I want to preface this by saying that I do not judge women at all who chose to be strictly stay-at-home moms. Staying at home with kids is a hard and rewarding job for any parent, male or female. It just turned out not to be a good choice for me personally.
When I had my first child, I went back to work after 13 days. It felt like a knife was stabbing me in the heart, even though my child was staying with my husband and I was only working on a part-time basis. I worked night shifts and I would often pass the time in my mind thinking about what my baby girl was doing while I was away.
Six months later, my husband and I learned that it really only does take one time to get pregnant and boom, I was with child again. I worked throughout my pregnancy, up until about 6 weeks before having my child.
It was the first time in my whole life that I hadn't worked. I really didn't know what to do with myself.
When I was a child, my single mother worked her ass off so that we could have a good life. My life as a mother was nothing like that. We were by no means well off, but with careful budgeting we could afford for me to stay at home for a few months.
In the beginning I loved it, really I did. I thought that I was getting what I really wanted.
I had convinced myself that being a stay-at-home mom was what I really wanted —fueled by the memories of the absentee mom I had experienced during my own childhood. My mother worked a lot, but she also made plenty of time for her friends, and at times I often felt like an afterthought, insignificant because I wasn't first priority on her hang-out agenda.
As a sensitive child, I just didn't understand those things. As a mother, I wanted to be the polar opposite. I never wanted my kids to feel neglected or to think that I didn't want to spend time with them.
While I was on maternity leave, I lost my job. Not only did this throw a huge wrench in the equation, I suddenly realized becoming a stay-at-home mom was my only current option.
I didn't want to just find some lousy day job that would leave me with hardly any profit left over after the huge chunk that would be taken out to pay for the cost of childcare for a toddler and a baby.
Around this time, my husband switched companies and every other week he was putting in about 90 hours. This left me at home with two kids under two and no help to speak of. My mother had been recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer so there was no way I would ask her to help, not that she could have anyway in her frail condition.
I had dealt with anxiety a lot in my teenage years, and after I had my second child I felt it sneaking back up on me again. I didn't want to leave the house a lot of times because of the terrifying “what if's” bouncing around in my head.
Then I discovered the luxury of online shopping, spending frivolously because I was excited when the packages would show up at my door.
Then began the obsession with perfection, or anything superficial that I thought would, or could, make me happy. My nails had to be perfect, my hair, makeup, and my weight, most importantly. I was determined not to “let myself go” as an SHM. SHM was the acronym they—the stay-at-home moms on blogs—used.
Basically, my life consisted of bullshit that I hadn't cared about in a long time, maybe since high school, when I was nothing more than a stuck-up bitch with a chip on her shoulder. The chip came back when other moms I met would all ask me the same thing upon meeting me: “Oh, you 'just' stay home, right?”
My friends started wondering what the hell was going on with me, as did my husband. He's always been the type of guy to like a no-fuss type of woman, so he was pretty baffled about all of my newfound interests. And not to mention pissed off at the amount of money I was spending on crap I didn't need—and we certainly couldn't afford.
I've always been a reader and a writer, and in the two years that I didn't work I watched more television than I ever did in my entire life. Reality shows ruled my world, especially the stupid Real Housewives series.
I spent a lot of time crying, which is something I don't like doing in front of my children. The fact that my mother was dying didn't help. The only time I ever really had to be alone was in the shower, so it became my appropriate place for a good cry.
I hated the person that I had become: empty, bitter, superficial. So I stopped watching the stupid shows and started focusing on things that really mattered. I realized buying shit I didn't need wasn't going to make me feel better.
This is when I told my husband that I had to work. I needed something to make me feel whole. I didn't care what it was, but I wanted to earn something. I felt like I was losing the thing that had always been more important to me than anything else—my determination.
I've always been an extremely motivated person and I was unhappy because I knew I could do more than “just” stay home. I wanted to show my kids about hard work just like I'd learned. Turned out I was more like my mother than I originally thought.
My husband was supportive of the idea, eager to get the woman he married back. I bounced around with a few odds and ends jobs until I was able to turn a career working from home into a serious thing.
I've learned in this time that being a good parent is all about sacrifice, and now I get to have the best of both worlds. I get to earn a living working from home, and better yet, I get to be around my kids.
And most importantly, I feel like myself again.