Laura, one of my oldest friends from college, left her job as a high-powered corporate attorney when her son was born nearly seven years ago. She launched a new career, as a full-time stay-at-home mom, and now celebrates two radiant children–a few years after her son was born, she welcomed a daughter. The dramatic switch from full-time lawyer to full-time mom posed identity challenges for Laura, which she describes below, but she has thrived in the face of difficult choices.
Q: Do you work full-time or part-time outside the home, or are you at home full-time?
A: Full-time at home.
Q: What has contributed to your decision to either stay at home or work?
A: My work schedule was hectic–to say the least–as a corporate lawyer. I cried every time I visited the daycare center where my son would have gone, and I couldn’t fathom another person being responsible for my child’s upbringing. It was really a personal decision about how I wanted my children to be raised. I often feel like I gave up so much, but I have also gained so much. I do not regret my decision at all.
Q: What do you think is easier emotionally–working outside the home, or being at home with your child(ren)?
A: I don’t really think one is [easier] than the other. Everyone is different, and that is what makes the world so interesting. Staying at home isn’t for everyone, but it works for me.
Q: If you are at home with your child(ren) full-time–or if you were for any length of time–what emotional challenges do/did you face?
A: Losing my identity was the most difficult part, but I’ve come to realize now that the identity I thought was so important, really wasn’t that important after all. It was a narrow definition of me. Since becoming a mom, I’ve learned so much more about myself, and I feel my description of myself is so much more expansive.
Q: Name two or three of the biggest emotional hurdles you’ve faced since becoming a mom. Have they been related to your identity? Work? Relationship with your husband?
A: At first the biggest issue was with my identity. I had always been proud of my education and my job, and thought it was “who I was.” When I opened a bank account for my son when he was a baby and I was a newly-at-home-mom, they asked for my title. I remember thinking, “Well, I’m a lawyer, but not working right now.” The person immediately said, “OK, then you’re a homemaker.” I nearly fell out of my seat, because I did NOT consider myself a homemaker. Now, six years later, I am proud to be a stay-at-home mom/homemaker. Our home is a loving place that is clean, tidy and safe for the kids. It is my hard work that creates this happy home, and I’m proud to do it to make my kids’ lives as wonderful as they can be. I only have one chance to do it right, and I’m trying my best.
The second hurdle is that my husband and I used to split the housework 50-50 when we were both working. I find a lot of the chores are now on my shoulders, and I wish I could say folding and putting away laundry week after week after week is awesome. But it just isn’t. Emotionally, I find these chores to be completely [void of fulfillment], and I often feel that I still have so much to offer the world. I just haven’t figured out yet what I want to be when I grow up!