I have always worked. In junior high, in high school, all through college…sometimes they were odd jobs, sometimes they were career defining roles. No matter what, I was constantly employed. And I didn’t mind! I relished making my own money, having my own health benefits and earning my vacation time. I liked my various work spaces, and I made friends wherever I worked, so much so that I’m still close and friendly with many people that I worked with over a decade ago.
My attachment to my working life explains why I never saw myself as being a stay-at-home mom. Heck, it was not my lifelong dream to become a mom at all. My parents had an ugly divorce, so when I was young and naïve about the changes life could bring, I swore that I would never bring a child into this world that would have to suffer like I did.
And then I met my husband. I fell in love with him faster than even I thought possible. The idea that we could create a family together became enticing to me. And so, I knew as soon as he proposed (if not before), that I wanted to be a mom.
We got pregnant pretty easily and quickly: our first daughter was due two weeks before our first wedding anniversary. Tragically, she died before she ever had a chance to live. I had to deliver her still with no explanation as to why it happened, and no guidance on how to move on with our lives from that point. Like everyone who encounters the tragedy of stillbirth, we were grief-stricken and scared and sad and we thought maybe we took too much for granted when we fell in love. Maybe we had expected too much from life.
Luckily, a little over two years later, we brought home our second daughter. We adopted her. I always say it was a blessing; she has felt as much like ours as our first child. From the moment we got the call that we had been placed, we knew we were going to be parents at long last and we were thrilled.
I stayed home with our rainbow baby for three months. Reluctantly, I went back to work. I enjoyed being a working mom for a few months, until I got laid off.
So I became a stay-at-home mom, but not by choice. I had no idea how to be a full time mom. It was never my plan. Suddenly, my main job was my daughter. Talk about work! The days blurred together and I was exhausted beyond measure. But something else surprised me: I loved it. So my husband and I decided that I would continue to stay home with her. We knew from experience that anything can change in an instant, that the good moments can turn tragic. So we decided to keep this good moment going. The goal was for me to get some freelance writing work and do what I could professionally, but that being a mom would be my primary focus.
The plan has worked out, which likely surprises no one but me. I have found ways to bring in some money, be creative, get my name in print and still be a stay-at-home mom. Currently, our daughter in preschool three days a week and home with me the other two days a week. It works for us. Working from home and making my own hours gives me a lot of flexibility. It gives me time to go to the gym, the grocery store, run errands and earlier this month, help out at my daughter’s Valentine’s Day party at school.
And there I was, the career woman who never wanted to be a mom, standing in the classroom distributing Valentine’s Day cards. I passed out snacks like applesauce and cheese sticks. I helped the teachers with the classroom activities. I did it all while watching my daughter beam with pleasure to see that I was there.
I remain surprised by how much fun I had in the classroom that day. Right now, there are no corporate suits in my future. No PowerPoint presentations. No big meetings. There are, though, play dates, crafts, giggles and many more trips to my daughter’s classroom to help out — in fact, I can’t wait for the next time. I never saw myself as the mommy type because I couldn’t envision what surprises—good and bad—life would bring me. I still don’t. But for now, now I am the “homeroom mom” life and loving every minute it.