In what feels like my previous life, I was a college writing instructor. Every semester, I taught seventy students how to write essays that would prepare them for their future college courses and careers. I started teaching college students when I was just 22 years old, and I adored my job. The students’ energy was intoxicating.
I was able to take a semester off work when each of my oldest two children came into our family by adoption. It was working out well until we were matched with an expectant mother with a vague due date of sometime in January. I had to make a decision. Did I start teaching that semester, if when the baby was born and we became his parents, I had to bail on my students last-minute? What if the placement didn’t happen, but I took an entire semester off work?
I decided to tell my boss that I was going to take the semester off and see what happened with the baby. That little boy became ours. And not only did I miss the semester, but I never went back to my job.
Deciding to become a stay-at-home-mom was hard for me. I’m type A, anxiety-ridden, and full of creativity. Suddenly I went from wearing dress pants and having a paycheck to not getting paid a cent and spending my days inside the four walls of my home. With three children under the age of four.
They had needs. Lots and lots of needs. Potty training (and potty accidents). Snacks. Medical appointments. Naps (and often, no naps). It was constant. My introduction to the SAHM life was in January, which for those of us in the Midwest is sheer torture. We were stuck inside, the four of us.
What have I done? I remember asking myself on the cold and chaotic days.
Being a stay-at-home-mom is harder than any job I’d ever had. Harder than teaching seventy college students, working retail and in the fast food industry, being a nanny. Part of my difficulty was the demands I put upon myself as a SAHM. I was supposed to be enjoying this life. After all, it was my decision to leave my job.
Here I am six years later, and I’m still a SAHM with no plans to return to work, not even when my youngest, who is a toddler, goes to kindergarten.
A lot has transpired since I left my teaching job. We added a fourth child to our family, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I found out one of my children has special needs. I’m busier than ever, taking care of my children, our home, and my own medical needs, which includes a chronic, autoimmune disease.
And my days? They are full. I am constantly trying to play catch-up. Marie Kondo’s philosophy has no place here. I barely have time to shower.
I’m often asked about my future plans by fellow moms. What about the degrees I worked so hard to earn? Don’t I miss interacting with adults and being a professional woman? What about the prestige that comes with a title other than Mom?
Yes, those things were nice. And there are days I fantasize about being a teacher again, commanding a classroom and feeling the buzz that only a college campus can generate. Of course, it was really nice to get paid.
But I am exceedingly thankful I made the choice I did six years ago. I was with my son when he said his first word and took his first step. I cuddled my kids on their sick days, took them to the library, and enjoyed a sunny day at the park. I didn’t stress about finding the perfect daycare for our newest baby.
This SAHM life means a lot of sacrifice. Every day, I struggle. I have to reschedule plans 75% of the time. My house is loud. Very loud. Like do-not-even-think-about-calling-me loud.
So you’d think the day I drop off baby girl to her kindergarten teacher, you’d hear my minivan tires squeal out of the parking lot as I speed off to my job. But it’s not going to happen. Because with four kids, there are always projects, sick days, medical appointments, extracurricular activities, and errands.
My mommy job isn’t ending the day my youngest heads to school. In fact, that will just be a new season of chaos.
I’m OK not going back to work now or in the future. I made a big change six years ago, and I have learned to embrace both the relentless exhaustion and privilege of being a SAHM.
And for those who judge my choice, take a number. Because I have a lot of other humans and tasks to deal with first.