When I took my maternity leave with my second baby I had every intention of returning to work. My husband and I were not exactly well-off. As the weeks dwindled down I knew we had to do whatever we needed for me to become a stay-at-home Mom. We drastically pared down our budget and I tearfully submitted my letter of resignation to the supervisor whom I adored. I loved my job and I knew there would be days ahead when I wondered whether I made the right choice. But I never anticipated just how much becoming a SAHM was going to mess with my head.
As a kid, I spent summers working at my family’s manufacturing company. When I was 17, I got my first waitressing job so that I could buy my prom dress. I worked all throughout college and since then have been gainfully employed. As it turns out, my job status became a huge part of my identity. All of a sudden I was unemployed. I could no longer use “I work in the nonprofit sphere” to describe myself.
My new job title became just “Mom.” And I took this new job title seriously. In fact, perhaps a little too seriously. When my husband wished I picked up “XYZ” on my weekly grocery trip, I took it as a poor performance evaluation. My husband was just sharing his preferences, but to me it felt like I was failing at my simple job. When family members questioned my parenting decisions or wondered why my baby still was waking regularly at night, I became defensive as both a parent, and a diligent employee.
I know there are tons of women who feel completely fulfilled by the job title of “Mommy.” Unapologetically, I am not one of those women.
This lack of a “legitimate” career fueled a full-on identity crisis. Rather than stew in a puddle of anxiety, however, I decided to take preemptive action. I know there are tons of women who feel completely fulfilled by the job title of “Mommy.” Unapologetically, I am not one of those women. I started regularly attending a Church I only frequented once or twice before. I’m involved in local politics. I volunteer my time with a local nonprofit to learn a new skill- grant writing. I’ve increased the regularity in which I publish blog content. I applied for a couple flexible, work-from-home positions to generate a small amount of supplemental income for my family.
As it turns out, despite the massive head trip it caused me, stay-at-home motherhood is a wonderful professional opportunity. Not having a full-time job has provided me with the time to pursue other areas of interest. I get to decide what I want to commit to, and the time-frame I’m willing to commit. I may not have a real job description, but I get to be Mommy and Church-goer/activist/volunteer/part-time worker extraordinaire!
Have you ever been a stay-at-home parent? Did you struggle to define yourself?