I’ve always wanted to be a mother. This I knew from a very young age. I also always wanted to be the opposite of my mother, in that I wanted a career. I wanted to wear nice clothes and go to an office everyday. My mother worked from home, and did it so she could be at home with us.

I went to college, searched for a career, and found myself in grad school. I was passionate about what I was studying and became deeply invested. My teachers were some of the very greatest as were my classmates. We were pushed to reach the best we could and my desire for a real career intensified. I still knew I wanted kids, but they were second to my career, and A. spoke of wanting to stay home. That sounded perfect to me, I could have my career and my family. I never gave one thought to staying home. I thought it was a sign of weakness. Why after working so hard would I give it all up just to stay home? I quivered at the idea of a blank period of time on my resume.

After grad school I did a national job search, and A. was willing to go almost anywhere I got a job. We moved to Western MA and once I did start my job I had little time for us. After just two weeks on the job, I went into a six week period of working close to, if not more than 60 hours a week. I don’t think A. knew what she’d signed on for, but she never complained. Each year it’s gotten a little easier, but there is no escaping the busy times when I work till 11:30.

A. believes strongly in each person having “three corners” to balance out their whole being. The corners represent family, self, and work (or something like that). Perhaps this is why she never took issue with me investing ridiculous amounts of time into my studies and later into my work. I step back now and see that I have not invested equally in all areas, and I would say the career corner gets the most of my attention. But I see that changing.

As our journey towards motherhood has begun yet another lap, I am questioning my career goals. Grad school was easy for me. I always heard horror stories about how hard it is. Sure, I was challenged and worked very hard, but they were the two best years of my life, I had so much fun and grew more as a person than I ever had. Likewise, I am good at my job, and am easily successful. So it’s no wonder working satisfies me. It’s something I can control and do well. Trying to get pregnant, well I’ve failed at that. My determined self wouldn’t give up, and kept getting back up to bat, as if I were somehow addicted to the thrill of trying, playing the odds that it may work.

Each cycle that I lost the pregnancy game, I became more and more wedded to mothering, as my work. After trying so hard for so long, and giving so much of myself: emotionally, physically, spiritually, how could I hand my child to a day care provider? I began to understand the meaning of mothering in a way I never had. I’m sure it helped that I witnessed my SIL as a SAHM and the many ways my nephew benefited from this.

As you may imagine my shift from professional career woman, to wanna be stay at home mom was very confusing. I have (had) many strategic plans for my career. My current position would last three to four years, then I’d be ready to move on, this year in addition to working fulltime I’ve been working an internship to position myself for my next move. I have a plan, but now I want to throw the plan out the window.

And then there’s the conference I just returned from. Nothing makes me want my career more than spending five days with 10,000 of my colleagues. How can that not invigorate me? Many of who had their families in tow…I think, see it can be done. I met a woman in a career-mapping workshop and connected immediately. We were both in places of taking the next year to ready ourselves for our next step. Then she tells me she recently found out she’s pregnant, and was upset. You see, she’d tried for a really looooong time, with no success. When it was not working she gave up the idea and redirected her energy to make strategic career plans. Now she’s caught in a place where she can’t decide what she wants, her career or to stay at home.

As difficult as the last 2 ½ years have been, and with all the ups and downs, I can honestly say I am happy that I have not gotten pregnant. I’ve had some amazing twenty-something experiences during this time that I would not trade, could not have had with a child. The time and trials afforded me the chance to really work out what I want from the mothering experience. I am not quite there, but at least know I want to shift my focus, even if just a tad, more on family and less on work. And for the record, I loved that my mom was at home with us. She has an amazingly successful career now, and rarely has time to hang out with us when we go to visit. I know that as a kid, I would not have been able to understand why she’d choose that over me.

I realize I have not addressed the financial side of staying home. I will in a later post. I dream about staying home, but am not sure that it’s even with in our reach. For now, I am enjoying the fantasy, but I think it’s important to address the reality, and the privilege.

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