When first Ryley and then Grace was born, I knew I was not going to stay home with them. First, we couldn’t afford to lose my salary. Second, hardly I knew stayed home with their kids except a random few. Third, there was no support system of other stay-at-homes in our neighborhood to help keep me from losing my mind. I took extended time off with both, but then I went back to work and they both were in an amazing daycare.
When E came along, I was working at a job I hated. And I was surrounded by friends who all stayed home. M’s career was on track. Things were different. We made the decision for me to stay home. It was a HUGE adjustment for me. Granted, in the five years that followed his birth, I worked part-time in an office, full-time in an office, and part-time from home. Three years ago, I was laid off and haven’t looked back.
I love that I am the one to drop off and pick up my kids. I love that I am around to get them to and from their activities. I love that I am able to go on field trips, volunteer in their classrooms, know who their friends and their friends’ parents are. I love that I can get cleaning, laundry, errands and such done on the weekdays when they are at school so that weekends don’t have to be spent taking care of those things. I love that I can have lunch with my friends during the week.
The dynamic has been changing over the past few years though. Many of my stay-at-home friends are returning to offices and full-time work. I am almost in the minority now. Of the fourteen girls on Grace’s soccer team, I was one of two moms at home full-time. Lately, I find myself apologizing and/or explaining why I “still” am a stay at home mom, probably due to my own insecurities more than any judgement I’ve received from anyone else.
I know I have absolutely no desire to be back in the office 9-5. And I don’t want a job just to have a job. But I begin to wonder at my value and contribution. I have a degree, but the extent to which I use it anymore is in editing my own writing and helping my kids with their language arts homework and writing projects. I know what I do for our home and family is invaluable. And I spend countless hours volunteering for the March of Dimes, at school, and with the kids’ various teams/activities. But I’m beginning to feel I should be doing more.
What do I want to be when I grow up? How do I want to spend my time? What do I want to do to contribute and feel I add value to not only our family but our world? I’ve made list upon list of the things I enjoy, the things I know how to do, the experiences I’ve had and skills I’ve developed. But how does that all translate? This really isn’t about finding a job, I think it’s more about finding me and being okay with whatever I do, whether that continue to be a stay-at-home, or getting out there in the world. That is my biggest struggle…my battle with myself and my own feeling of value and contribution.