“It must be nice to be a stay at home mom and have all that free time.”
“What do stay at home moms do all day?”
“How can these women have an identity other than something that revolves around their children?”
“I need my career. It is not enough to just be a mom.”
“Why don’t these women go out and get real jobs?”
“I’ll never be a stay at home mom.”
Raise your hand if you have thought or even spoke aloud some of these. I sure have. As someone who grew up with both parents working outside of the home, there was no question in my mind that if one day I became a mom, I would work outside the home too. It was instilled in me from my childhood that getting a high quality education and entering the workforce one day would be a huge part of my identity and my adult life. My mother taught me that no matter what I did, I needed to be able to support myself and any children I had. “You never know what life is going to throw at you. Never rely on another person for your well being.”
And yet, here I am, six months into my stay at home mom gig. Holy crap.
It all started last year when my youngest was diagnosed with epilepsy. Not only did my husband and I have to navigate the pandemic working as healthcare providers, but we had to endure a tumultuous year discovering what it means to be parents to a child with a chronic medical disease and all that comes with that. It was the hardest year of my life. I was working part-time as a family nurse practitioner, seeing patients 3-4 days a week. My husband is an emergency medicine physician, so his schedule is all over the place. While he is an extremely hands-on husband and father and member of this household, there are just times when he cannot help due to his work. So much of the management of the household and children falls on me.
I could feel the stress building every day. My brain was flipping back and forth between managing COVID-19 in our community through my work and managing my daughter’s illness at home. Doctor appointments, tests, bloodwork, special diets, medications, various therapies… Even on my off days I was struggling to find time to balance everything. I had to put myself on anti-anxiety medication after having a full blown panic attack in front of my 3 year old. My husband and I knew something had to change, so I cut back my work. But it still wasn’t enough.
During this whole ordeal, my youngest was in the daycare with her sister. First of all let me say that our daycare is phenomenal. My children stayed there through the whole pandemic, and were always safe and well looked after. But my epileptic daughter was having a hard time. She couldn’t get enough rest. Her speech didn’t develop, nor did her fine motor skills. She had balance problems and fell a lot. And she was having anywhere from 20 to 60 seizures a day. Every day, when I picked her up from daycare after I had worked, she would cry and fuss until bedtime. It broke my heart. I prayed about it, spoke to my mother and my husband, and came to the realization that we needed to pull her out of daycare and keep her at home, and that I needed to be the one to take care of her.
That was one of the hardest things I have done, saying goodbye to a job that I have been at for 7 years, and goodbye to a career in medicine that I have been in for over a decade. I have either been in school or worked since I was 15 years old. How was I supposed to manage this? But I knew that I would do anything for my daughter and my family. I was smart and dedicated, so I would make it work.
I am now six months in, and let me tell y’all, it has been a crazy rollercoaster of emotions. There have been days where I am missing my job and more so, my coworkers, so much that I almost call them and say, take me back! I miss having a job to go to, to get dressed up and out of the house for. I miss my patients and the years of relationships we formed. I miss talking to other adults and having important conversations. I miss the feeling of value and worth I got out of my career in medicine helping others.
But then there are days where I see my daughter finally say, Mama, and my heart explodes. I see her have a good day with less seizures and plenty of attention and how happy she is. I take her everywhere with me; we go grocery shopping, and go play at the park, and go for jogs around the neighborhood. Yes, it is hard always having her with me, but we have grown accustomed to one another. I have been able to take her to therapy appointments multiple times a week, and to her various doctor appointments, and try to manage a keto diet in the comfort of our home without worrying about how I am going to fit all this in around my work schedule. I have seen her blossom and grow getting the care she deserves and so desperately needed because I became a stay-at-home mom. It has made me so happy.
I have also been able to better support my family and my husband. He has not had an easy year and a half, being an ER doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic. He works SO hard, and I know if I was still working as well, our marriage and our family would be struggling more. I am happy to take over the housework and the cooking and the girls’ activities and beyond if it means lightening his load some. We are in a partnership in managing our home and raising our girls, and this is the best allocation of duties for now.
Will it always be like this? Will I stay a stay at home mom forever? I have no idea. I am ready to re-enter the workforce if I have to, but for now I choose this. We don’t know if our daughter will be able to go to regular school when the time comes, and she certainly isn’t ready to go to daycare now. So for the meantime, this is me and my life. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am SO grateful that I am able to be at home and take care of her and my family. Not every woman has that choice. I am SO grateful that God placed this little girl with us, knowing we have the resources to give her the best care possible. She has taught us all so many lessons and brought so much light into our home. It hasn’t been easy by any means, but we moms are strong. Working outside the home or inside the home or a combination of both, Moms Get. It. Done.
If you are like me and have become a stay at home mom, or you are considering it, know that I understand what you are going through and can empathize. Whether you have a choice to do this or not, I consider it one of the greatest gifts you can give your family. It is not for the faint of heart; it is HARD. It is a job. You become a chef, a nurse, a maid, an accountant, an Uber driver, a teacher and so much more all rolled into one. But it is so worth it.
Maybe you stick with it, or maybe you go back to work one day. Do what is best for you and your family, no matter what anyone else thinks or says. And if you happen to become a stay at home mom and need a friend to talk to, hit me up! I’ll be the one out in the garden talking to my plants while my 2-year-old throws rocks and chases butterflies.
“To the world you are a mother, but to your family you are the world.”