Leaving my career to stay at home

When a lot of people hear that I am a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), they usually respond with, “Oh, you’re so lucky you can be at home with your kids,” or “What a blessing that must be.” And they are right. We are blessed that I can stay home with my kids. But that blessing does not come without sacrifice. Not just the obvious monetary sacrifice, but there is so much more that we as moms and dads sacrifice to be home with our kids.

When your kids are little, one has to work hard to keep adult relationships. In many cases, the friends you once had before kids slowly fade away. A small core group may stay, but most do not. There are so many memes out there about it. I believe it has a lot more to do with the new parents than the old friends. As new parents, you’re overwhelmed: sleep schedules, feeding schedules, your lack of sleep, and ultimately your lack of time. My husband was blessed to work at a company that gave him ample time off for paternity leave. However, even with his time off, it was hard for us to get out with friends. We both worked after my first, so weekdays were typically out of the picture. Weekends were filled with soccer games and church.sub-buzz-24195-1535483888-7

This meant for me that my adult relationships became my coworker relationships. That at least provided me with adult conversation throughout the day. Then with having my second, we decided it was best for me to stay home. I was only working part time already and my full time income would not come close to my husband’s. It was the logical choice. Before we even knew the medical complications my son would have, I made the decision and told my boss. I cried, blubbered and stammered my way through my conversation with her. I was more visibly upset about leaving than she was, but she was still sad to see me go.

The end of the school year came and my time teaching came to an end as well. It was very sad for me, but it didn’t hit me so hard at this point. When the next school year started up and our teen was going in to the eighth grade at the same school, that is when it hit me: I love teaching. It is my passion! It was so hard to see her go off to school and not be going with her.

I immediately started up a tutoring page, and offered my services to tutor. Of course, no one reached out over the summer or early in the school year, but as school started to wind up, I was able to attain some clients. Some of these students were at the school where I taught. Tutoring these kids bubbled up feelings of nostalgia and wishing I could still be there. math20tutorI would remind myself that I’m doing this for our kids. I would remind myself that even before we truly knew my son’s medical needs, we knew this was the best choice for our family. We now have weekly visits with some doctor, therapist, etc., so there’s just no way I could work without taking a lot of time off. I would remind myself…

It was hard to give up my career. As with anything in life, change is not easy. This change was especially challenging, because I was heading into the unknown. I have switched careers a few times in my life. I started at 19 years old as a data entry clerk at a third party drug test reporting (MRO) company. I worked there for almost 5 years. Started substitute teaching at the high school I graduated from so I could finish college and get my teaching degree. Moved to Arizona (with a small detour), and taught for 2 years. It was miserable! Left teaching to go to private sector again where I worked as a project manager. Finally, my sister in law called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to teach at the school where she worked. I wasn’t 100% on board right away, but after talking to my husband, we jumped back in. I LOVED IT.Excited Teaching Post

This love didn’t change 5 years in to teaching. I was so happy to be back in the classroom. So as this new change approached, I met it with trepidation. It has not been an easy transition for me. I’m growing and learning every day and hopefully becoming a better person because of this new phase of life. The “bad” feelings still pop up from time to time, but I do my best to remind myself of the good things too. Most importantly, my kids. They’re really great kids. I see how they interact with other kids their age, and I’m truly proud of how loving and open they are to others.

Also, I know that although this is the season we’re in now, it’s not permanent. I will be able to go back to teaching when my kids are a bit older and in school themselves. I may even go back to the same school. That’s my hope at least. Thankfully, this day and age, teachers are in demand. STEM teachers are in even a higher demand than others. With my degree (Math education) cover that M really well.

I know that in this stage of life, I made the right decision for our family. Every family is different and has different needs. We, as a family, have sacrificed for me to stay home with our kids. We know there will be other sacrifices along the way. Choosing what I know is the best decision for my family has made this choice something to live for. It’s not easier, and by no means easy, but I see the good as a result every day with my kids.

