I’ve been meaning to write about making the transition from stay-at-home mom to work-outside-the-home mom. It has been one of the hardest things I’ve done, and a little scary to write about for fear someone might take it wrong. I was raised to believe that the most important job a woman could ever do is raise a family. I was also raised to value a college education. I was a very obedient child and young woman so I did both of those things. My husband and I met at the end of my first semester of college, and since we were in love, we got married the summer after my Freshman year. I remember getting close to graduation and telling myself that I wanted a briefcase as a graduation gift. I would daydream about what style I would choose. Then one day it hit me like a ton of bricks. “You’re married. You’re going to raise kids. You will never even need a briefcase.” And honestly, I was bummed. (Why do I ever listen to that annoying voice in my head anyway.) I graduated after three years of marriage, but struggled terribly to find a purpose in my college education. Somehow I interpreted the importance of motherhood as “you should never work”. I didn’t see the point of college. I’m SOOO grateful now, that despite my misgivings, I got my Bachelor’s Degree.
My first child was born two months after I graduated from college. I worked a little here and there until my husband graduated, but pretty much became a stay-at-home mom after that. Then I had a second daughter. The first few years of raising children was challenging. I loved my daughters. They were so cute and fun, but there were many times that I wished deep down that I was doing something more interesting. I wished a could come home with a paycheck that said I was worth this much (insert $$ here). I had to rely so much on an inner feeling that staying home with my children was important even if no one seemed to notice or tell me I was doing a good job.
My feelings about motherhood started to change when I got a part-time job (8 hours a week) working at a health club. I met other moms who worked. Wow – they were everything I wanted to be. This is what surprised me though. They envied me because I didn’t have to work. I was doing it to get a free club membership. They wished they could stay home with their kids. I’ve had two more children since then – a son and another daughter. I grew to be grateful for the time I had to wrap a child in a warm blanket and rock him or her until tears were dried and peace was restored. I loved puttering around the kitchen while my children emptied backpacks and ate their after school snacks.
I realize now that there is not ONE right way to be a woman and mother. I work six hours a day now as an accountant. I leave for work when my kids head off to school, and try to be home soon after school’s out. I love my job. I love using my brain in a way that I didn’t when I was home all day. I love coming home to my children and my cute little house. I love sitting down to eat dinner together. (I love it even more when I didn’t have to make the dinner.) I love having my husband stop by my work occasionally to have lunch with me or having him send me flowers at work. I REALLY love that! Life certainly is not perfect, and I make sacrifices to work outside the home. I don’t believe in having it all. And you know what? That is totally fine with me. I have everything I need.