After SAHM: I went back to work and I hated it
Honestly though, I loved when I was home with my children as a “Stay At Home Mom.” I was ALL IN. I embraced every piece of being a full time Mama and homemaker. I took pride in cooking, keep house, home decorating and organizing. I thoroughly embraced homeschooling, picking out curriculum, planning lessons and driving all over the place to social activities. I enjoyed the trips to rehearsals, recitals, plays, baseball games and park days. I had my “me” time and a couple of simple hobbies but my primary role was that of Mama. It wasn’t a job, it was my life. I never loved any job like that and likely, no matter how much I might enjoy present or future endeavors, never will.
Insofar as career or work, I intended to go back to work once the kids were all on their own. I figured that I would begin working part time during their teen years, as the necessity for my direct role in their lives waned and became more indirect, then transition to full time. That’s what I figured. Heck, that’s what I fully expected, so I didn’t put much thought into what I might actually want to do or be in a career sense. I expected to have time to figure that out. Of course life doesn’t play by our expectations though, and I was thrust into full time work, with a sudden bang that felt very premature.
Now I realize this sounds worthy of an exaggerated eye-roll “Oh so what? Poor thing, had to go to work?” Look, I’m being raw and real here and I admit, that going from full time homemaker, homeschooler and Mom for 14 years, to suddenly arriving at a cubicle with a nameplate and deadlines, TORE MY WORLD APART. I hated it. There was no transition. There was a chaotic series of events that fractured the life I loved along its spine. I had to find a good, stable, reliable income and I had to find it fast. So without time to think about what I might actually enjoy doing, I banked on what I knew and what I did in my Pre-Mom life. Sales. I knew it, I figured I still had a knack for it it, and it wasn’t long after building a resume that I landed a job selling advertising for a media company. I HATED IT.
The job itself was actually pretty good. Good people, decent pay, good benefits and sales is… well it’s sales. I was good at it. I am still good at it. No hate there. I didn’t hate the company, the people or the work. I hated that it was an urgent circumstance and that my days of homeschooling my kids, driving them, raising them and taking care of all things having to do with running the household were just GONE. I felt like I’d been fired or forced to quit because that “job” didn’t earn an income. So I had to quit the job I loved most in the world, against my will. And yes, I hated it and struggled to come to terms with it for a long time.
Today as I write this I have fewer complaints about money, and it’s nice to be producing my own financial stability. The kids are on the cusp of their own independent lives now and are thriving and flourishing. I have no legitimate reason to be bitter. But the truth is that I am. Life is good overall, I acknowledge that. The years I missed though, they’re just gone. There’s actually plenty of money in the world and plenty of opportunities to make more of it. But time? Nah, man. We don’t get any more minutes. There’s no going back, there’s no do-over with time, and there’s no getting more, it’s just gone.
It’s not all glum however. My children are young adults. They don’t need me like they used to, and that’s perfectly okay. I mean, I knew this would happen, I wanted it to happen, it’s supposed to happen. It didn’t happen as I expected it to or wanted it to. I know that’s okay. And I’m still pissed off about it, and you know what? That’s okay too. It’s okay to be pissed off.
I’d like for this post to be about how I already processed it all and got over it and I’m on to feeling amazing and have my shit together and everything is all figured out. The truth is that I’m not over it. I accept it but begrudgingly; and I know that it is what it is, but I’m not over it. Not yet.
Being at home with our children is a BLESSING. It’s a sacrifice, absolutely – but one completely worth making. Because I was so fully committed to, and so in love with my life as a stay-at-home-Mom, it is taking me time, tears and long bouts of self-loathing as I learn to come to terms with the reality that it’s really okay. I am still their Mama. I did not abandon my children. I remain committed to them and as I look back at the last few years we have all grown, matured and blossomed like crazy. Reminding myself of this helps.
AND and BOTH my friends… life is not either/or, it is AND and BOTH.
(more on that later)
I changed jobs several times since then, trying to figure out who I am now, and what I actually want to do. I don’t think women go through an identity crisis after full-time Mothering because we don’t know who we are when those years are over. It’s because we do, and now that there isn’t anyone to be who we are for, we get lost. We aren’t the girls we were prior to having children, so everything that mattered to us then… dreams, goals, desires… they’re just not important anymore. Everything is changed. WE have changed.
Our relationships have changed, our world views have changed and we have to now figure out how to apply that through an older, wiser and now stained, and sometimes shattered, lens.
I think we go through this whether we work or not while we are raising children. What probably made it more jarring for me was suddenness of being jolted out of it and tossed into a world in which I didn’t recognize myself, and didn’t give a crap about the woman I had become in the prior decade and a half.
So today as I write this, I currently work as a coach/consultant providing sales training for an amazing company and a great team of people. I work remotely from a home office and that’s a blessing because I am still in a process of self discovery transitioning into a new phase of life. I don’t hate my job. I don’t hate my life. It’s a good job and a good life.
Still, I have some shit to process so I launched this website to share my experiences, ups, downs and therebetween with other parents and families, and perhaps pass along chunks of experienced wisdom along the way. It took a few years but I managed to find slices of time in my bandwidth to engage in this creative expression, because I learned that that is very important to our overall well being.
The kids and I still have a healthy, loving, beautiful relationship and I am extremely proud of the amazing young adults they are becoming.
I don’t think it’s about whether our kids are home-schooled, go to fancy private schools, or attend public school. I don’t think it’s about whether we work, or stay home, whether we are married or single, or whether we earn minimum wage or rack in millions. It’s the love. And it’s the journey of growing through change, both expected and unexpected and managing to move with the tides even when it sucks, even when we’re bitter, even when we’re scared. Because that’s how life is.
Fully embracing the invisible, intangible and inexplicable.
And to you who are reading this – I celebrate you, I love you, I support you and I’m glad you let me share with you my raw, real, ranting dark thoughts about this chapter in my story.