I have what I only half-jokingly call “baby fever.” Though not yet a mother, I read mommy blogs, melt over babies in strollers at the park, and I scrutinize young mothers, fascinated, trying to see something of myself in them. When I taught preschool I became aware of how easy it is to fall in love with other peoples’ children; I can’t even imagine the love a person feels when they are holding their own baby.
Long ago, way before I’d met Zack or was anywhere remotely close to old enough for marriage, I decided I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom before my kids go to school. My mother worked three jobs when I was little. When she slept my brother, sister and I would pile onto her bed and sleep, too, just to touch some part of this woman we barely saw and desperately missed. I know she did the best she could. Honestly, I don’t really remember that time except the flashes of baby-sitters here and there. But I know my mom regrets not being able to be home with us and I know that you don’t get a do-over when it comes to raising your kids. I want to have as few regrets as possible, so being a SAHM is important to me.
Now, that is not to say that I don’t have some reservations about being a SAHM.
First, I know EXACTLY how hard it is to go without much adult interaction in your daily life. After working with 20 preschoolers I craved a job that allowed me to wear dress clothes without fear of ruining them with finger paint and snot. I wanted to have a conversation about something other than who needed to go potty and not hitting your friends. I wanted to read the news in the morning, not Dr. Seuss. But I think part of that is ME. I get bored easily. I now have a job that requires dressing up and adult conversation and I’m not responsible for the state of anyone’s bladder but my own. And I miss singing silly songs and teaching my kids new words and the look on their faces when they GET what I’ve spent a month trying to teach them. There are benefits to working with kids. There are benefits to working in the adult-only world. If I could I would take a job that would allow me six months working with kids followed by six months of working with adults, but even if I could think up such a job I would bet money that I’m not qualified for it (the story of my life).
Second, like, what the fuck am I going to do when my however many kids go to school and I’m all unqualified to work at 35 or whatever? I don’t particularly relish the idea of making $10 an hour again, you know? Or doing something I hate just because no one else will hire me and I’ve got to start somewhere. Again. I’d be starting from scratch for the second time in the working world. I am so over that.
Last, and most important (to me, anyway), is something I really hadn’t thought about until Amalah’s Smackdown post the other day. What if I quit my job and decide six months down the road that OMG soooooooo not cut out to hang out with a baby in my pajamas all day. Because, y’all, I can see myself spiraling into depression without even being aware that it’s happening. And the pregnancy/post-partum hormone fiesta that goes on TERR-I-FIES ME. I’d never seriously considered the possibility of not liking SAH-motherhood. Because babies! And cuteness! And pajamas all day! And naps! And….I am totally, 100% kidding myself, right?
These worries don’t really change anything except my own personal awareness. I am still determined to give being a SAHM a try. I am totally lucky Zack and I agree that my staying home must be something that I choose, and continue to choose for however long I do it, and that it’s okay if I decide to go back to work (if only to preserve my sanity and personal hygiene). I will not feel guilty if I need to work part-time, or even full-time, because I truly believe that being a good parent isn’t about whether you work or stay home. It’s about giving your child the happiest, healthiest parent that you can be. I used to think that I could only be an awesome mom if I was home with my kids, but now I realize that so much more goes into it. Balance, a strong sense of self-worth, and knowing yourself enough to realize when you need time away. Having a partner who supports you when you say I NEED A BREAK is vital, whether that means finding two hours for me to go shopping alone or hopping on Craigslist to help me look for a j-o-b.
I never want to take my options for granted. By the time we have kids we’ll be in a financial position for me to choose whether to stay home or not, a luxury too many families can’t afford. I also have a partner who fully supports whatever decision I make about staying home or not. I just want to make sure that I am making the best decision I can for myself and my family. I am beginning to realize that that means I can’t plan in absolutes. I am going to give SAH motherhood a go, and if it doesn’t work out then I’ll find awesome care for the fruit of my loins and get my ass back to doing something that makes me happy. I am lucky to have so many doors open before me and for that I am grateful.
And speaking of people who share my DNA, you should all take a stroll on over to Not a Classy Peanut and welcome my sister to the blogging world!