Growing up, all I wanted was to be a mom. It was the answer I gave whenever someone asked what I wanted to do with my life. Even through college, honestly. I had a terrible time picking a major because no career path drew me in the way motherhood did. Of course I knew the pay was nonexistent so dutifully went to college and chose a theatre major because it was the only thing I could stand doing with my time. If I had to work, I guessed I wouldn’t be miserable working in theatre, biding my time until I got my big break in the parenting world.
Then reality hit when my husband and I were ready to start our family. After a handful of years sticking my feet in stage doors, I found myself happy and comfortable in a reasonably secure theatre job in New York City. Without noticing I was settled into a working world I had resisted for years in a place that had always scared the daylights out of me. I was proud of myself. Still yearning for motherhood, I had no trouble switching gears a bit but had to change my long held vision of four children to one. Living an artist’s life in New York City does not translate into the amount of living space one typically looks for with a large family.
Long story short, we had a baby and a year later decided to change our life plan. My husband applied to grad school and we moved to Colorado. While here we managed to create another human being and kept our noses to the grindstone. I got a job as a Resident Manager which allowed me to stay home with the kids and keep our heads just barely above water financially.
I’ve known my return to work outside my home is inevitable. We have to start chipping away at our debt as soon as that piece of paper hits my husband’s hands. In theory going back to work doesn’t scare me, despite having treasured my stay at home mom life. My time in New York taught me I do actually enjoy being a working mom, but envisioning specifics of my post grad school life has been impossible. Our work here has been grueling and rumors of the post grad school job market mysterious and scary. So I’ve done my best to live in the moment, day by day, for five years.
Now, here we are at the end of our Colorado chapter and I’m faced with it. In theory, I’m excited. I’m game. I’m also terrified and sad. I’m wrestling with what I know and what I feel, searching for harmony and finding none. I know once I get to work, I will find my rhythm but my feet are stuck in some serious mud on the path there and I need a hand getting out. Or maybe I just step out of my shoes and leave them behind.
Sarah Stith lives in Boulder with her husband and 2 children (2.5 and 5.5) while her husband attends grad school. Before moving to Colorado, the family lived in Brooklyn, NY where Sarah worked as a dresser at The Lion King on Broadway. She now works from home and manages to find time between diaper changes to build her organization, “Raising Little Heroes” (http://raisinglittleheroes.