The “work question” has been one of the most frequently asked questions from friends and blog readers alike since I announced that I was pregnant. In the beginning, the answer was a clear-cut, confident I’m going back to work, of course! I liked my job, I liked making money, and I didn’t see how having a baby would change any of that. After 12 weeks of maternity leave, I planned on hopping back into my pencil skirts (ha) and getting back to work. (We had even paid to secure a spot at a daycare before I gave birth.)
Fast forward to actually having Jack. Once I got through the initial hell of having a newborn, my entire outlook on returning to work drastically changed; although it wasn’t easy to admit because never, ever, EVER in my wildest dreams would I have seen myself as a stay-at-home-mom (I prefer the title Lifestyle Manager, but whatevs.) My dream has always been to work, work, work and earn, earn, earn.
Cory and I had the conversation almost daily after Jack was born, but I could never fully commit to an answer. I’d flip flop between I don’t want our lifestyle to chaaaange (which is so dumb, because it changes when you have a baby whether you return to work or not) to I can’t imaaaaagine leaving him at daycare if I have the option to stay home with him.
When it came down to it, it was a huge pride struggle for me. I had this deep feeling that staying home would somehow make me “less than” because I wouldn’t be monetarily contributing to our family. I wondered if I’d be giving up on my dreams of making it in Corporate America. I thought that in some way, I’d be losing some sort of value as a person – that I was wasting potential or that I was throwing away my degrees that I worked so hard to earn.
I was also scared shitless. Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom is a far cry from a cushy position; it’s a hard job, a job I had never trained for, and I asked myself “am I even qualified for this job?”
I judged myself, and I was worried what my working-mom friends would think of me. That I’d gone soft or some stupid shit like that.
In short: It was all about me.
(I know how ridiculous this all sounds, but you know how much I value transparency with you guys.)
But things literally changed overnight. One morning I groggily walked over to Jack’s crib, still unsure if I’d ever make it at this “motherhood” thing, and leaned over the edge and said ‘Hi, Bubby!’
Then he did it.
He gave me my first big, beautiful, ear-to-ear, gummy smile. A smile that I knew was actually meant for me.
Cue the tears, the melting heart, the I-don’t-give-a-fuck-what-anyone-thinks, I’m staying home with this kid decision.
Do I still get a little self-conscious when I tell my working-mom friends that I’ve decided to stay home? You bet. Do I sometimes feel the need to pet my Master’s degree and remind myself that I’m not just someone who changes diapers and breastfeeds? Absolutely. Do I ever get concerned about giving up a guaranteed salary? Sure.
But do I ever look at my baby and think I could be doing something more important? Never.