I recently moved to Southern California from New York with my husband and our two children, ages 6 and 3. As anyone would, I had my reservations about the move. Would my kids miss their grandparents? Would they be able to make friends easily? What if they hate the weather (as if that is possible!)? How will they adjust? Well, the answers to all of those questions are – just fine!!
Both of them transitioned seamlessly into our new lifestyle of going to the beach after school, playdates at the park and swimming in October. They both made friends and love their schools. My husband is excelling at his job and loves his career.
And then there’s me….
I’ve been working since I was 16. There has never not been a time where I had a job. I worked as a camp counselor, worked in retail, waitressed, tended bar, even worked in a head shop in college selling posters and “water pipes”. After college I went on and got a “big girl job” as a Buyer’s assistant, eventually moving on to become a Buyer for a major retail corporation. I left the corporate world when my husband and I decided to have kids to focus on raising our family. I started working part time so that I would be able to be home as much as possible with the kids, but when my husband’s job offered him a promotion to move out to the west coast, I knew that working even part time wasn’t going to be an option for me. I would have no support system in California. We were fortunate enough to have both sets of parents within 10 minutes of us back in New York, but when we moved out west we would literally be doing it all on our own. We knew no one. So the decision we made was that I would stay home full time with the kids at least for the first year until we all got acclimated to our new surroundings, and my husband would work. It was the first time in my entire adult life that I had no job, no income, no place to be every day to earn a paycheck.
At first I was embarrassed to admit that I was a stay at home mom. I felt the pity in the way people would respond with, “Oh, well at least you get to be with your kids.” As if being a stay at home mom wasn’t my choice. As if I was somehow conned into it by my husband that he should go out and work and that I really needed to stay home with the kids in order to be a good mom. Then came the guilt. I felt guilty for not being able to provide financially for my family. I felt bad that every bill, every meal, every article of clothing, birthday gift, Christmas gift, vacation and after school activity, fell on my husband financially. I felt as though if I wasn’t contributing financially to the household, then I wasn’t contributing at all.
A few months into living in California, another stay at home mom friend of mine called to see if I wanted to meet up for lunch before we had to pick our kids up from school. It sounded wonderful. An hour of kid free adult time where I could finish my meal in peace and talk about something other than potty training and math homework. Heaven. Unfortunately, I was up to my ears in laundry, had to get dinner started in the crock pot and clean the bathrooms all before I needed to pick up the kids two hours later, only to have to shuttle them to whatever after school activities or play dates were planned for the day. I declined and told her “Maybe next week”, fully knowing that even that was more than likely not going to happen! It wasn’t until later that evening when my husband got home from work and told me about this great new taco place he went to for lunch that I realized, I hadn’t even had the chance to eat lunch that day!
I then started to really think about all that we as stay at home moms do every day. We essentially do the jobs of at least five highly paid professionals, and we do it for free! Chefs get paid to cook for you, housekeepers get paid to clean up after other people, babysitters earn a paycheck looking after kids, teachers get paid to teach and chauffeurs get paid to shuttle us around where we need to be! We could easily be raking in six figures if stay at home mom was a paid job!
I have come across a lot of stay at home moms lately who feel or felt the same way I did. That if they couldn’t contribute financially, that they were somehow failing their families. Ladies, you are not alone!! So many of us newly stay at home moms feel this way! Even though we may not be contributing any money into our house, the work we are doing is worth so much more than any paycheck could give. Know this! Own this.
Over the last few months my feelings of guilt have subsided. I am no longer embarrassed to say that I am a stay at home mom. You know why? Because I am a bad ass stay at home mom. I rock at mommin’! I am raising two tiny humans. I am teaching them to be kind, to have faith, and to be the best that they can be every day. I am showing them that their mother loves them so much that she would give up the life she had before, just to make sure that they grow up to be decent, thoughtful human beings. I am teaching them self-worth, and with that, recognizing my own.