Coming to Terms With Life As A Stay-At-Home Mom

life as a stay-at-home mom

After 15 years of working my way up corporate ladders, becoming a stay-at-home mom was definitely a bit of a culture shock. I found myself suddenly dreading the question: “What do you do for a living?” For the first 3 months of being a stay-at-home mom, I answered this question with a lie. Not because I was intentionally trying to mislead the interrogator, but simply because I hadn’t come to terms with my new role yet. In my mind, and my instant gut reaction – I always responded, “I do marketing for Hyatt Hotels.” I was proud of that position, I generally liked telling people what I did because it was an interesting role and I worked hard at it. I was successful.

After I finally realized that I was telling these lies, I switched my story to a more truthful tone, “I’m a stay-at-home mom.” The reactions this response prompted were unexpected, to say the least. Depending on who I was speaking with, I either received blank stares, a judgmental eye, or pure and simple jealousy. I could physically feel these acquaintances writing me off as someone who perhaps lacked education, work ethic, determination – maybe some even thought I opted for the easy road and now lived some “cush” life without a grueling 9-5. Others simply felt they probably had nothing in common with such a simple-minded person or simply couldn’t relate. Fellow mothers, who didn’t or couldn’t give up their jobs after having children either seemed to judge me for wasting my education and a spot in corporate America or looked at me envious of my “easy-breezy” lifestyle.

I’ve come to despise these reactions, hence me hating the question itself in the first place. I found myself desperately wanting others to know that I was educated, that I put myself through college and have worked hard for everything I’ve ever had, and that prior to becoming “mom”, I was climbing the corporate ladder with one of the largest hospitality companies in the world. I was not lazy, I was not on some “free ride”. For some reason, I needed people to know that, so I found myself working my past resume into the conversation somehow – proving my self-worth to these outsiders who had probably already made up their mind about me the second “stay-at-home” left my lips.



The only time I ever felt validated for my “stay-at-home mom” title, (besides my husband telling me how grateful he is for me – he’s a gem) – was when my husband’s grandfather looked me straight in the eye and said, “I think it’s so wonderful what you’re doing for your family – staying home and raising your daughter. You should be really proud.” That simply stated compliment was so shockingly different from the other responses I had grown accustomed to hearing, that I fought back tears and could barely spit out a muffled, “Thank you.” 

THANK YOU to this sweet old man for understanding what it meant to stay home with children — he should know, his wife had stayed home with five! And he was right — why wasn’t I proud of my new title? Why was I letting these negative reactions and judgmental tones determine my own self-worth?

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room — I am lucky. My husband is the breadwinner and he works extremely hard to financially support our family. When my daughter was born, I made the decision to leave the corporate world and stay home with her. A decision that I know many of my friends and acquaintances never had the opportunity to make because of financial or family situations. Others did have my same decision, and they chose careers over staying home, and to that I say; to each their own, no judgement here. I could have easily made the decision to go back to work and continue building my career – it was a close call. But in the end, I decided that I loved my job, but I loved the idea of staying home and raising my daughter more. The decision was mine, and my husband’s, and we made it together.

But let’s get one thing straight — staying home and raising a child/children is as far from “cush” as it gets. You punch in for this job and you never punch out — unless you go back to work of course. I’ll tell you what looks really “cush” to me right about now — sitting in my old private (and quiet) office, answering emails and phone calls while having uninterrupted conversations with adults, attending high-level meetings in my perfectly pressed suits and manicured nails, and receiving praises and raises for a job well done — that sort of lifestyle feeds the ego.

Often being a stay-at-home mom is a thankless existence that requires you to pat yourself on the back every now and then — a role that often gets lost under stereotypical labels associated with yoga pants and loads of laundry. (Dont’ get me wrong – I do wear yoga pants and I do A LOT of laundry – but the point is, there’s more to my job than that). Unlike my past corporate life where I kept my eye on big goals and projects, I now live and breathe by the small accomplishments my toddler and I achieve throughout our day; like teaching her how to pick and smell flowers, brush her own teeth, say please and thank you, or eat all of her veggies (well, the veggies are a work in progress).

When you’re consumed by these small, sometimes mundane, accomplishments every day, it’s hard to see the big picture that paints the importance of a stay-at-home mom. It’s hard to truly grasp that these small actions that fill our days are molding my daughter into the woman that she will become someday.

It took some time for me to appreciate my new role and what it really entailed. When I finally stood back and realized that I’m the biggest influence in my daughter’s life right now and my constant presence and guidance is impacting her overall existence, my role as a stay-at-home mom seemed larger than life. I suddenly could care less about outside judgement or not feeling “appreciated” enough in society. Me staying home with my daughter was working for our family, and I couldn’t ask for a better reward.



My Unexpected Journey to Becoming a Stay at Home Mom

Leaving the corporate world to become a Stay at Home Mom was an easy decision that surprised me more than anyone. If you would have asked me  about my career plans 7 months ago, right before Blake was born, I would tell you that I planned to keep working and building my career. You see, I’ve always had a job ever since I was 14 years old. The day I turned 14 and was of legal age to work in California, I marched myself into Baskin Robbins/Togos and got myself a minimum-wage job scooping ice cream and making sandwiches – I was ecstatic for a paycheck all my own!

I continued working through my high school graduation and then moved to San Diego to attend San Diego State University where I found 2 more jobs that allowed me to put myself through college. At times it was difficult to juggle class, selling advertising space for SDSU’s school newspaper during the day and waitressing at night and on the weekends – but I managed to graduate in four years. The week before I threw my black hat up into the air and celebrated my college graduation, I had already received a job offer from a company in Orange County as an entry-level sales and marketing associate.  It was a great first corporate job and despite me living in San Diego, I was thrilled at the opportunity. I commuted to Orange County bright and early every morning because I felt lucky to have landed a job straight out of college.



As the years passed I continued to bounce around from job to job, pushing myself higher and higher, gaining more real-world experience and building more equity in myself. When I landed my dream job with Hyatt Hotels, I thought, I’ve made it – this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. Flash forward four years later and I was running the marketing department at one of the largest properties on the west coast. Nice suits, a new slick car I bought for myself and an office with a view – I felt important, driven and had big plans to keep scaling that corporate ladder.

The point of all this is that working is in my blood, my DNA, and I’ve worked hard for everything I have.  I don’t know how to not work. So when Blake graced us with her presence last November, I honestly didn’t think my mindset would change all that much. I had an amazing job waiting for me and big plans for my future. And taking into account all of my hard work, since I was 14 years old, how could I turn my back on my self-bought education and all of the years I spent investing in myself?

It’s funny how becoming a parent makes you blind and awakened at the same time. Once Blake was born, something changed in me. I wanted to be there when she laughed for the first time, when she said her first word and when she took her first step – I wanted to raiser her. I could care less about my journey to success – I suddenly was blind to all of those years I spent building my career – they didn’t matter as much to me anymore.   This little family that Mike and I had suddenly created – this was where I was supposed to be. It was so crystal clear and I didn’t doubt it for a second. I was also extremely lucky that I even had the option of becoming a stay-at-home-mom. I know many mothers don’t have that option because of financial reasons or don’t want to put their career on hold, and I totally get it and sympathize with them – but everyone has their own journey.

The Journey is the Destination

I love the quote, “The journey is the destination”. Even though I had bigger plans for my career, I didn’t miss out on the destination – my journey was the destination – and a destination that led me to a beautiful life, loving husband and adorable baby girl.  Now, I still do some marketing consulting on the side and of course I run this blog as a creative outlet, (remember, I don’t know how to not work?) but my full time job is raising Little Miss Blake. And forget fancy suits and an office with a view – this is the most important job I’ll ever have.



stay at home mom

 

Monday Mashup

Happy Monday! Hope everyone’s week is off to a fantastic start! Check out the 5 things I’m loving in this week’s Monday Mashup: 1. 10 Habits of a Successful Mom: This post on Today’s the Best Day blog, really resonated with me because I, too traded in my nice work suits and high heels for flip flops and yoga pants when I left the corporate world and a job I loved to become a full time mom. I love how she refers to the new “mommy job” as a promotion – I totally agree. 2. Moms Night Out at Culture Brewing Co.: Some fellow moms and I experienced Culture Brewing Co. for a fantastic Mom’s Night Out. Check out the article on San Diego Mom’s Night Out for all the details – this San Diego brewery is legit.` Culture Brewing Co. 3. Little Leopard Book: This blog has the best recipes ever! I mean, just follow her Instagram account and you’ll be drooling in no time! Whitney is so cute and she inspires me to start cooking more! 4. StitchFix: I did it – I made the leap and started using StitchFix. It’s such a great idea for us busy moms who don’t really have time to peruse the mall anymore. Plus, I always wanted a personal stylist! And so far, so good – I found one shirt that I loved and kept from my last order and am looking forward to next month’s shipment. The box full of clothse arriving at your doorstep every month is kinda like Christmas for fashionistas – love it! Check it out here. 5. Help San Diego Fire Victims & Firefighters: Last week TEN fires broke out across San Diego county as  intense Santa Ana winds, low humidity and triple digit temperatures only escalated the catstrophe. As I write this, four fires are still burning. At least 25,000 acres have burned in total forcing 125,000 evacuations and dozens of homes destroyed.  To donate goods or money to help evacuees or fire crews involved in this firestorm, here are some suggestions:

San Diego Fires (Photo courtesy of LA Times Photography Twitter: Dramatic image of 72-year-old fighting with garden hose by @RickLoomis via @latpixhttp://lat.ms/RURL8T )

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