After several years working insane hours in a high-pressure job, I now find myself in the roll of stay-at-home mother. It is quite an adjustment. I’m not exactly sure what I expected. I knew it would be both difficult and rewarding, but I wasn’t prepared for how intense the low points would be, nor how sweet the high points would be.
I was prepared for the constant demands. The incessant wining. The never-ending diapers. Never being able to finish a task without being interrupted. The inevitable tantrums.
It’s not as though I didn’t experience any of this when I was working. It’s just that, after a day or two, I got to leave it for a while and go to work. Where I interacted with other adults, exercised my mind, got promotions. There is no promotion from mother.
It’s ironic that, when my first was born, I’d have given anything to stay at home. I was so heartbroken leave her at daycare, a feeling that was only exasperated by postpartum depression. It didn’t ease until I had my second child, and learned that my children were not only well cared for at daycare, but thriving at daycare, that I was released from the guilt.
I wasn’t prepared for the loss of identity.
I’ve worked, at least part time, since I was sixteen. I didn’t expect to feel inferior to my husband due to transitioning from being the breadwinner to bringing in no paycheck at all.
I went to school for a total of 21 years. I didn’t expect to feel like the accumulated wealth of knowledge obtained through years of education and experience was slowly leaking out of my ears.
Since working full time I never had enough time to keep the house in order or engage in any hobbies. I wasn’t expecting to be bored after only three weeks.
But there is sweetness. Hearing my two-year-old regale me with her observations on life. Hearing my 11-month-old babble in a language only she understands. Watching the two play together.
And I’m able to be there for them. When they’re sick. Without worrying about how to negotiate time away from work. To not worry about how to get them to daycare in time, and who to pick them up. I’ve already said more times than I can count, “Thank god I’m not working.” Not because I hated work, but because juggling two full time working parents and two young children was impossible at times.