Since quitting my job, I have had several people ask me about whether I like being home with my children during the week. I’ll be honest here, I did have a smidgen of fear in the back of my mind when I had quit my job that I would not be able to handle the constant company of my two kiddos. Moms certainly need their alone time and time with other adults. But my whole heart knew that being home with my kiddos was what was going to cure me and help me find myself again.
Before the last day of my full-time job, I was running on empty. I was running on empty at work, at home and in my own mind. I had been warned by others that I was burning the candle at both ends and needed to ask for help with some of my responsibilities while my husband was finishing his first semester of grad school. But I was too stubborn to ask for the help I needed. I kept pushing myself. I kept telling myself, “You have to do this; you have no choice.” Finally, I called in sick on a Monday and asked my mom about whether my insurance would cover a visit with a shrink. She mentioned that my husband’s work and insurance provider might have a program that covers up to three or five free visits with a therapist. Sure enough, the EAP program through my husband’s work offered three free sessions of therapy with a professional who was approved by the program. I scheduled an appointment after researching therapists in the Twin Cities, and then I cried the rest of the day until I picked up my children from daycare because I didn’t understand where I was at anymore.
I was nervous to go to my first therapy appointment, but I was also relieved knowing that I would be able to talk to someone about everything that was going on inside my mind. I made the appointment on a Monday but couldn’t get in until Thursday. Making it to that Thursday was challenging. My husband was out of town for the entire week and I was beginning to feel desperate. I needed to talk to someone. I needed to know that it would not be crazy to quit my job. I needed to know that I was not having a mental breakdown and that I simply needed to make some changes to bring happiness into my world again. During my first appointment, my therapist assured me that whatever was going on with me was treatable. She suggested medication to help with my anxiety and to help me sleep at night. I have an aversion to meds, so I informed my therapist that I wanted to avoid taking medications. She understood, and as we continued talking, she helped me realize that I was so unhappy because I was sacrificing what was most important to me by continuing to chase old values and goals and by trying to live up to what I felt was expected of me. It was good for me to talk to a neutral party. It felt good to be heard and understood without being judged and told what to do or what not to do. I felt really good about making the choice to leave my job, and I feel even more confident in that decision now. A few weeks ago I was still hesitant to tell people about why I left my job. I was embarrassed and a little ashamed. But I am going to own this decision now, and I am not going to be ashamed of how I want to live my life.
Once I understood where I was at and why, I knew that being home with my children would be best for me and my little family. I needed to accept that it was okay to embrace my new values and goals since entering motherhood. I needed to let go of my past goals and values that were no longer priorities for me, even if it meant not living up to the expectations of others and disappointing those who paved the way for me and other women to have careers while also being mothers. I needed to allow myself to breathe again.
Now, back to why I had a smidgen of fear that being home with my children all week long would not work out for me. You see, I was so overwhelmed with life at work and at home that whenever I heard the slightest whine from my son or another ear-piercing shriek from my daughter, I wanted to just throw my hands in the air and walk away without addressing my children’s behaviors and actions. Sometimes parents do need to walk away, cool off and remind themselves that their young children have a very limited concept of what it means to be selfless before stepping in and addressing the issue, but I was at a point where I could not see how I was in control of anything anymore. I had lost myself, I had barely spoken to my husband in weeks because he was busy wrapping things up for the spring semester, and it seemed like no matter how patient and calm I tried to be, my kids wouldn’t listen to me, like ever. When my kids wouldn’t even do what I had asked them to do, I was reminded once again that my voice and words were just spinning around and around in my own head. All I wanted after all of the effort I had been putting forth to do what was expected of me was to be heard by my husband, my family, my friends, my kids, or anyone. I was Dorothy, and everything was swirling around me, just out of my reach and control. I was stuck in a house that had been uprooted by a vicious tornado.
But the house eventually landed.
This is my fifth week of being home with my children and I am loving it. When I don’t set my alarm, my son crawls into my bed when he wakes up in the morning and he tells me that it’s time to wake up because it’s another beautiful day outside. And it is indeed. My daughter is absorbing so much information right now, and I actually get to witness how she is learning new things every day instead of being told about what she learned at daycare. I get to teach my children for more than two hours a day now. I get to play with my children for more than two hours a day. Sometimes I just take a few moments to really observe my children and see how they interact with others or what they choose to do when they are in their own little worlds and completely oblivious to everything and everyone else. I have been able to give them the attention they deserve to have from their mother. We stay busy with new activities, we read and sing more together, we go for walks to the park and farmer’s market, and we snuggle. I do all of this with them without the worry and anxiety I used to have, and this has changed my world. Yes, I really do love being home with my kids all day because we are not simply stuck at home together; we are exploring the world and what it means to live life together and in our own unique ways.
Of course, any stay-at-home parent will tell you that it is a tough job because it truly is a tough job. In addition to taking care of my kids, keeping them engaged and disciplining them, I am also planning and preparing three meals a day, I do the grocery shopping, I pay the bills, I take the weeds to the compost site after weeding the yard, I clean the house (sort of), I do the laundry, I clean up the dishes, I work on simple home projects during the kids’ naps, and I do a variety of other tasks so that when my husband gets home from work, we are able to enjoy some time as a family at the end of the day. My work is never done, and I have yet to feel “bored” being at home. When I do find time for myself, I work on my writing, I read, and yes, I do look for jobs. Some days are easier than others. But being a temporary stay-at-home mom gives me purpose. This is a job that is fulfilling for me. This is a job that is bringing my family closer together.
Yes, I really do love being home with my kids all day. I am finally owning my life again. Oh snap!