On many days I’ve become my own worst nightmare. I was never the girl who dreamed of being a mom. If anything, I spent most of my adult life satisfied with the idea that I might never have kids. I’m college educated and have worked my ass off at every job I’ve ever had. Somehow I was going to “rise above” because having children and staying home would be the easy thing to do. But, things change. At 29 I got pregnant and although it was unplanned, my partner and I knew (after a few anxiety attacks) that we were ready to start a family together once the opportunity was in front of us.
Parenthood was always black and white to me. Either you were a working parent or you were a stay-at-home parent. Being a working mom was the obvious option for me because “anyone could be a stay at home mom,” I thought. Even as I left for maternity leave as editor-in-chief of a men’s magazine at 40 weeks (I didn’t have Oliver until I was 41 weeks) I believed the chances of me staying at home were highly unlikely. Even when I was sitting on my couch answering work emails while clumsily breastfeeding my baby at 6 weeks postpartum I somehow tried to convince myself that I was balancing things.
But then the magazine that I lived my last 5 years at, folded, and oddly enough, I was happy about it. Of course there were sad parts, my work family was being torn apart, but, my real family was just beginning. I found that my biggest struggle though, was the stigma of becoming a stay at home mom overnight. Not necessarily because I didn’t want that (did I?) but because I didn’t see that option coming. How would people recognize me without a desk glued to me? And what if I started sputtering on about my baby uncontrollably? They’d think that I’d become that stay-at-home mom I always feared. What I feared, I’m not quite sure of anymore. Maybe it was the sacrifices I had seen from moms before me. Dreams being forgotten of because of their little ones. But at 29, I had lived many dreams out. And now at 31, I’ve been living out a brand new one that I never saw coming.
I see the look in the eyes of younger females or even friends who are nowhere near the baby zone kind of glaze over once my conversation veers into babyland. I don’t blame them, I was there not so long ago, thinking “aw, that’s sweet, please don’t ever let me become that.” Thankfully, I’ve met a few moms I can have those conversations with, revolving around diapers and nap schedules I once viewed as mindless.
Luckily, I’ve learned a few things in this very short year. I’ve learned that SAH moms surprisingly don’t sit on their asses all day and that there is no such thing as a lunch break (hell, a bathroom break would be a gift on most days). I’ve learned that those cheesy “Being a mom is the hardest job in the world” quotes suddenly aren’t so cheesy anymore. I’ve learned that for SAH moms, there is no such thing as leaving the office. There is no such thing as being off. It is more emotionally, physically and mentally demanding than I could have ever imagined. I’ve learned that it is really hard to become bored and that some of the most beautiful moments happen on long and quiet walks. I’ve also learned that uninterrupted showers are highly underrated and that the things I work for other than my family need to strike a chord in me. I’ve learned that a lot of career driven women have willingly taken this route because they want to and others find that having a Nanny or sending their baby to daycare in New York just doesn’t add up. I’ve learned that I am still the same person, the way I spend my time is just different. I’ve also learned that staying home doesn’t make you any less of a feminist, the same way going to work doesn’t make you less of a mom.
I never did stop writing or editing. At the moment I’m lucky enough to attempt this whole freelance thing, writing, editing and even launching a website from home around my parenting schedule. This mostly means means working nights and nap times. See? Not so black and white. And while some days I’m overwhelmed and worried about how we might keep up our lifestyle, on most days, I’m grateful for where I am today. Also, those mindless conversations I was so worried about having? Well, those have become the ones that have any real weight to them. Because hey, I’m raising a human here.
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