If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have chosen to be a SAHM.
There, I said it.
Don’t misunderstand me though. When I made the decision 13 years ago to stay home with my first child, I was doing the right thing for our family at the time. We were young, just starting out, and it made good financial sense for me to stay home and handle the house while my husband worked. And after years of being in the workforce, I welcomed the opportunity to slow down and explore the joys of motherhood on a daily basis.
I walked away from a lucrative, stimulating career, and I never looked back.
I spent the coming years in the trenches of motherhood, spending long days with diapers, bottles, and tantrums. I found fulfillment in raising happy children, and for a long time, it was enough that I was a mom. I was satisfied. Content to let my kids be my focus, I ignored the little voice in my head that sometimes wondered if leaving my career behind to become a SAHM was the right thing. For the most part, I could silence that voice, shoving it far away in the back of my mind.
These days, my kids are older, ages 10 and 13. They need me less and demand so little of my time. My house is quiet after the door slams shut at 7:30 in the morning, and there are only so many loads of laundry one can do to stay busy. After a period of adjustment when my daughter went to school full-time, I found the right balance of fitting in a few freelance assignments here and there while still being available for my family. I was “working” but was still the parent on call for sick child pickups and attendance at school events.
I was happy doing that, for a time. I felt like I was getting the best of both worlds, juggling my professional self and my mom self. I wanted to be available for my kids, but the insistent tug of dusting off my professional side was beginning to pull harder than ever. As my writing career has become more successful and job opportunities have come my way, I have found myself wrestling with my duties at home and chasing my professional dreams.
When I look at the dishes in the sink and the laundry in the pile, I think, When is it my turn? I’m finding myself angry and resentful that my mom duties are tying me down. I’m angry at myself for taking such good care of my family that it’s noticeable when the laundry is late or the pantry is empty. I feel as though I’m raging against the laundry machine. I’m done being the maid, the short-order cook, and the chauffeur. I’m ready to be the CEO of me and my professional needs. The kids are old enough to do their own laundry, and no one is going to die if they have to eat off of paper plates. Things are going to change around here, because this mama has dreams to chase. And if that means fewer home-cooked meals and a little extra dust on the coffee table, so be it.
When do I get to walk away from my SAHM job and take a flying leap back into my career?
That time is now.
And I’m not the least bit sorry.
For 13 years, I have given of myself to everyone around me. I’ve put off a career that I am now finally able to revive, breathe new life into, and I’m ready.
I won’t apologize for wanting to pull away from my role as mom and work toward a role as a woman whose kids will be leaving for college in the next few years. Just as I worked to redefine myself when my last child went off to school, I am faced with the fact that in a few short years, I will have half my life still in front of me to really chase my dreams. To get back what I lost when I left the professional world as my children arrived.
I will be able to be selfish in my choices. I will be able to make decisions about my career, without worrying about carpool and daycare and school plays. I will be able to work long hours and put time into something that fulfills me and awakens my creative side. I will be able to meet my husband for cocktails after work and have interesting things to say that don’t include reports on our children and their schooling.
While I wouldn’t change the experiences I had with my children as they’ve grown, I still wonder to this day how it was I was able to throw a professional career out the window so easily. How is it that I walked away without a backward glance? I realize now that anything I do professionally in the future will mean so much more to me because I know how hard it is to fight your way back to the person you used to be.
I was once a woman with a wonderful career and professional goals.
I will always be a mother, and that will never change.
But, very soon, I get to be the real me again.
And I can’t wait.