The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind, but now that the dust has settled, I can finally catch my breath. The big announcement is that I officially left my career and am once again a stay-at-home mom. The road to this decision was fraught with questions, doubts and more than one panic attack, but ultimately, it was the only decision that was right for our family.
As the reality of Bean’s impending arrival began to sink in, we took a good, long look at our options, which were basically to continue my full-time, high-stress job and find some sort of child care for Bean and the Heathens, or leave my career and focus on being a full-time wife and mom again. Financially, both options were not optimal. Losing my income may turn out to be financial suicide, but when we added up all the costs associated with two working parents, we realized I would probably be giving most, if not all of my salary to child care and incidentals. Either way, our finances were going to require serious reconsideration.
With no clear answers, we stepped back from the money issue, and finally took a good long look at what we really want for our family. Certain truths became glaringly self-evident.
Right now, I am not the kind of mom I want to be, and our home-life is not reflective of who we are as a family. Somehow, things began to deteriorate in the past year. The pressure of being a full-time, working mom was bad enough, but both my husband and I were desperately trying to balance our demanding careers with our family life, and we were failing miserably. Well, I was, at least. My career required enormous mental and emotional resources, and though it was incredibly rewarding, it was nearly impossible to compartmentalize.
The work-weeks became more about survival, and the weekends turned into a stressful marathon of catching up and endless to-do lists. Our home began to feel less like a haven and more like a burden of never-ending needs that we wanted to hide from. I struggled to keep up with the Heathens’ school work and activities, and was always dropping the ball in some way. Instead of being focused on helping them excel, I could only make sure we did just enough to get by.
I think what really started to get to me was that I lost the joy I once had in being a mom. I used to love planning birthdays, holidays, meals and family events…that is, until I began to dread them as just one more thing I had to get done. I was sinking under the weight of my exhaustion and apathy. It wasn’t my job’s fault, and it certainly wasn’t my family’s fault. It was simply a matter of me realizing that I had spread myself too thin, and I needed to prioritize what was really important to me.
Before anyone gets their panties in a twist, I’ll be the first to say the whole “Mommy Wars” debate is totally ridiculous. I’ve seen working moms who put Martha Stewart to shame, and stay-at-home moms whose kids might as well have been raised in wild. Working versus staying at home isn’t the issue… moms, families and individual situations are far too diverse for us to assume there is ever one “best” way to raise our kids. All options have their own pros and cons, it’s just a matter of finding what’s right for each individual family.
Right now, this is what’s best for us. Being back at home full-time is going to take some getting used to, but so far, the simple act of slowing down has already done wonders for all of us. Though I’ve spent first few days mostly running the 200 errands I’ve put off for months, the stress level in our house is noticeably lower. I have some catching up to do, and getting our house and lives back under some type of organization is my most pressing objective.
Why? Did I mention that I only have a couple of weeks till Bean arrives? Yeah…She’s coming a bit early, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.