I was recently asked to write a few notes about why I chose to be at stay-at-home mom. However, when I sat down to write, I had some trouble for a few reasons. Mostly because, while we all appreciate each other's perspectives, it can be dangerous to lean too heavily on what any other person says. I really don't want to be a spokeswoman for stay-at-home moms, working moms or any other mom. I just want to be a spokeswoman for me.
And for me personally, that has been a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, a working part-time from home mom and a working part-time away from home mom. While I'm happy (on most days) and grateful for my situation, this is not the choice I intended to make. As I said in a piece I wrote about Leaning In, I think it's true that many of us can have co-existing dreams and what's important is to not waste time comparing yourself to others, rather to busy yourself following one of your dreams.
Prior to having children, I didn't expect to land here. A series of unexpected medical circumstances and resulting decisions has brought me to this place at this specific moment and this specific stage. Professionally, I've arrived at a place that allows me to be be full-time stay-at-home with our three living children and to use the skill set I'm honing as a mother to write about being one.
This perspective allows me to focus not on the outcome of a woman's decision to stay at home or work, but rather to focus on the universal difficulty surrounding this decision. And whether it's a decision that we get to make or that is made for us, we as women should celebrate each other for surviving the deliberation and difficulty, both logistically and emotionally. For me personally, it's a choice that has provided sacrifices and gifts on both sides of the decision, and it's a difficulty that has been simultaneously haunting and rewarding.
I've lost a bit of who I was... that drive, that energy, that pace. But I've gained a bit of who I am.... this cheerfulness, this softness, this pace. I think that perhaps I'm a bit more lover and a bit less fighter, which is both good and bad. I miss the working me, but I am proud of this me.
There are certainly times when I fantasize about what life would be like with a hearty second income. And there are times when I'm relieved to receive a phone call from the school nurse's office and know that I can be there in minutes. I hear myself tell my daughters and son a little too emphatically about my days when I worked in advertising and I worry, is my example enough?
But then I remind myself that my example isn't based on where I am or what I'm doing -- my example is based on who I am and who I want to encourage my children to be. I want my children to be happy, strong, smart and to use these things to contribute. But better worded, I want my beautiful little maniacs to be grateful, courageous, wise and to use these things to give.
I'd love to roll my shoulders back and proudly claim the choice to be a stay-at-home mom, or to be a working mom. But it wasn't the choice I expected to make, rather it's a choice that made me. So, all I can do is roll my shoulders back, give myself a pat on the back for surviving the deliberation and proudly proclaim that this seems right for me... at this moment.