The somber emotions that come from good choices

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed. ~Linda Wooten

Have you ever made a decision about a major life altering event that you had doubts about? Not necessarily that it was the wrong decision, but along the lines that you were not in the right place for this to be happening? This has happened a few times in my life. Some were major bloopers that I should have put more thought in to (thanks California). Or moving out of your parent’s home because of an argument with your mother. Some may not be so major, like choosing to not have my “low tire pressure” checked until I had a bulge that popped at work! Or traveling to work in a snow storm – white knuckle driving – only to find out they closed for the day (before cell phones were a commonplace item)!

Sometimes, you make what you think are great choices in life and still have those moments when you almost wish you hadn’t made that choice. Staying at home was a choice I made for the benefit of our family. It was a sacrificial choice. I had logically built up the case that this is where I needed to be. I knew from my faith that this is where I was meant to be. I would tell myself this over and over.

Unfortunately, it was not working. Staying at home allowed for my kids to stay with me. Staying at home allowed for my husband to work and not worry about who was going to take a kid to the appointment. Staying at home allowed for us to keep a house maintained (for the most part) and a home-made dinner at least 3-4 nights a week. There were many benefits. But still gnawing at the back of my skull was this little desire. This desire was to be doing what I love, my passion: Teaching.

This desire turned in to resentment. I couldn’t get past it. The logical side of me kept telling myself I was crazy to resent this. I chose this. I did. josh-sundquist-fighting-emotion-with-logic-is-like-bringing-quote-on-storemypic-a6fcbMy husband supported my decision, but ultimately, I needed to choose to work or stay at home. I chose to stay at home. The logical side of me would say that I need to be here, my family needs me to be home. The logical side reminded me that this was my purpose right now and it was temporary, I should enjoy this time with my kids. Soon they would be in school and I could go back to teaching, but for now, this was where I needed to be. But every time one of those logical thoughts came to mind, the resentment came right behind it.

I started asking my husband to take more time off work. I asked him to work from home if he could. I started putting my insecurity about being at home with little kids on him. I forced him to carry my burden. The worst part is that I didn’t even realize I was doing it. So when he’d say he couldn’t take time off or work from home, I would get upset with him. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want to help me. Of course he wanted to help me, but he also had to work. He has meetings, deadlines, etc. that he has to be at work for. I was making it harder on him. My insecurity was putting a wedge in our relationship.

After a while, and a couple of fights, I realized I was doing this to him. I was putting him in a lose-lose position. He takes time off for me, then he has a massive amount of work when he gets back. He doesn’t take off time, then I give him a hard time about not caring about my needs.

It goes back to my resentment. I resented that he could go to work and get to talk to adults, while I was stuck home with little mini-me’s discussing things like Paw Patrol, pooping on the potty, not eating lunch because it’s icky, and so on. I resented when he came home to discuss his day with me (his way to vent). I missed that part of my life.

Even though I had made the choice to stay at home, I realized that I never had accepted what that meant. I did it for the logical side of my brain that said I need to be home with my babies. I was happy to see them grow and mature. I was grateful that I could be the one to foster their early education. I never accepted the darker emotional side of that choice: the guilt, the loneliness, feeling like a constant failure, and the frustrations.

The Guilt: I had a lot of guilt leaving my school. I taught at a small private school, so I knew the students, even if I never had them in class. This meant that students who were looking forward to having me, and me them, would never get to have that experience. They would never get to see my crazy antics in class. They would never get to see my excitement over the most mundane things – I get quite giddy when talking about anything math related! I would never get to see their “light-bulb” moments. I would never see their struggle and surmounting that struggle. I would never get to see the pride on their face when they realized they understood something the previously struggled to understand. I had to deal with the fact that I was losing this part of my life, even if it was temporary. It took me a long time to accept this truth.

