At the time my first son was born, I was confronted with the most challenging decision of my entire life: continuing to pursue my career, or becoming a stay-at-home mom. It suddenly seemed like for my entire life, I was on autopilot. I went from preschool, to elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to college, and then onto my first job. I had an identity in each of these phases.
In middle school, I was a soccer player, on the track and field team, and an honor student. In high school, I was recognized as a star athlete, honor student, captain of the varsity soccer team, and involved in various activities. Then I went onto college where I was a full-ride scholarship women’s soccer player, an elementary education major while maintaining a 3.8 grade point average, a senior captain who set records, and a Michigan State Spartan.
Following my education, I entered the workforce. There, I had a job title, job description, a paid salary, health benefits, detailed accolades, and tangible accomplishments. I was always able to answer the one question, “What do you do?” in a confident, proud manner.
That is, until I became a stay-at-home mom. Most parents would agree—whether working or SAHMs—that it’s the “most important job in the world.” So why is it when asked the question, “What do you do?” I begin to sweat, stutter, feel unworthy, and mostly feel like a non-contributor to the world. Without doubt, I have experienced a severe identity crisis.
When asked this question, what I really want to say is, “My name is Erin. I graduated college with a degree. I played college and semi-professional soccer and then coached college soccer.” For some reason, that answer sounds a hell of a lot more respectable and provides a quick synopsis of my passion and past life rather than, “I’m a stay-at-home mom.” But, at this point, I am a stay-at-home mom, and that is what I have chosen to pursue.
I love my children more than life itself. I love watching their beaming smiles at baby classes as we sing, dance, and jump. They provide more joy, love, and affection than any of my other roles in life. But, still, I always question my self-worth to the world, society, and a greater cause.
In school, you are awarded with a grade at the end of each semester; an acknowledgment of the hard work put forth. In work, I was given bonuses following successful seasons. Again, based on the amount of work I put in, the more money I earned.
Being a stay-at-home mom, I do not receive a weekly paycheck to see my earnings from a long, hard, sometimes aggravating week. I do not receive prominent awards for benchmarks reached. In reality, I get hit and kicked 7 out of 10 times by my 2-year-old, food thrown at my face, a temper tantrum out in public that I’m unable to control, or a screaming child in his crib when it’s supposed to be nap time. Call it bad parenting or not, my boys have tempers, they have physical moments, and they push my buttons and know how to break my patience better than anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many moments in between where they come and give me a kiss, or laugh hysterically at something we are doing, or even sit quietly on my lap while reading a story. And these are the reasons I choose to be at home with my kids. These moments outshine the aggravating, frustrating, and exhausting days.
The bottom line: Be proud of being a stay-at-home mom. It is the only job in that world that provides you unconditional love, teaches you patience, allows you to teach and be a part of the most precious things in your life: your offspring.
It has been a journey so far, and I can’t wait for what life brings me next. As my kids have entered school, and I have more time on my hands, I have finally found an opportunity in which I am able to be home for my children and utilize my skills, passion, and experiences to hopefully help make a difference in this world. I plan to continue writing and speaking about overcoming a significant eating disorder while competing in college soccer. My goal is to influence others to have a positive self-image, prioritize character over appearance, and recognize an issue if one exists and seek help.
Being a stay-at-home has reignited my passion in life, is allowing me to pursue it, and I am proud to own that title.