The unknown is always scary – especially when you’re leaving something behind that you’ve grown accustomed to for years. Meg from Phase Three of Life is about to step into the world of becoming a stay at home mom – and it’s not easy. Have you been in her shoes? Maybe this will resonate with you.
Life is a collection of moving parts, a constant shifting of priorities.
Things are moving and shifting right now.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll pack up our things and trek 2,500 miles across the country to live near family for the first time in almost a decade. With us we bring two cars, some furniture, our two-year-old son, our anxiety-ridden cat, and a severance package.
It’s not a decision we made abruptly, nor was the severance package delivered without warning. We’ve known this was coming and have prepared for it. We are excited, and we are hopeful. I am also a little bit terrified.
By way of background: I am from Ohio; Mike is from Pennsylvania. We met in Arizona when we both took jobs straight out of college working for the same newspaper. We have never, in our entire 8-year relationship, lived near family. To live so far from family is both exhilarating in its independence and crushing in its isolation. It has been equal parts fun and hollow. That might sound strange, but it is our normal. It is all our relationship has ever known.
It’s been hard for me to admit that the scariest part for me isn’t the move itself (a logistical feat of epic proportions necessitating epic amounts of wine), the friends we’ll miss, the beautiful landscape we are giving up or the lack of employment … it’s the fact that I’ll be staying home all day, every day. With a toddler.
I’m not really a “kid person.” You know my type: Never one to really play “house” as a kid or babysit as a teenager or really think much about babies at all until I got married. Obviously, I love my kid like crazy. I was grateful to be able to spend a few months of maternity leave with him; and then I was grateful to go back to work and use my skills and talents in a way I couldn’t at home.
Ryan’s daycare teachers were loving and wonderful and I not only felt comfortable leaving him with them but also blessed to have them in his life. However, as time passed and Ryan grew older, it became clear that he did not thrive in daycare. Ryan is reserved, introverted, someone who needs quiet time. Daycare is loud and chaotic and overstimulating. He refuses to nap there on most days, which means he becomes tired, anxious and combative. Nights and weekends at home are often spent either trying to catch him up on sleep or dealing with an overtired, cranky toddler who doesn’t want anything to do with anything.
Still, I struggled with the decision to stay home. There are many (all?) Sunday nights when Mike and I collapse on the couch after a weekend of Nonstop Toddler Attitude, smirking at each other and saying how we can’t wait to go to work on Monday. I’m afraid I’ll come to resent Monday mornings when Mike gets to escape to an office and I don’t. That I’ll wish I could put on a dress and heels and go to meetings where we discuss something a little more impactful than the plotline to the latest episode of Dinosaur Train.
In short, I’m afraid I’ll lose myself. That I’ll become just a mom. That I am giving up my career to do something I won’t enjoy or be particularly good at. (And yes, then I feel terrible for feeling that way. Mom Guilt knows no boundaries.)
But the logical, non-emotional, non-stressed-out part of me knows that life isn’t black and white. I don’t have to be just a mom or just anything. While my career may have dominated my focus for a while, now is the time for family to take that spot. One focus is not inherently better than the other … it’s the timing and intent behind that focus that matters. Choosing to stay home doesn’t mean my career goes away forever; it doesn’t mean I lack ambition. It means that for this season of my life, my child needs to be my priority.
Besides, soon enough, Ryan won’t need me nearly as much, and the pieces will shift again. And I very well might not welcome that day when it arrives.
It’s a little scary, though. All the changes, all the unknown. The new scenery. The new roles. I need to keep faith that everything will move and shift into place just the way it is meant to.
That’ll we’ll all be fine. That we’ll be great. Even the anxiety-ridden cat.
Bio: Meg Walbert is a former journalist and current public relations professional on her way to becoming a stay-at-home mom. She gets through the day with a healthy dose of wit, sarcasm, beer and a little more sarcasm. She blogs about her life and her toddler’s tantrums at phasethreeoflife.com. She also runs a writing and editing consulting business at magnawriting.com in order to exercise her brain and keep her sane.