The Loneliness: I think this is the one I was logically ready for in my mind. I knew that I would not get that adult human interaction that I once had. I knew that I would have to work hard to maintain any kind of personal relationship with anyone. Because let’s face it, having 2 little kids with all sorts of schedules and appointments means life becomes about them. But then it really hit me about 6 months in. I was truly lonely. Lonely MomI love my husband, but I needed more interaction than just him. Thankfully, about the same time, I started going to a local bible study my mother-in-law signed me up for early in the summer. I still struggled to open up, but it has helped getting out of the house and having real conversations with other women. It’s also not something I can easily flake on because there is accountability: they have day care and the women genuinely care if I’m not there and didn’t give a reason.

The Failures: This one is hard for me. I’m a perfectionist. I like things being a certain way. I have in my mind how I want to raise my kids, then I get out of bed and it all goes to hell. I want to talk gently with my children, have structured play time where we explore our world, teach my daughter to read letters and numbers, and many other items. That usually ends within the first 30 minutes of the kids being up. Part of it is that I’m tired, still waking up, but it’s mostly that I pick what’s easy. It’s easier for me to have the kids watch a little TV while I make their breakfast than to keep the TV off and interact with them while trying to make it. I could pack them in the car at 8 am and take them to a park to play and explore, but instead I open the back door and let them play on our back porch. I could research different structured play activities for them (mainly my older one) and have her do these while my son takes his morning nap, but I’m already tired and need a break myself, so I give her a coloring book and let her have at it!

Because I am not living up to my expectations of what I should be as a mother, I see myself as a failure. I see posts from my friends on social media doing all these fun things with their kids and think, “I can’t even measure up to these moms.” Though I love social media, I have had to really work at not comparing myself to anyone on there.

I have come to accept that this is our life. I may not have the perfect structured day, but the kids are dressed, fed and generally happy. They enjoy doing things with me, but they also enjoy doing things on their own. I do my best to have things we do out of the house, but most days we just stay in and enjoy doing stuff together.

The Frustrations: Kids are frustrating. Raising a little human that says, “Mommy” over and over again gets very frustrating. They have minds of their own and like to exercise that little mind. They are very oblivious to anything around them. They are honestly selfish. I like saying “honestly selfish” because they are very vocal about their selfishness. We as adults have learned social cues and ways to hide our selfishness, but they aren’t there yet. It’s frustrating when I’m trying to make lunch and my son just screams and cries because I’m in the kitchen and he’s blocked from going in. It’s frustrating when my daughter takes the bin of toys I just cleaned up and dumps them out all over the floor to find the one toy she wanted.istock-108269746_0

When I get frustrated, I usually start yelling. I hate that about myself, but it’s so involuntary. I’m still learning how to not yell, but there are times my nerve just got punched. Then I get frustrated with myself for yelling at the kids. Sometimes a louder, more stern tone is required because they’re getting into something that could hurt them. But there are other times I yell just because one of them frustrated me. It’s an area that I work on daily. Some days are better than others.

I’ve come to a better awareness of these things about myself, which has helped many aspects of my life. My husband and I talk more. He’s aware that I need (not want) that interaction daily, so he sets aside time for us to just talk. I’ve made strides to get connected to friends and families so I can have a human connection outside of my little ones. I get outside, even if it’s just our backyard, daily. This helps tremendously. I forgive myself when I don’t meet my expectations. I also ask for forgiveness from my children when I’ve let my frustrations out on them – this one is big for me.

This is a process. It won’t happen overnight and I doubt I’ll ever be truly good at it. I will be always changing, learning and growing. Recognizing these emotions when they arise is key. Then by acknowledging why I feel this way and accepting my circumstances in the midst of these emotions allows me to deal with my thoughts in a calm way. I will continue loving my kids as I know best. I will let them play, get in to messes, watch TV, fight with each other, and all other sorts of kid things. I will let them grow knowing their mommy loves them so much and wants to be the best she can be for them.