If you know anything about me, you will know that I basically struggle every single day with the fact that I don't go into work. I know, I know, being a stay at home mom is the hardest job on the planet. I've heard it many times. Yes, it is difficult, but it's still a struggle wondering if I am doing what is best for me. I'm sure I'm doing what is best for my girls, I have no doubts about that. I also admit, my life is much much easier now that I have free time instead of the constant feeding, chasing, and playing schedule that I once had.
Ever since the Bear was born, I would dream of "getting away" to work for a bit. A part time job would just be ideal. Come to find out, that's what most stay at home moms feel, but unfortunately there aren't a lot of part time jobs out there.
I feel like there are a variety of us. The ones that live for their kids and think that staying at home is the best thing in the world, and the other moms that thought it would be best for the family but aren't quite sure it is best for themselves. I think I am the mom that thinks it is best for my family but not sure about if it is best for me.
This post was triggered by a conversation I had at soccer last night with another stay at home mom. One that fits in the first category. Inevitably, when your youngest nears kindergarten, people will start asking you if you'll go back to work. I throw that option around in my head all the time. In my family, we are very fortunate that I don't have to go back to work. Yes, the extra money would be nice, but it is not something we need. Because I don't have to, I look at my friends who try to juggle work, sports, family, and actually having a personal life. I do not envy them, and so this is my take on the whole stay at home parenting thing with regards to my life...
When my kids were babies and toddlers, being a stay at home mom was the most difficult job I have ever had. It was 24/7, it was demanding, and the only reward I got was tons of crying and diaper changes with a few hugs, smiles, and kisses. For many, that is enough. For me, it made me cry...a lot. No free time, no life to do what I wanted to do, no job to give me my identity, it was hard. As the Bear got older and went to preschool, I started to get a tiny bit of me time and life wasn't as difficult. It's amazing what 2 hours to yourself will do for your mood. Then, Little was born and the free time went away again. Fortunately, I had hubby around a lot more and I knew what to expect with my second, so it wasn't as difficult. I still felt the pull to have my me time and dreamed of getting my identity back with a job.
As the Bear got older and started kindergarten and Little started preschool, I finally felt like I could breath. I started working out more, I started hanging out with my friends more. I started finding my identity that no job could give me. Without having a job, I was able to explore who I feel I really am. I am no longer a video editor as I was when I went into work. I am a social and active person. After 7.5 years, I can say I am so grateful to my husband for working hard and for giving me this opportunity to let my life fall into place. I am happy with where I am. I no longer feel life as a stay at home mom is the most difficult thing in the world. Getting through those first 6 - 7 years was tough, I'll admit, but I'm sure it was best for the kids even if it wasn't the best for me at the time.
Now, this comes back to my conversation with the mom at soccer. When both girls are in elementary school, I don't want to go back to work full time. I want to find something to do to keep me busy and make money, but my job does not give me my identity. I want to be there after school, I want to travel and go to the pool in the summer. I respect the women who work full time (whether they want to or have to) and shuttle their children everywhere and juggle home life. I think that is the most difficult job when your children are elementary age. I can't imagine juggling it all, and for that, you working moms get my respect and my working mom friends around here know I am always here to help you in any way I can.
The mom at soccer said to me, "I don't see myself being a CEO and I don't care about being the best at work. All I care about is being the best mom I can be and that means I won't go back to work, ever." I think what I care about is being the best to me that I can be because that will make me be the best mom I can be, whether I stay at home or work. Maybe it's selfish, but I have decided that when you lose your identity as a person then you can't be the best mom, wife, or friend until you find it again.