Ten short years ago, I was a completely different person. Thriving in my career as a high school English teacher, I was passionately planning lesson plans that revolved around social issues like racism and sexism and immigration. Each night I sat at my dining room table underlining conjunctions and writing notes like “need punctuation” or “add transition here.” And even when my new role as Mom had started to form, I was still committed to my career. I was going to be a working mom and have it all.
Until I didn’t. Until one day, I held my new baby in my arms and realized I couldn’t do all the things in the way I wanted to do all the things—so I picked one. I chose to walk away from teaching and begin a new gig as a stay-at-home mom.
I told myself it wasn’t a forever choice. “Let’s just see how it goes,” I said. But another baby arrived two years later, and then another two years after that… And, well, you know the story.
10 years of diaper blowouts and searching for a mom I could befriend. 10 years of grocery story melt-downs and begging them to eat a vegetable. 10 years of pediatrician appointments where I’d hear “it’s just a virus, wait it out” while my child’s pale, exhausted little body slept in my arms.
10 years of mommy-ing all day and then mommy-ing all night, whether it was nursing the baby or rocking a toddler after a nightmare or changing sheets soaked with pee.
10 years of looking at the clock and wondering how in the hell it was only 11:00 in the morning since I’d hit the ground running six hours ago.
10 years of waiting for nap time and bedtime and then fighting the guilt that I wished for nap time and bedtime.
10 years of loneliness even though I was drowning in babies who clung to me all day long.
10 years of needing more, and not knowing how to admit I needed more.
And as of this fall, it’s over. The end of an era. My last baby is headed off to kindergarten. For the first time in a decade, I will have no children at home between 8:15 and 4:15 every day. Oh, the quiet. How many times this summer I’ve fantasized about the quiet.
I’ve already had a taste of it—what it’s like to have all the kids gone—since my little guy has been in preschool the past two years. For a couple of hours a day, I had no one asking for snacks or shooting me with a nerf gun or fighting with their siblings over who farted and trapped it under a blanket.
But I was also still very much a SAHM—with a preschooler who got out of school at 11:30. Who still needed help in the bathroom. Who couldn’t be left alone and who needed constant entertainment.
It’s time, my friends. And so help me I. AM. READY. Will I cry when he climbs the stairs of the bus that first day? Yes. I always cry. Kindergarten is a big deal. A game changer. Will he be overwhelmed? Will he get lost? Will he be able to open his lunch container? Will he give himself enough time to get the potty because of his serious FOMO?
I’ll worry all day.
And I’ll fucking celebrate all day, because holy shit am I ready.
I am ready to turn the page. I am ready for this next chapter.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t give up those years staying home with my babies. And I am damn proud of what I did. Because transitioning to a SAHM was one of the greatest challenges of my life. I had no idea how hard it was going to be. And had someone told me, I don’t think it would have mattered. Because it was even harder.
Those 10 years were lonely. And exhausting. And some days, empty. I longed for my career, yet knew I couldn’t do both. So I put it to the side and did one thing as best I could. But unfortunately, I lost myself along the way. I grew weary and resentful and weighed down with guilt for not loving every minute.
But now it’s my time to swim, and I can’t jump in the pool fast enough. It’s my time to remember who I was, and who I want to be other than a butt-wiper and snack bitch. I’m still Mom first and always will be. And that’s the way I want it. But there’s a whole other piece of me that sat buried for a long time. There just wasn’t time to let her out. There weren’t enough hours and I didn’t have enough energy.
I’m still a SAHM, but now I’m a mom of school-aged kids. I’ll probably still be room parent and volunteer for the occasional field trip. I work from home now, which also makes me a working mom. I have my own shit to do between 8:15 and 4:15 every day now, and damn it feels good.
I’m not sure what I’ll do first after waving them off on the bus that first day. Will I hop right on the computer? Take a few seconds to sit and reflect on this journey? Call a girlfriend I haven’t talked to in 5 years? Throw in a load of laundry? Go for a run? The world will be my oyster at that moment.
One thing I do know is that I will be excited to truly turn this page in my life. (And also drink a cup of coffee while it’s still hot.)