I was raised in a fairly traditional home. My parents never really had clear expectations for my future, beyond hoping I’d marry a nice guy – preferably one with money – have some kids, and live happily ever after. For all intents and purposes, that’s basically how they lived their lives. But even when I was very young, I knew I’d want more. To me, my mom’s life as a stay-at-home wife was far too boring and unsatisfying.
I had always intended to work in the entertainment business somehow – I dreamed of being a singer/actress/Madonna. As I got older and more realistic about my life’s goals, I focused on the business end of the things: I was determined to own my own record label. When I faced the reality that that wasn’t going to happen, I figured I’d go to school to become a writer. Eventually, my ambition shifted to teaching.
No matter what career path I dreamed of, or which professional road I ended up following, working was always in the cards for me. I wanted to be a “professional woman”; I wanted to be independent, even if it was with a husband. And that didn’t really change when I had my kids. Yes, going back to work a few months after having both of my boys was difficult, and I did miss them terribly, but I liked working; I can’t stand being idle.
In the last few years, I started feeling differently. I was increasingly dissatisfied with teaching. My oldest son had started school, and with it, started having programs for me to attend, and homework to help him with. His little brother needed plenty of my attention, and with all of the planning and grading I had to do – as well as the long hours I had to stay at work after school for conferences and activities, I was often too tired to give them both the attention they needed and deserved from me. I’m blessed with a great husband who has always been a tremendous help with the cooking, cleaning, and caretaking, but I felt my kids needed me, too.
We made a big move to another state this summer to be closer to my husband’s family. And if the culture wasn’t hard enough to adjust to (we moved to the South from the Midwest), I accepted a teaching job at a rural school. I was miserable from the start for various teaching career-related reasons, but I realized for the first time in my life that I wanted to be at home – with my kids, being a mom. So, two months into my contract, I quit teaching.
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 3 weeks now, and although I’m a little antsy and sometimes need to get out of the house, I’m pretty content. I take my first-grader to school in the morning, and then I come back home and spend the day with my 2-year-old. We watch TV, we read, we count, and one of these days, we’ll get around to potty training. We’ve established a routine, which is occasionally disrupted by an errand I have to run, or an urge to get him into the fresh air. Even if I have to do work on the computer and have to leave him to his own devices for a little while, I still feel like I’ve made the right decision. I guess I won’t know how “right” for sure until a few more weeks pass, and the bills start to pile up.