When I made the decision to become a stay-at-home mother it was absolutely impulsive and not as glorious as I expected.
From a social perspective I couldn’t fathom how an early care and learning entity did not have a maternity leave benefit policy. On January 18, 2019 I submitted my leave request and departed for short-term disability leave. As a new employee I did not qualify for FLMA, so I was left to classify birthing my beautiful son as a disability? Outdated family leave policies are merely the surface of the issue. Women are constantly being forced to choose between honoring their postpartum recovery and returning to work for the sake of breaking the glass ceiling? Families are being forced to divide and conquer when it comes to PTO and placing significant burdens on mothers and fathers across the board.
When you look at the matter from this perspective, it makes sense that I was easily driven to quit my job. It was the most challenging decision I had ever made in my career. I have held a job since the age of 14 and broke barriers to become an Executive Director at the age of 23. I knew nothing about taking it easy or being unemployed, so the initial shock of sending my letter of resignation to my former supervisor was scary! I remember waking up early that day to fully sage my home and rebalance my chakras, followed by a long period of silence and meditation. After calling my husband and letting him know I was ready, I took the leap of faith and left my position at the State of Georgia. As nerve wrecking as this moment was, I felt powerful because I made a decision for myself without regard for anything else but my family.
If you want to be a stay-at-home mother, get in the habit of doing shit for yourself without permission! You deserve it a million times over. For the first few months I struggled with the lack of structure I once had in my day, while catering to the ever-changing needs of a newborn. There was no one telling me when to take lunch, or that well deserved 15 minutes of freedom in the bathroom. And vacation? Get ready to start lining up the baby sitter and pet care months in advance. It really does take a village. It wasn’t until I took on this role that I realized how much I thrived from performance growth measures in corporate America. I was always thinking about my next career move and leveraging my assets. Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t the pizza party in the office for meeting project goals, or being recognized as employee of the month. No one is applauding you for those daily servings of chicken nuggets kids seem to love. There is no housekeeping to call when the trash is full, or when your kitchen needs cleaning. You have suddenly taken on a million titles with no salary compensation. Yet, there are lessons and hurdles to overcome that feel the equivalent of giving it your all to obtain the next promotion. This time it was different because I was in control, and I did not have to appease to upper white management just to be seen.
Being a stay-at-home mother helped me recognize my silent battle with depression and anxiety. I identified my generational traumas and decided they were no longer for me. I found space for the important things I had neglected when I was a career chaser. Sure, the money, status, & titles were nice (and well deserved), but that too came with its share of problems. I never really had a balance and I was the victim of career burnout on more than one occasion. Back in 2015 I remember leaving my house at 6:30 AM and not returning home until nearly 6 PM. Driving Monday through Friday from Towson to Hanover and sometimes Montgomery County. Only to get home and open my laptop for several hours into the evening, neglecting the quality time I should have been spending with my husband during our engagement. I was so accustomed to the system that I forgot who I even was, and I surely lacked the courage to leave a “good job.” There was a stillness that I was afforded by having the advantage to be a stay-at-home mother. In the midst of such a glorious moment, I also learned that stillness can be painfully loud. Maybe it wasn’t everything I had dreamed of, but it surely taught me more about self-growth than I ever had known in all my 30 years of living. In fact, a Lyft driver once told me in casual discussion, “You decided to stay home so you could figure out who you are. That takes courage.” So, what does happen when you become a stay-at-home mother?
Well, you save a shit ton of money on child care and overpriced coffee sold in sustainable cups. I have a new found appreciation for brewing my own coffee and putting on shoes each day. You gain a new understanding of the world around you and perhaps you become more intentional about self-care and protecting your mental health. I can proudly announce I am a mom and that be enough. I don’t have to entertain society with a plethora of hobbies to make my life seem more appealing. You become your own boss – literally. I took pride in my new found gig once I established a schedule for my son. My days could begin with sunrise yoga, or maybe just sleeping in and taking a load off when I need it the most. Sometimes my days are spontaneously filled with family time, or a random date on a weeknight. It makes all the difference and you have the freedom to switch it up if needed. Being a stay-at-home mother allows you to create a peaceful environment and loving place that your husband returns to after a difficult day at work. I get to show up each and every day for my son because I hope he always values that I at least showed up. Sometimes being there is all that ever mattered. There is no perfect blueprint, and it is messy as hell, but there is beauty in the trial and error of this amazing title.
That’s exactly why this message is being brought to you on the weekend with a glass of wine in hand and I have no shame about it