Being a stay-at- home-mom for almost eight years was a privilege and blessing that I will always be grateful for. Sure, there were times when I felt like the only “me time” I had was while I was grocery shopping or at the dentist, but despite the hours of potty training, making snacks, cleaning up messes and playing super hero for the ten billionth time, I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. My time spent with both of my children during their most formative years gave memories I will treasure forever.
I always said that I would stay home with my kids until they were in full day school, at which point it would be time for me to go back to work. My daughter is now eight and my son is five, so this past September I took the big leap of going back to work after eight years of being out of the work force. I was both excited for the new change, and terrified that I no longer ‘had what it takes’ to be successful in the work force.
To say that it was intimidating applying for a job after all of those years would be an understatement. What would I put on my resume? Who would want to hire someone who hasn’t worked in 8 years? Would I even remember how to do my old job? How will my kids adjust to someone else bringing them to and from school every day? What happens when they are sick? There were so many unknowns, and I really wasn’t sure how it was all going to work out, but I knew that women all around the world somehow pull off being a working mom every day, and if they could do it then so could I.
My first few weeks of work were a BIG adjustment, especially for my husband and kids. I had to hand over all of my previous responsibilities of the morning routine to my husband. The big job of getting the kids dressed, brushing teeth, making lunches and making sure they made it to school in happy spirits, was now in his hands. Even though I knew that working was the best thing for my family, I still couldn’t help but feel a tinge of guilt every morning when I had to kiss them goodbye. I was no longer that mom who volunteers at school events and gets to know all of the parents during pick up and drop off. To some those things may seem insignificant, but for me this was a big loss.
While I was mourning the precious time I would no longer have with my two kids, at the same time I was enjoyinga new sense of freedom and empowerment I hadn’t felt in years. I now had access to the adult world once again. There’s something to be said about the independence felt when we are able to bring in an income for our family and pursue work outside of the home.
Another thing I didn’t expect to enjoy so much was the commute to and from work. Having the chance to sit alone in my car for 40 minutes each day was such a treat. For the first time in years I could listen to the news, or just sit in silence. I know it sounds like a little thing to get excited about, but for me this was a big deal. I still look forward to my time alone in the car each day.
The feeling of pride and guilt I felt in the beginning was a paradox I wasn’t expecting. Now that life has settled and my family and I have found a new rhythm, this has become the new normal for us.