I never realized how much becoming a mom was going to change my perspective and my plan. I always wanted to be a mom, but I never wanted motherhood to define me completely. I had big plans for my future, professionally, and I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way, not even motherhood. I wanted to be a working mom, and I was confident that I could do both successfully. For me, there was no other way. But, surprise! Here I am as a stay-at-home mom. My life that once was filled with deadlines, meetings, and business trips is now filled with dirty diapers, mountains of laundry, and Baby Shark. It hasn’t been easy getting to this point, but with a lot of soul searching, patience, and acceptance, I can finally say with confidence that I am proud to be a stay-at-home mom.
Shortly after my son was born, I was at a party chatting with another guest whom I had never met. A few minutes into our conversation he asked me, "What do you do for a living?" In the past, I didn't mind answering that question. Sharing what I did for a living made me feel accomplished -- it made me feel validated. I was contributing to the world and building a solid foundation for myself, and I was proud of it. However, answering that question felt different this time. I reluctantly answered, "I stay at home with my son." It was the first time that I had ever said that out loud, and it felt so strange. I immediately felt paranoid when the words came out of my mouth as if he was going to judge me. Without hesitation, he said, "That is great! Good for you! They grow so fast so enjoy every minute!". I appreciated his advice, but it didn't feel great to me. I felt embarrassed, and I certainly did not feel proud.
Over time, I have realized that it wasn't the fear of judgment that bothered me the most. It was the fear of losing all of the knowledge and technical skills that I worked so hard to acquire. I didn’t want to become out of touch with the professional world. I didn’t want to become invaluable. If someone asked me to do a mail merge now, I would probably look at them with complete and utter confusion. But, in exchange, I could offer them my famous peanut butter and jelly sandwich or sing them my special version of "Old McDonald Had A Farm." That’s totally comparable, right? What I have discovered these past two years, is that motherhood is far from simple -- it’s complicated, exhausting, and messy. It’s unlike any job that I have ever had. Looking on the bright side, the skills that I have acquired as a mom can certainly be transferrable one day. I have become a master negotiator, manager, mentor, researcher, and multi-tasker, and you know what? These skills ARE worthy of acknowledgment and praise.
I plan to return to work in a few years once my children are in school. Sure, I will have to relearn many things and will have to work a little harder to keep up, and that’s okay. I will have the same work ethic and the same drive as I did before to achieve my goals. I will become the successful career woman that I always dreamed I would be. But, no matter how much money I make or how powerful I feel, I will never forget about my old life as a stay-at-home mom. I will smile when I think about all of the memories that my children and I created and how I felt when I was there to witness all of their "firsts." Like when my son discovered his shadow for the first time while we were at the park and how he jumped up and down with excitement.
In the meantime, I will cherish this unexpected life of mine. We will enjoy our days together making messes, building forts, and playing hide-and-go-seek. I will be their best friend, and they will be mine. I no longer want to feel embarrassed to tell someone that I am a stay-at-home mom because this is the most important position that I will ever hold. I am exactly where I am meant to be at this stage of my life. The truth is, I have already achieved my greatest dream, which was to become a mom. I am not just proud to be living this life; I am thankful.