Wednesday, October 1, 2014:

Could Staying Home With My Kids Be The Best Thing For My Career?

--I'm not entirely sure if this post is truly ready for publication.  But I've sat with it for a few nights already and, try as I might, I can't make it tighter or more relevant.  So, I'll quote an old boss (funny based on the content of this post), "pencils down".--

Long before I had kids, I knew I was going to be a stay at home mom.  I'm not sure why or how, but I just knew, in my heart, that I would be home with my kids during their first years of life.

Nevertheless, I envied my co-workers who could be so caught up in a project that they'd pack up their laptops and overflowing folders so that they could "plug back in" when they got home.  I wanted to be as driven and passionate about my line of work.  But try as I might, I just wasn't.

Sure, occasionally I would log back on.  And my husband would argue that I would check my work emails way too frequently.  But that was less of an "impassioned professional" and more of a proactive "let's mitigate the amount of emails I need to respond to on Monday" approach.

I would respond to a few emails- cc'ing my boss so that she could see I was "still working" at 11:30pm.  I felt a certain amount of professional pride (look at me, burning the midnight oil!) while at the same time smuggly chanting, "Work to live, don't live to work people!"

Sometimes I felt conflicted by the idea of staying at home after so much money had been put into my education- - going so far as to run the numbers to see if my seven years in corporate america earned me enough to cover my Boston College education (it didn't, if you're wondering- not even before taxes).

Nonetheless, I was thrilled when my husband and I agreed we were ready to have a baby- the SAHM countdown could commence and I could lose the ambitious corporate work-horse charade. 

My pregnancy announcement was as good as my final resignation and if I could have had a drink, I would have toasted myself to celebrate the seven long years that this SAHM to-be spent in a role that she didn't really like all that much.  Cheers to that!

Fast life changed in a matter of irregular contractions and vacuum suctions.  

Here's the thing about babies... With jobs, you can quit.  But with babies, you can't.  I have never felt more trapped than when I was "living my dream" of being a stay at home mom.  A fellow blogger- Love is Blonde- described it as "the neverendingness"- and it is spot. on.   I was just so blown away at the neverendingness of it.  

I couldn't step out for lunch.  I couldn't shoot an email to my boss to get more clarity on a project.  I couldn't ask for additional support on managing a pitch.  I couldn't pack my bag at the end of the day and walk away from it all for the night.  It just never.ended.

Most of my lucid maternity leave moments were spent weighing the pros and cons of going back to work.  It offered a break from the relentless demands of parenting while opening the doors to the relentless demands of a boss.

I was beginning to realize that I may not have liked my job, but I did like to work- to be a part of a productive team that played a pivotal role in the assembly line of a project affecting the greater whole; to have relevant commentary among my professional peers beyond diaper changes and feeding schedules.  

I wanted to return to work to maintain a balance but I feared returning to work would take over my new mom role.  And on the other hand, I feared that resigning from professional work completely and being a parent full time would isolate me from the rest of society (it did) and leave me living a life on the social sidelines, watching my working mom (and non-mom) friends maintain their multi-dimensioned selves while I withered away to the single-dimensioned-ness that is stay-at-home parenthood.

I looked for part time work.  Some sort of parent/professional balance.  But there was nothing that paid me enough to justify the cost of childcare.

I would say out loud that I wanted to work, all while my internal SAHM instincts grappled with rational thoughts of returning to the workforce- almost as if my mouth was willing my brain (and heart) to change their minds.  

I couldn't believe that, for the foreseeable future, my life existed solely to establish the life of another being.  Day in. Day out.

And that's just what I did.  Playdates, parks, and pools.  Repeat.  For the last three years, I was the typical SAHM.  But beneath it all, there was always a desire to do more, to be more.

And slowly, in between naps and late night feedings, something was cultivating itself.  Somehow the repressiveness of motherhood was simply squeezing my ambition and realigning it in the direction I'm currently pointed in.  And while I can't sit here and type what it is that I am doing, what has given me energy, enthusiasm, and (if we're being honest), an escape- I know I am on track and I know I've found it.  And I am going to keep plugging away at it until something sticks.  Until I can say that choosing to stay at home with my kids has helped me create my career.


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