This gal- Stephanie Totty of FroggyAndTheMouse.com- who I’m honored to have contributing here, has seen me through this entire motherhood journey, mostly by way of online friendship. I’m thrilled to bring her fresh perspective here. I adore her honesty, and I know she brings a valuable voice to this blog, especially as she shares a little about her journey as a mom who (happily) works out of the home.
Have you ever wanted something for so long, that one day you wake up and can’t remember why on earth you wanted it in the first place? That was me with kids and wanting to be a SAHM.
Wait, I can explain.
Lots of kids grow up thinking, ‘I want to be an astronaut’. Or, ‘I want to be a teacher’. Or, ‘I want to be a rodeo clown’ (whatever, it looks like a fun job). But not me.
I grew up thinking, “I want to be a mom.”
As I got older, and realized that money does not, in fact, just appear in your bank account or grow on trees, I I still wanted to be a ‘soccer mom’ … and that I would ‘find a husband who made enough money for me to stay home and be the most awesome mom ever’.
When I eventually met the love of my life (who happens to be amazing, and who also works retail), reality set firmly in. As we were both art history majors we both had jobs that were just that – jobs.
But somehow, I still clung to this romantic idea of the ‘amazing full-time mom’ gig that would eventually happen. We would get married, he would get a promotion, we would buy a little house and have sweet babies that I would take care of full time. Then, life happened. The husband did get a promotion, and we did buy a house – but we were not making enough money for me to stop working.
Then we had a baby – and he was amazing. But you know what else came with him? Hemorrhoids. Sleep deprivation. Mood swings. Breast-feeding battles. It was like the husband I were thrown into a lake of ice water and all of a sudden knocked out of this rose-colored dream we were living, and reality set in.
The husband got exactly 2 minutes of leave once our son was born, so I was home all by myself for the bulk of my maternity leave. And while I was spared full blown PPD, there was a good case of baby blues thrown in for good measure, along with just being plain bored out of my skull. I sat at home all day with my sweet baby, and thought, ‘Oh GAWD, I can’t take one more hour of a crying baby all by myself’.
I wasn’t exactly excited to leave my three month old and go back to work, but I wasn’t crushed either.
Even though I didn’t like my job all that much, getting back into a routine was a GOOD THING for me. When my second was born – I felt the same way. I craved the adult interaction, I needed the routine, I missed my alone time. It was amazing to both my husband and myself how much of a better mood I was in once I started back to work and had the opportunity to miss my kids.
Just over six years into this whole ‘raising small humans’ thing – we’re probably at the point financially now where I could decide not to work if I didn’t want to. There would be some major sacrifices, but we could make it work.
Now, six years later I now have a legitimate career, and actually love my job – I look forward to getting up and going into work and contributing to a company that I care about. My oldest just started first grade, and the youngest is thriving in pre-k. They’re both smart, and happy, and let’s be honest, have a way better time at their respective schools than they would at home with a surly, and stressed-out me.
But me realizing that I’m doing both myself and them a favor by working out of the home is probably the best thing that ever happened to our entire family.
And sure, it’s hard. Getting kids up and out the door by 7am, a full day of work, 2 hours commute, kid pickup, dinner/baths/homework/family-time, and then bed to start it all over again the next day is HARD. It’s a freaking beating – but you know what, the end result (a happy family unit) is totally worth it.
My biggest piece of advice to all new families is not about baby gear, or parenting techniques, or old, stupid lamentations (“sleep when the baby sleeps!” – ugh), it’s this:
Figure out what works for you and your family, and then do that. Then ignore all the haters – because your kids? They don’t care what people on the interwebz or your mother in law thinks – they only care about YOU.