When you make the decision to stay at home with your children, it’s a BIG deal.
There are lots of factors: finances, your ability to spend twelve hours at a time with people under three feet tall and the national coffee supply. You wrestle with your ability to be the sole caregiver, your need for grown up conversation and the fact that you will miss wearing suits, pantyhose and heels to work. Just kidding. Throwing the heels out the window is actually one of the easier dilemmas to solve.
Often times, when the decision to stay home presents itself, you are at the top of your game professionally. You are making bank, you can comment on pop culture at cocktail parties because you aren’t asleep by 8 pm and people use your real name when speaking to you.
It’s a tough decision to hang up the Louboutins and trade them for yoga pants. Or the wingtips for a hoodie and a man satchel.
Once the decision is made, though, you throw yourself into the role of SAHM (Stay At Home Mom, because acronyms are fun….and yes, SAHD are included. We like them, too).
You launder. You cook. You reason. You time out.
You fret over socialization, milestones and therapy bills.
You wonder if nap time will ever NOT consist of the sounds of little feet on the stairs and the words “GET BACK UP THERE” coming off your tongue in a shrill, Wicked Witch tone.
Your world becomes theirs. You eat their food (fist pump to mac and cheese, yo!), you watch their shows (except Caillou. NEVER Caillou.) and you sleep when they do (which they DON’T).
And, with subsequent children, you become so deeply enmeshed in the world of SAH parenting that you can’t really remember who you were when this whole crazy situation started.
You accept the memory loss, though, because you are doing your JOB. The job that you and your partner agreed is best for your family right now. It’s okay that you sold those Louboutins on eBay for dance classes because you are needed on the home front. It’s okay that your suits don’t fit you anymore because you are going to the park for a playdate this morning. You have a role and you are kicking ass at your job, sans pay raises and lunch breaks. And promotions. And bonuses. And secretaries.
What they don’t tell you, though, is, for all the worrying, wrestling and fretting put into the SAH decision, the job isn’t permanent. It’s only a short term assignment. A job from a temp agency.
The job has an endpoint. Finite. No mas. You done, baby.
When that last little cherub hits the doors of the school bus, you come home to an empty kitchen, the sounds of Matt Lauer on the television and a stack of dishes that you now have seven hours to tackle. All the things that take approximately three days to complete with toddlers around now only take an hour an a half.
The light at the end of the tunnel is so damned bright you realize you aren’t even in the tunnel and now you need sunglasses. We thank you for your years of service and please complete the exit interview on your way out the door to the unemployment line.
Your life is your own again. Sort of.
And you are faced with a decision.
Do I go back to work?
You worry that your degree is obsolete, that your skill set has suffered because Sofia The First turned your brain to mush. You can’t remember how to write a resume, much less have much to put on it beyond “Manager of The Fecal Roster” (which, btw, is a REAL thing). The contacts in your phone are now PTA moms, preschool moms and women you’ve met at the playground (eyebrow raise, SAHDs….). And, a small part of you kicks yourself a little for not staying at least a tiny bit connected to your profession.
You worry that your kids will need you during the day. You worry about bus drop offs, sick days and classroom parties. You wonder if you’ll be able to manage conference calls, laundry and business trips. You can’t remember the last time you stood in a store to buy clothing that didn’t have spandex embedded in the waist.
You wonder if you can be YOU again. The You with a real name. The You with a purpose beyond your home. The You that isn’t defined by your minivan people moving skills, PTA committee or the team you coached to victory.
And it’s a BIG deal.