I was going to write about my choice to stay home mom a few years ago when it was fresh. It’s a decision many new parents struggle with. But then I got scared. What if I offended someone? It’s such a touchy topic. So the idea died, as most of my half-written drafts do (the reasons for my fears and paralysis in writing might come out in another post one day, if I’m not too scared to write it:).
In a rare bold move, I reached out to the creator of the site spit up is the new black to ask if she would be interested in letting me guest post. She was, and thought it would be a good idea if I wrote a post on this very topic, why I chose to be a stay at home mom. It was a great push to face my fear. So here my post (a very similar version was originally published on spitupisthenewblack.com).
If anyone was going to be a stay at home mom, it wasn’t me. When my husband and I got married, we weren’t sure if we wanted kids. And I made sure when deciding if we would get married, that I was not expected to be a stay at home mom (or maid).
My mom had three children, worked, and I went to several babysitters to make it all possible. And in my naïve-early-20’s-mind, it couldn’t get much better than me, so clearly I didn’t need to be a stay at home mom. Having big dreams and ambition were what made me feel alive, and I was afraid that staying home would suffocate me. And being totally honest, I observed a few moms who decided to stay home, and it looked terribly hard, frustrating, and I didn’t know if I could handle it.
But you guessed it. I chose to be a stay at home mom. I’m skipping a huge portion of life here to explain how we came to the place of wanting kids, but I’ll stick to the point. And, before I go further, my choices and circumstances are not yours. Each child is unique. Each scenario its own. So please DON’T let that guilt creep in when I explain my decision.
With that said, there were six reasons:
- I didn’t like my job. It was still hard to give up though. I worked at a cool up-and-coming software company in Southern California that was clearly going to hit it big. It would have made financial sense for me to stay. But money is not the only factor. My husband and I would have voted for the other person to stay home but he was happier at his job. And my boobs were way more popular with our kids. The company did in fact, “hit it big”. I had some “if I had only stayed” moments, but really, money can only do so much.
- We could afford to do it, with sacrifices. We couldn’t buy our ideal house. We kept our old cars. We were careful on purchases. But I know that it is a privilege to have the choice.
- I took people’s advice to heart. People said things like “you can always work and make money, but you can’t always stay home with your kids” and “it goes by so fast” (to which I sometimes do not agree. But I see their point).
- Breastfeeding was important to me, but it was horrendously difficult. My first-born would nurse for 80 minutes at a time. And by the time she finished nursing, it was about time for her to be hungry again. I was basically a couch potato with boobs. But for my daughter to continue nursing, I didn’t think I could work. My son was another story; he ate in five minutes.
- We lived far away from family (1,850 miles). So there wasn’t an option to have grandparents watch the kids a day or two a week. And as for hiring someone, I’m more of a risk-adverse control-freak than I thought. I read one story about an abusive babysitter and now in my mind, every babysitter is a potential criminal. We have used babysitters, and there are many who are amazing, but finding them is a challenge. If you have one you love, hold on tight and treat them right because I might have to do some nanny-snatching!
- It wasn’t her fault, but my daughter was a very difficult baby. I didn’t think colic was a real thing until COLIC was all that I was dealing with. Seriously, my daughter screamed like someone had slammed her fingers in the door… ALL THE TIME. It was so intense, that I’m surprised I survived. But with that, I didn’t think someone who didn’t have the supercharged hormonal love, could handle it, because I was barely hanging on. This was one of the biggest factors in my decision to stay home while on maternity leave (a.k.a. purgatory for mom’s to decide what they are going to do with their lives).
Being a stay at home mom was just as hard (and harder) than I expected. I’m still antsy. In fact, as many of you know, I’m in grad school part-time now. Staying at home or not, becoming a mom broke many parts of me. But it also brought me new life, in the form of passions, realizations, what it means to be a caregiver, and to just be. I might have been a happier mom if I had gone back to work or had the option to work part-time. But I think this is a classic “the grass is greener on the other side” situation. Had one or more factors been different, my decision may have been different as well. But with the circumstances we were given, I’m happy with my choice.
Now that my kids are almost two and four, things are getting ever so slightly less insane, and I see kinder-freak-me-out-garden right around the corner, and I’m starting to relish in the moments that suddenly seem fleeting.