I loved my job, really loved my job. I worked outside the home for many years and hung onto my career for as long as I could. I went from full-time to part-time and when I got pregnant with baby #4, my husband and I decided it was time for me to transition to staying home.
Truthfully, the idea of staying home came up with child #3, but I was determined to make it work with me working part-time outside the home. Having three kids cared for in three different places was less than ideal, but I felt like I had the best of both worlds. I got to stay home a few days and go to work a few days. My kids were also being loved on by family and our church program. It was great, but then the logistics of adding another child with this setup was like trying to add another person to a moving carousel.
Now, for some, being a stay-at-home mom is their dream and a very easy decision to make. For me, it was hard, brutally hard. I was never one who envisioned myself staying home and the thought of leaving a career I worked so hard for scared me. My husband and I both came from families where our moms worked, so this setup was all we knew and we didn’t really consider any other options.
Then there was an overwhelming amount of guilt I felt. Guilt that I didn’t immediately embrace staying home. Guilt because so many friends had the desire to stay home and couldn’t. Guilt because this decision that was so easy for what appeared to be everyone else, was hard for me.
So, when the day came for me to leave the career I loved and stay home with my children, I experienced an array of emotions. Of course, I wanted to be with my children and experience firsthand all the milestones I missed with my first children, but I was entering unknown waters and that was scary. While I knew my first priority was my children and I was fully aware of the blessing to be able to stay home, it didn’t negate the fact that I felt a pull to continue in my career.
The transition to staying home wasn’t natural for me and I didn’t know what to do day in and day out. I was used to the fast pace world my career brought me and now it seemed like brakes were suddenly applied and I had no idea how to restart. I was used to being able to follow a schedule and have measurable productivity, but now my days seemed so open ended. My career involved play therapy with kids, so why was this so hard?!
I remember I tried play groups and mom groups, all of which left me frustrated and escalated my feeling of being inadequate in this new role. All of the other moms I met seemed to be so natural, whereas I felt like I was plucked out of what was natural and thrown onto an island with my kids and goldfish.
Through the process of trying to find my way in this new role, I realized this was such a hard transition because my identity was rooted in my career. I found my value in my career. I defined myself by my career. I looked for my significance in my career. While I’m all about loving your profession, it cannot be how we ultimately define ourselves.
Circumstances and situations will change like the seasons, so my identity has to be rooted in something that will never change. My value, self-worth, purpose can’t be in the things of this world, but in the God who created me and called me fearfully and wonderfully made.
I’m five years into staying at home with my children and it took me a solid two years to find my groove and admit where I misplaced my identity. I realized I had been replanted, but I was still the same person with roots that stretched beyond a career. I still miss my career and maybe one day I will re-enter that world. However, for today I’m home with my family, rooted in the One who created me and teaching my children to do the same.
So, whether your heart’s desire is to someday stay home with your children or to continue your career, as a dear friend once told me, may you always remember who you are and who you belong to.