It all started a little over 4 years ago. My first petite was born in July of 2009. Being a teacher I had the summer off and was able to roll right into maternity leave and then FMLA leave…it was amazing, I was able to stay home with my baby until she was 5 months old. During those first five months I tried my hand at what being a stay at home mom meant to me. I gardened and grew fresh foods that I then would puree into baby food or can. We attended mommy and baby story time at the library. We went to parks, on long walks, to museums. We had playdates with other mommies and babies. It was amazing. Then came the day that I had to go back to work. The week before involved a lot of crying, pumping milk, more crying, not fitting exactly into my work clothes, which led to more crying and just generally fretting. It was during this time that I began the arduous process of convincing myself that I wanted to go back to work, even needed to go back to work to be around other adults, to be with my students.
What I know now, that I didn’t want to admit then, was that I was lying to myself. Deep down I knew it, I knew it as I sat in the parking lot of the school where I worked and cried for 20 minutes before I went in. Cried every time I pumped at work the first few weeks. And I had it pretty good, I was only working part-time only three days a week.
Eventually it got better. I was able to be content at work and make the most of the time I had with the petite when I was at home. I tried to keep the same schedule even going to mommy and baby story time and playdates. As I moved through the year I found myself counting days till holidays and then till summer break. We had made it, I was able to be a stay at home mom for about 2 months.
The following year when my petite was thirteen months old I returned to work full-time. We found a childcare that we loved, with a lady who we were certain would love our petite while we were away. It was still hard to drive off to work each day, but seeing how much she loved her new caregiver it was a lot easier to do, plus she loved playing with her new friends. I was still plagued with mommy guilt, guilt about being tired sometimes when I picked her up, you see she was a horrible sleeper, waking up 4-5 times at night. I felt guilty about that time in the middle of the night where I was miffed about having to get up to go function at work. I felt guilty about not going to mommy and baby story time or playdates. Mainly about missing things, again I tried to convince myself (and believe it) that even if she had a new milestone while I was at work, it would still be new when I saw it after work.
During this time another thing happened that I wasn’t really expecting. I began to resent moms who were able to stay at home with their kids. Especially those moms who would vent about their day at home with the kids on social media. I was jealous, I would have given anything to stay at home, but it just wasn’t feasible for our family at the time. I was doing what I had to do for our family and although I didn’t want to be working it was the situation. I’m also embarrassed to say it but at times thought what do stay at home moms do all day? I have to do all that other stuff when I get home or on the weekends…WTF. What could they possibly fill their days with? Oh dear. Right? Jealous.
When I would get home I ran around like a crazy person trying to get it all done and provide experiences as if I didn’t have to work. Like blueberry picking on the way home, or stopping at parks, setting up ice cream dates after work, trying to do cooking projects with a toddler like making homemade noodles after working all day. Sometimes a success, sometimes yikes.
Well let’s fast forward a bit it’s now June 2013 and our sweet petite is a big sister. Both my girls are just perfect…life couldn’t be better. Then came the discussion about what was going to happen when it was time to go back to work. We lined up the same amazing childcare that we had for our first petite. I sorted out with the HR department when I would come back to work, just after the Thanksgiving holiday. Then came the biggest blessing of my life. As my handsome hubby and I sat down and looked at the budget (a very scary word I have avoided for most of my adult life), we came to the amazing discovery that I did not have to go back to work. WHAT?!?
Again something I didn’t expect happened. I hesitated to jump up and down and scream yes please! I pondered about my students, what it would look like now to stay at home, how it wasn’t really fair that I didn’t get to stay home with the first petite. How I really do love my job. All of these things came into my mind until I realized what I was doing. I was now a full believer of what I told myself four years before. After making the choice to stay at home with my girlies I couldn’t be happier, I try not to bitch and moan if my day happens to be a shit show, especially to people who don’t have the privilege to stay at home with their petites. But more than anything I now fully understand what stay at home moms do all day. They work really hard. I honestly don’t really know how I worked full-time with a little one either. What I do know is that moms who work full-time, part-time or stay at home all work really hard and there is really no sense in sitting around comparing and trying to figure out who works harder than the other. When we could spend that time thinking about how to support each other in our common job of raising petites.