I have been a stay-at-home mom for 8 months now (as I paused to count the months, I had to do it thrice because I really couldn't believe it has only been that long). Before this, I was a professional working woman. I loved working. I loved making my own money, taking on tasks and aggressively and ambitiously pursuing their completion to success. I loved being in the office and being productive and feeling important in my role. I knew of women who stayed home to care for their kids and would often say I could never be one of them. I believed myself to lack the patience, dedication, ability to self sacrifice, and overall desire to be home with my kids all day long. My work was fulfilling, and when it wasn't I easily and eagerly set out to make it so.
However, upon our return to New York City, after a 3 year absence, I realized that with all that had changed, not only in the city (it had become even MORE expensive), but in my family as well (I returned with even MORE kids) we would forced to make a decision I had never once considered. Staying home with the kids.
At first, I was a bit terrified, but took it on as I would any new project given to me in the office. I rolled my sleeves back and set to do the things that I imagined moms did when home with the kids. I played, and cleaned, and cooked, and played, and jogged, and played, and painted, and read, and played, and cleaned, and cooked, and over again. And I made it a point to be groomed and smiling when my husband came home.
It seemed like the perfect routine. Until about the beginning of month 2. Then I was worn out.
Playing and prepping snacks seemed like the constant activity, but it took energy away from the cleaning, self grooming, jogging, and cooking. My husband started coming home to an apartment full of toys everywhere and with me in a state of complete exhaustion, looking a disheveled mess.
And for a moment I was depressed. I had felt I was loosing myself in this new role. With no one to congratulate me or praise me during the day on my well accomplished projects (i.e. potty training my 3 year old in under two months time) or my efficiency in damage control (i.e., defusing a 2 year old meltdown with out loosing my cool), I was beginning to wonder if I had made a mistake. I was sad that the professional, ambitious go-getter in me was dying. With little recognition, no pay, and long, long hours of work, I was beginning to wonder if this was one of those jobs that just wasn't the right fit for me.
I began to look for work and day cares. But as I skimmed through the various public relations opportunities out there, i started thinking about the hours away from my children. I started wondering if the sitter I would get would sit with them and read their favorite airplane book to them three, four, five times. What if they had a boo-boo that only they can see but that the Scooby-Doo band-aid would make feel better, would this person care? Or what if they spoke to the caregiver in their bilingual language, such as "I want mas agua, pees", would they understand? How would it change things if now it was both me and Daddy coming home later in the evenings? When would we play, talk, laugh? Would we really only have two days a week to take each other in completely? How much money would it take to make giving up time with them worth it?
And as all these questions ran through my mind, I realized that I would be sad not being there for them, and instead of feeling sorry for myself, I started feeling grateful that I could be.
It still took me awhile to learn to balance things. I often get a chance to bathe before my husband gets home, but decided to believe him when he says he doesn't care, and I cook most nights of the week, often bringing in my two little assistants to help me through as I try out new recipes. I have also started a photo blog, documenting our outings throughout the city and rating them on their level of kid-friendliness, thus finding a new passion in both photography and writing.
I have discovered other new things about myself: I am a lot stronger, sensitive, and patient then I ever thought i was. I love my children more then I ever thought i did, (and am sorry I missed these years when my 11 year old was younger) and I married a really great guy, which I kinda knew, have had proven to me in so many different ways now.
Thus to think it has only been 8 months since my life not only changed completely, but I've also rediscovered myself and turned hobbies into lifelong goals, seems amazing to me. It's also a sign that the things I liked about my former professional self are still alive and well, but I like the mommy in me so much better and I thank my boys for helping me find her.
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