Prior to Rowan’s arrival, my game plan was to take a 12-week maternity leave and go back to work part-time in January. My job allowed me to work from home, so Arthur and I (mistakenly) thought I could do it all without help. And by “do it all” I mean work a 4-hour day in between caring for baby, walking the dog, doing house chores, and preparing dinner. I had a feeling I was biting off more than I could chew, but I figured it was worth a shot. After a month into parenthood, I told Arthur that the plan needed to be revised.
We had calculated the cost of childcare before, so we knew we would basically be handing over my paycheck to whomever we entrusted to care for our son while I worked. I’d be okay with that if my job was something I loved or if there was more room to grow within the company, but that wasn’t the case. If my paycheck contributed significantly to our day-to-day expenses, I’d find a way to make my job fit into my life as a mom. But it didn’t. So Arthur and I had a serious discussion about me not returning to work.
Now it’s official: I’m a stay-at-home mom. It was a tough decision to make, but it makes me happier than I ever thought I could be. I get to be there for every diaper change, feeding, nap, and smile. I’m the one who gets to comfort my child when he’s in distress. I feel slightly guilty for not financially contributing to our family; however, I know that I’m contributing in other ways. I also know firsthand how wonderful it is to have a stay-at-home mom, and I’m glad that we’re fortunate enough to provide that support for Rowan.
Sometimes I feel defensive when people ask if I’m going back to work and I explain that I’m not. The running joke in our house is that I stay home eating bonbons while watching Oprah, but I secretly fear that’s what people envision my days are like. The stigma associated with my new job title bothers me, yet I’ve never been more proud of what I do. I’m reminded of Charlotte in Sex and the City when she tells Miranda that she’s quitting her job, and Charlotte adamantly defends this decision with, “I choose my choice!” And I do, wholeheartedly. But when I share that I’m a stay-at-home mom, I anticipate the patronizing looks and polite but disingenuous, “That’s great,” comments from those who think this is a lesser ambition than CEO, lawyer, doctor, etc. I have gotten a couple reactions like that, but more often than not, I’ve gotten overwhelming support and happiness from others.
Now please excuse me, I have an episode of Oprah to tend to. After all, it won’t watch itself, and my box of bonbons are melting.