Am I Ready To Be a Stay At Home Mom? Around the Bonfire

by Gigi Ross on March 6, 2013

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.

becoming a stay at home mom

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.

{ 11 comments }

Susan Keller March 6, 2013 at 8:18 am

Meg, we have very similar backgrounds. Not only did I come from journalism, but my husband and I are from NY/NJ, met in CA, lived out there away from family for eight years then took the plunge to move back east, closer to family when I was eight mos. pregnant. I became a stay at home mom to our daughter, followed by two sons.
I found ways to not isolate myself, gave my daughter/kids opportunities that would enable me to have time with friends. While we lived closer to family, it wasn’t close enough to rely on them for a lot of help, so I found creative ways to get time out for myself (my husband travels quite a bit for work). I would exchange babysitting with a neighbor, I found a local gym that had babysitting for an hour a day so I could work out, I made sure to not lose myself (although there were times I thought I had), but it was a great experience, I stayed home for 8 years.
When we moved (again) from NC to VA I found part time work from home writing for our local newspaper. It was a perfect fit for my situation and gave me my creative outlet without compromising time with my family. In your bio, it sounds like you might already have your cretive outlet, so that is great!
I did go back to work this year, kids are 9, 7 and 4. Just like you mentioned, another transition. I like the balance it has given me, especially b/c I chose something that gives me the same time off as my school aged children. While I was disappointed to leave journalism, this is what i need to do right now.
I wish you the best on your move cross country, setting up your new life and your transition to staying at home. Seek out ways to not lose yourself but also embrace the new you that you will become in this new role.

Meg {Phase Three of Life} March 6, 2013 at 11:20 am

Wow, Susan, we really have taken a similar path. Thank you for your suggestions – I especially like the idea of finding a gym with a play area for Ryan. (Work out time for me + socialization time for Ryan = everybody wins.) It’s also good to hear that you were able to find something part-time that has given you the best of both worlds now that your kids are in school. I’m hoping to find that balance, too. Thank you for commenting! :)

Megan March 6, 2013 at 9:50 am

Ex journalist here too.
I miss it- all of he people you meet, trying to get that perfect shot.
I have a hard time getting to my sons level during playtime, but I found other activities, like baking, help me connect ( And leave the kitchen a mess!) finding a group on Meetup.com will help- its hard making friends on the playground.

Meg {Phase Three of Life} March 6, 2013 at 11:21 am

There are so many of “ex-journalists,” aren’t there?? I love to bake, too, so that will be a good activity for me to do with him that will be fun for both of us. Good idea on checking out meetup.com – sites like those seem to be the easiest way to make friends these days.

Sue March 6, 2013 at 11:41 am

Lots of similarities here… I’m from MA, husband is from CT, we live in Atlanta and have for our entire relationship. I know exactly what you mean about being far from family being both good and bad! We’re so used to it at this point that we’ve gotten really good at doing everything for ourselves without help. But I think we’ll head back closer to family eventually.
Anyway…I am also on the verge of making the decision to stay at home. I have a 3 year old son, and am 8 weeks into maternity leave with our second. I never thought I’d even entertain the option of being a SAHM, but here I am. For me, my job is just that–a job, not a career, and nothing I’m passionate about anymore. My husband makes way more than I do, and financially we’ll be fine without my income. But I have the exact same fears you do. In a nutshell–what if I’m not good at it? What if my kids are bored? What if I lose my mind? But I keep coming back to the thought that I can always decide it’s not for me and find another job. But I can never go back and do it over again if I decide to go back to work. So I think I’ll give it a shot. Yikes.
I look forward to reading about how it goes for you (over on your blog!) And good luck with the move!

Meg {Phase Three of Life} March 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm

“But I keep coming back to the thought that I can always decide it’s not for me and find another job. But I can never go back and do it over again if I decide to go back to work.” <— Wow, I hadn't thought of it that way … you're so right. I can always get another job. I can't always stay home with my kiddo. Thank you, I needed to hear that. :)

Meg {Phase Three of Life} March 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm

“But I keep coming back to the thought that I can always decide it’s not for me and find another job. But I can never go back and do it over again if I decide to go back to work.” <— Wow, I hadn't thought of it that way … you're so right. I can always get another job. I can't always stay home with my kiddo. Thank you, I needed to hear that. :)

Rachel March 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

It is going to be more than fine….you are going to love the east coast!

Chaunie March 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I know all about this struggle, but I like how you mentioned that it can be a temporary solution–they aren’t little forever! I’m a WAHM and a part-time nurse with three little ones at home with me full-time, so I feel your pain. I think it’s incredible that you are so attuned to what your son needs. Good luck!!

Deb @ San Diego Momma March 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I quit my job as a writer for a non-profit agency almost exactly six years ago today and felt so much like you do now.

I still feel that way.

I had zero experience staying at home and had no idea what to wear to “work from home” and remember deciding that t-shirts and jeans were the way to go – but I wore them awkwardly for years.

I’m not the type of person to be fulfilled being a mom only – and you know what? THAT’S OK. We were three-dimensional people before we had kids and we will (hopefully) be the same when they leave the nest. I truthfully don’t understand people who are “all about their kids,” as if their kids are the only thing that makes them a person. Our children go on to become three-dimensional people. Would we advise them to stop everything “other” about themselves to parent?

I wouldn’t.

That said, this shift in lifestyle is writing fodder and good for the soul and brain, and do not ever feel guilty for having reservations over staying at home.

The unspoken sentiment that we must be completely happy parenting and give everything over to momming does a disservice to women everywhere.

We don’t stop being people when we become moms.

As my trainer says (who I’ve had for one short month because my freelance writing career does not support such luxuries) when I compare myself to more buff and disciplined exercisers: “you do you and let her do her.”

Everyone has different feelings about parenting and as long as you love your kid, you’ll do you and it’s going to be just fine.

Connie @ Real Food Family Meals March 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Thanks for sharing your story. Though your transition may be a bit challenging, I bet you will surprise yourself with how much you like being a SAHM. You are so right in recognizing that all too soon, your son will not need you as much.
I had a former boss who liked to say, “Your job as a parent is to work yourself out of a job.” I turn to that quote every time I need to be reminded that my kids will grow up to be independent free-thinking selves who will live their own lives. Best of luck with this next step in your life.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: