Five years ago today, I said goodbye to Corporate America after a nearly 17 year career there.
I definitely miss it at times.
I miss the travel; I miss the income; I miss the socialization; I miss the mental challenges of it; I miss being part of a team and part of something bigger; heck, I miss getting dressed for work and living in more than a t-shirt and jeans every day (assuming I even make it out of my pajamas).
Because let’s be real here, the world doesn’t give a lot of love or a lot of credit to stay-at-home moms.
My world became very small (literally and figuratively) when I quit working.
One of the (many) reasons I left was because my husband and I wanted to start a family. We had decided that we wanted our children to be raised by a stay-at-home parent, and for any number of reasons, the logical choice was me.
I had already turned in my notice the December before, but I agreed to stay on until they hired my replacement.
I had it all planned out. I was going to step right from one job into the other, career woman to mom. And everything was going according to plan when we found out I was pregnant early that February.
Unfortunately, I had my first miscarriage about a month before my last day of work. And little could I have known what the next 2 ½ years would have in store.
Frankly, there was much distraction during those 2 ½ years: another pregnancy, another miscarriage…finding out I had a uterine anomaly…lots of doctors’ appointments, ultrasounds, and hour (or more) long drives to UCLA…meeting with a fertility doctor…having surgery…fertility treatments…giving myself shots…more ultrasounds…acupuncture…Chinese herbs…chiropractic treatments… I did it all.
Then we started discussing other ways of growing our family: fostering…private adoption attorneys…private agencies…public agencies… And on and on.
We also moved… out of the city and into the suburbs. And I was still seeing a therapist for PTSD from a near-fatal assault I’d been through in 2011.
In early 2015, when we decided to go the private adoption route, we immediately dove into all the paperwork and the home study. We ended up getting matched pretty quickly, and suddenly we are preparing to bring a baby into the home.
Did I mention I was well-distracted during this time?
Then in the wee hours of one September morning, we got word that the woman who had chosen us to raise the baby she’d been carrying had given birth to him.
We jumped on a plane, jumped through some hoops, signed more paperwork, then waited a few days at an Airbnb for clearance to finally bring him home.
And there we were, living happily ever after… right?
All those things that had been distractions for 2 ½ years – the activity, the appointments, the changes, the paperwork, the anxiety and apprehension – it all came to a screeching halt. Most of the outside world fell away. It was just me, my husband, and our tiny little son, in our tiny little world.
And the work of parenting began.
Those first few months were HARD. Sleep deprivation, nighttime feedings, figuring out the cries, figuring out what the baby needs, checking to make sure he was breathing (I was terrified of SIDS).
Eventually we got into a rhythm. And began catching glimpses of the outside world again.
Oh yeah, I’m a stay-at-home mom now. This is what I signed up for. This is what I wanted. Right…?
I saw my friends and family talking about their careers, working on exciting projects, traveling the world, getting dressed in real clothes and doing their hair and makeup.
I used to do all that.
Now I was knee deep in tracking my baby’s feedings and diapers and naps, getting random stains out of his clothes and mine, figuring out how to get errands and things done around his sleep schedule, lugging the car seat in and out of stores and navigating it while shopping (have you ever tried to put anything from CostCo in a shopping cart that is being occupied by an infant car seat?).
My world consisted of guessing at why he might be crying, taking him in the bathroom with me and hoping I’d given him enough toy distractions long enough for me to take a shower, wondering what that weird rashy thing on his face was, texting my mom friends to ask about said rash or any myriad of other things, googling symptoms late at night and concluding that he had the plague and was definitely going to die.
Yes, I signed up for this.
Yes, I love my son to death.
And yes, I still want more.
I want to do things that are just for me. I want to do things that I find fulfilling. I want to do things that aren’t related to being a mom.
What are those things?
I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. Heck, I don’t even know what questions to ask much of the time. I’m often too busy trying to keep up with a very active 2 ½ year old. Sometimes I completely lose the ability and vocabulary to speak intelligently with another adult.
But please don’t count me out. I’m smart, skilled, and resourceful. I’ll have free time and mental capacity again… someday.
So if you see a mom today, consider giving her a hug. Chances are she needs it more than she knows and will appreciate it more than you realize.
Oh, and don’t mind the stain on her t-shirt.