly thereafter, I met my husband, moved to Colorado, married and was pregnant six months later. My wanderlust life was grounded. When we discussed our childcare options, my husband humbly submitted he would like me to stay home and raise our children. I agreed. I never really saw it as a sacrifice but as the next step. I had seen what I wanted to see, done what I wanted to do.
My foray into motherhood with a colicky newborn was not smooth but I made the best of a sleepless situation. We hiked several times a week with Colorado Mountain Mamas. We were a regulars at the library’s storytime. We were in playgroups. I was a joiner, a doer as my Type-A single life transcended into motherhood. I desperately clung to some kind of structure as I tried to fill the daunting 12 hours before me every day.
Baby #2 came. I bought a double stroller and we did Everything X 2. Life continued at a frenetic pace as I immersed myself in everything around me. I started freelancing from home. Time passed, children grew.
One day not long ago on a lazy afternoon, I looked at my children playing in the backyard and a wave of joy overcame me. Somewhere along my journey, I had fallen in love with being at home with them. I wasn’t just filling my days, I was feeling them.
Not long after, a head hunter contacted me with a tempting offer to return to full-time work. I originally refused but my husband encouraged me to pursue it. He recently launched his own business that is going well but sustainability is always in question with our current economy. We decided that perhaps I would be the one to provide our financial stability.
And so with a heavy heart, I met with the team, the VP and the director. I loved the company, love the vision but agonized over the inevitability that working moms face every day: a lack of time with their children. Of course, most of us do the best we can and rationalize it is not quantity, it’s quality. But I was greedy: I wanted both.
I finally came to the decision that I would do what was best for my family. If offered the position, I would take it. If not, I would continue down our previous path. Those weeks were agonizing to me as I played with my children. Would this be the last time we would climb to the water tower in the morning? Would this be our final daytime playdate with friends who have become an important part of our lives?
In the end, I was not offered the position. I felt a hint of disappointment and then an overwhelming gush of relief. Now was not my time. I was given the gift to stay at home with my children for at least a little while longer. And while this is not necessarily the life I would have chosen, it is the life I am blessed to be living.
And I plan to take full advantage of it.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you living the life you want to be living? If not, what would you change?