I don’t think I ever really imagined that I would go from talking on the radio all day to talking to a toddler all day. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but I never actually planned to be a stay-at-home mom. I just always assumed I’d be a working mom simply because my own mom was and that’s all I knew.
I truly never gave it much thought until we decided to have a baby. Even throughout my pregnancy, I still fully planned on going back to work after my maternity leave. Then, Sebastien was born and suddenly, I couldn’t imagine leaving him. ‘Give it a year (the length of my maternity leave),’ I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll be dying to go back to work.’ Yeah, that didn’t exactly happen either, but there were a few other contributing factors as well (which I’ll go into more detail about below.)
First, I don’t think anyone needs to justify to others whether they are a working parent or a stay-at-home parent. Obviously there are benefits and sacrifices to both. Sometimes I feel the need to almost justify it to myself though, because often I have to tell myself it’s okay to not be working outside the home.
Let me be clear, my husband has never in any way made me feel anything but supported in this decision to stay-at-home full time with our son, and I’ve never felt judged by anyone else in my life either. However, not contributing to my family financially is something that I am still trying to get used to. I guess I mainly struggle with it because while I’m so grateful to be able to stay at home with my son…
To me, it will never not feel weird to not be working!
I think it’s because so much of our identity can be connected to our career. Mine was for the longest time so it’s that shift from working non-stop for several years to suddenly not earning a salary, even though it was by choice, that is just taking a lot of time for me to adjust to. (To be exact, 19 months of adjustment so far.)
Connecting ‘who we are’ to ‘what we do’ is to be expected though because our lives literally revolve around it. So many of us have dreams of our careers giving us not only our livelihood, but a purpose too.
It’s ingrained in us from such a young age: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“What do you do?” is one of the first questions that’s usually asked when you meet someone new.
Whenever you fill out paperwork, there it is again: “What is your occupation?”
Then if you have a baby, everyone asks, “Are you breastfeeding?” (Just kidding, but not really because they do ask that.) Everyone asks, “When are you going back to work?” Work work work work work work. (If you’re not already, take a sip every time I type ‘work’.)
I do realize I contribute in so many other ways that are just as important as making money. My husband and I agree that without me, he couldn’t do what he does, and without him, I couldn’t do what I do. It’s our system, it’s what we feel is best for us, and it’s not for everyone because not every situation is the same. What works for others doesn’t necessarily work for us, and what works for us doesn’t necessarily work for others.
As I always say, “You do you.”
The fact is, not everyone can afford childcare. Some people don’t have help from family. Some parents would rather sacrifice a dual-income in order to get precious time with their child they will never get back. Then there are people who would go crazy staying at home with their kids and want to work in order to be a happier parent. Others have no choice but to work, even though they would give anything to stay home with their kids.
Nic and I are in a few of the above categories: no family nearby, not wanting to miss so much of Sebastien’s early years, as well as it just not making much sense financially. (Childcare is hella expensive in Metro Vancouver.) Mix in the fact that Nic works out of town quite often so if I were working too (factoring in my joke of a commute being that traffic is also a nightmare in Metro Vancouver), there would have been many days where Sebastien wouldn’t have seen either of his parents, and that just didn’t feel right.
I never envisioned that it would feel more natural for me to stay at home, but it did. Well, except for that one thing I could not shake.
There was an expectation that came from somewhere within me (meaning I put it on myself) to give both my son and my career 100%, simultaneously. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as moms to do it all or have it all. Some moms do seemingly do it all, and to that I say, “You go, mama!” Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of parents can work and still have meaningful, quality time with their kids. I just knew personally, taking into account the demands of my job with no flex arrangement possible, it had to be one or the other for me. Accepting that was the hard part. I almost felt like a failure?
One scenario we never considered was having Nic stay at home with Sebastien instead of me because straight up, he’s the primary earner and hello, we have a mortgage. Not to mention, my industry is unstable at times (quite often there are mass layoffs across Canada) so there’s no way I would feel comfortable with my family depending on me alone. With that said, relying on one income can be daunting no matter what, and the extra pressure it puts on Nic hasn’t always been easy either. We sacrifice what we have to though, and that’s key.
Nonetheless, just because it was the “practical” thing to do, it doesn’t mean putting my radio career on hold was something I came to terms with easily. I lost a lot of sleep over it and felt so conflicted. I worked hard for my career and I (mostly) enjoyed being on the radio. On the other hand, I didn’t want to leave my baby either and essentially work just to be able to afford to have someone else take care of him all day.
Deep down, I do worry with every month that passes by as my son gets older, while the industry changes and moves forward without me, that I won’t ever have my career to go back to. It’s because I know that kids eventually grow up, situations change, and that one day I’ll want to be working again. Except hey, not all potential employers are cool with a major gap in a resume from a parent trying to re-enter the work place after a certain number of years and there will always be more qualified candidates. These are things I think about.
When I find that I am stressing about it, I try to remind myself that there’s no point in feeling anxious about something that hasn’t happened yet. Yes, stepping away was definitely a risk for my long term career goals, but it doesn’t mean I can’t still network with people in radio or keep an eye out for a job that would work better one day. (Still actively seeking out part-time or the whole working from home thing, aka, the dream! Praying emoji hands.)
Maybe I’ll even decide to start over in a whole new career, who knows? When a friend of mine graduated high school then went on to college, his mom went back to college too. She started all over with a whole new career, which I only recently found out about, but it inspired me and made me feel like it won’t ever be too late for me. I’m confident I’ll have options and figure something out eventually when the time is right.
Overall, it’s just strange to feel so fulfilled in every other aspect of life yet so lost career wise. But at the same time…
I can’t imagine NOT doing this.
I truly wouldn’t trade it for any outside job right now. I want to be at home with my son! I feel like it’s taboo to admit that, but it makes me a happier mama. It’s worth everything I’ve given up, and it will be worth the challenges of clawing my way back into my career one day. Last thing I want when Sebastien starts Kindergarten and he’s no longer spending the majority of his days with me is realizing I spent five years worrying about my career the whole time instead of enjoying the time I had with him.
So in the meantime, I’ll continue to embrace the opportunity in front of me because I feel so lucky to be able to be a mom who stays at home. And the truth is, besides random moments of self-induced guilt for those zero dollars I’m bringin’ in…
I love what I do right now.
Even when I’m exhausted with bags under my eyes and a mix of boogers and tears on my sleeve while cleaning up the same mess for the 400th time. (Yeah, I may not be making money, but I sure as hell work!)
Most importantly, I’m proud of what I do. I am way more proud of this than any highlight of my radio career. Which was interviewing DJ Pauly D from Jersey Shore. (That’s a joke. Or is it?) Plus, now I get to wear whatever the f*** I want. Leggings all day, everyday!
xo – Bri
P.S. that was a long one so thanks for sticking with me… and I didn’t even touch on the potential social challenges of a stay-at-home, but perhaps that’s a blog for another day?