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July 26, 2010

Home is Where My Heart Is: My Choice to Stay at Home

After I graduated from college, I was very fortunate to work in an industry – consumer packaged goods marketing – that I loved. I was so passionate about my job and my career, and I truly enjoyed all the challenges and rigors of it. I worked long, hard hours most weeks, and I travelled frequently. I devoted everything I had to my work, but I always knew that one day I would put it aside when I had children.

Given that I was so career-driven, I know I shocked most of my colleagues and friends when I announced I wasn’t returning to work after the girls were born. I knew it was what I wanted to do…what I had always wanted to do…but I still had some fears about such a radical change. I felt like I had been defined by my career for so long, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t otherwise know who “me” was.

Eighteen months into staying at home with the girls, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else right now. There’s no doubt it’s a very difficult job with so many more challenges and rigors than I could have ever anticipated. And the funny thing to me is that I don’t feel like I’ve missed a beat since I left work.

Although it’s on a very different level, I am still driven by the challenges I face at home. Instead of developing a strategic marketing plan for a new product launch, I’m strategically trying to figure out how to adjust to a new nap schedule, or to offer my girls a varied diet and try to keep them from becoming picky eaters! :)

I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past 18 months, namely that there’s a lot more to me than just my resume, and that much of my “professional skill set” is part of who I am, but that it transcends any job. I’ve also been able to focus on some things that I haven’t had time for in a long time, things that I truly enjoy, just for the sake of enjoyment…like cooking and baking and creative writing and crafting. I look forward to sharing these rediscovered joys with the girls.

In some ways, no two days are ever the same…there’s always something going on!...but in other ways the days are very much alike, and that’s probably been one of the more difficult adjustments for me. Monday is pretty similar to Thursday, which looks a lot like Saturday at our house. I’ve heard one of my bloggy friends say that she is a better mom to her girls for working outside the home, and I understand what she means. It can be very difficult to maintain focus and drive for something you do, 24/7/365.

Why was it so important for me to stay at home with my girls?

I know them better than anyone else. I know their needs and wants, their quirks, their grunts and groans and squeals. I want to be the one to shape them during these critical formative years, and I don’t take this job lightly. It’s a huge responsibility, and I’m up for the challenge.

And because (to steal a quote from an unknown author) the days are long, but the years are short. I have the rest of my life to work, but my baby girls will only be “babies” for such a short while. I just want to soak in every moment.

People ask me all the time if I miss work. Sure I do! I miss wearing nice clothes and high heels…I miss doing numeric analysis…I miss travelling and giving presentations…I miss the satisfaction of a big sale made or a problem solved.

But when I get up in the mornings and put on my yoga pants, cook a hot breakfast for my girlies, and then load them in their stroller for a beautiful morning walk…when we stop along the way to admire a dog or talk to a neighbor…when I see them holding hands or doing baby signs through the stroller canopy…well, that’s just one of the many times I’m reminded that this is really my dream job, and I intend to make the most of it!


Deanna said...

Love your post! I'm working on mine today too. : )

Jill said...

I hear ya!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post.

I love how you said figuring out the naps is like doing a marketing strategy! And how! I'm posting about naps tomorrow :)

I thought when I was going through infertility that I'd change once the baby/ ies were here and D said "you'll always be the same" and he was right.

In fact, Deanna told me the best part of working is coming home :) DOn't even know if she remembers this?

Anyway, that's true for me but I so so so wish I could be happy with staying at home.

Andrea said...

Beautiful post, so heart felt. I am willing to bet you shed a few tears writing this. I know I did reading it.

Quadmama said...

It's a shame that there's such a stay-at-home vs. working mom controversy. I always imagined I would be a working mom... and I truly think if I had a singleton I would have continued my career as a news anchor, but with quadruplets someone had to stay home. I really enjoy it and wouldn't trade it for the world. Do I miss my old job? Sure, but I don't miss working holidays, late nights, weekends, etc. I work part-time in retail for the discount on clothes. And then I come home to my unpaid, full-time job : )

Christina said...

Great post Momma!!

MultipleMum said...

Love this post. I am a bit jealous that I can't be a full-time SAHM. Back to work for me, but only a couple of days a week. I miss the babies like crazy when I am not with them, but it is also nice to have a couple of 'quiet' days at the office. Keep up the great work!

Kim said...

Great post! Our society definitely pushes us to define each other by what we do, rather than who we are (and there's often a big difference). I think it's important that moms don't define themselves "just" as mothers, either.

reanbean said...

Unlike you, I never expected to quit my job when I had kids. But having two at once, it didn't make sense for me to continue working, just so I could hand over my entire paycheck to someone else for taking care of my kids. Still, I now have a feeling that I would have chosen to stay at home even if we'd had a singleton. I love my SAHM job and, so far, have never really felt a strong desire to go back to my classroom teaching job. I think I could be happy being a SAHM even once the kids start school, but the reality is that we'll be much better off with two incomes.

Great post! Very nicely done!