For clarification, I just want to say, I love staying home.

I wouldn't have had it any other way. I could not physically bring myself to drop my son off at daycare and go to work. I had the option. But I couldn't. I don't judge other women for doing it, I think staying home versus not staying home is an extremely personal choice and everyone should decide what is good for them and their family. I am on everyone's side when it comes to making personal decisions for family. Just to make that known.

Two of my very favorite friends in the world had monumental news for me this week. I had worked with both of them in tv news as grunts. The very bottom rung on the career ladder. Making zilch. Eating, breathing, sleeping work. We were the single, climbing the corporate ladder-20-somethings, passionate, obsessed, go-getter career-women. Able to move or travel anywhere in a single bound should the opportunity present itself. Late nights? Ok! Holidays? Sure! Work through lunch? Of course! No days off? It's necessary! Breaking news? Vacation postponed? Done!

Then, the longer were were in, all of us who started together were really starting to get somewhere. Things had started taking off for me, too, when I got a job as a writer at a bureau at one of the biggest news agencies. I was making it happen. Finally getting somewhere. Gettin' a little respect.

Then I got engaged, left that job, moved back to Florida to be with my husband-then-fiance, and popped out a couple of kids. On the career front, I put things on hold. I decided to stay home. I tried to picture going back to work, but when it came time to make the ultimate decision, I just couldn't do it. Maybe it was because the first one came at 34 weeks and I felt the need to stay with him as long as I could. Then when he was 10 months old and just starting to even think about working again, I found out I was pregnant.

So this week, both of my friends were offered their dream jobs. All that hard work, finally paying off. One works in entertainment and will be paid (and paid well) to travel and cover entertainment news. The other is becoming an actual management big-wig at one of the cable networks. I saw the title. It's unbelieveably fantastic. I can hardly believe it had it not been for her new shiny business card she presented to me, but it's true and they both so deserve it.

And I am doubled over with happiness for them! I mean, this is what it's all been for! Finally! I feel so honored to have been there with them at the beginning. All that thankless work for crap pay is turning into something out of a dream!!

So leave it to me to make their news about me, right?

After all of the excitement over the weekend and talking about it and congratulating them and giddy girly-ness and squealing, when it all settled down and I got a few minutes to myself, after loading the groceries into the car and sitting down at the steering wheel to turn the car on, I just broke down.

And cried. 9 o'clock at night in a grocery store parking lot by myself. Apparently this bothered me in some way.

I was completely overcome and I didn't know why. I wouldn't change a thing in the world about staying home. But I guess I couldn't help but wonder, what if?

Where would I be had I not taken a time-out? What stories would I have covered? What honors would I have had? What amazing people would I have worked for and with? What contacts would I have made? What stories would I have to tell? Which job would have been next? How much closer to my dreams would I be now?

Instead, now I wonder, "What is my dream?"

I'm not that 20-something jet-setter anymore. I don't even know if I have that in me anymore. I thought to myself this hurricane season about offering myself up to freelance in the field should a hurricane hit, but then thought, duh, I'm still nursing, it's not like I can pump in the middle of a satellite truck in the middle of a bunch of old tv guys looming around.

When I calmed down a little after being sideswiped by these emotions I didn't even know I had, I thought about choices. How interesting that choosing a seemingly-simple path like getting
married could take someone down such another, completely unpredictable path. How choosing to get married would parlay so quickly into 30-something, home ownership and having children. And a whole different person of "me" entirely. These were things we chose. I chose. I didn't even think too much about it, come to think of it. I just went with the current of my life. I drifted along, naturally doing what came to me, leaving career for another day, another time. I never asked myself what the options were, I just knew what the options weren't. Like, for reasons very important to me, not marrying this man: not an option. Not moving home where my family was: not an option. Waiting to have kids: not an option.

I did so little thinking about where I was headed that I don't think I prepared myself for how I'd feel once I got there. I didn't foresee how I would feel when I saw what happened to all my friends who chose "Option A", while I chose "Option B".

I didn't think that far ahead.

My only consolation, which is a pretty big one, is that when I look back, I don't see "Option A" as an option. Yes, me. Go-getter-career-girl. I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't have chosen "Option A" because that would have meant choosing something other than my husband, who is my absolute, well, absolute. That's really the only way I can put it.

It must follow, too, that somewhere along the way, my career took a backseat. Literally, without telling me, it got out of the driver's seat, closed the door, and sat itself in the back. One day, I woke up and bam! I deemed this man and my family my number one priority. So I guess if we're talking about choices and having it all, I should be so proud that I had pictured my life a certain way and I made that happen. I always pictured marrying the type of man I married. I always pictured having children. I always pictured staying home with them. And I did that.

So what's the problem then? If I wouldn't change a thing, then what's the problem?

Maybe I think it'd have been nice to see how far I could go. Because choosing an entirely different path usually means new forks, and the new forks lead to new places and you can't go back to choose a different first path which would have led to the first set of forks because those are all closed now. But had I chosen that first path, what dream jobs would have been offered to me had I just kept on? What would I have been capable of? I guess, though, that I only need look as far as my front door for that.

I'm capable of raising two loving and hysterically funny children, one of which makes "bandaids" out of turkey slices and plasters them all over his face and the table on their fake "wounds". Of being a wife and on occasion, an understanding one. Of actually cooking a meal without sending anyone to the emergency room. And for that matter, actually being able to "throw something together" and having it taste (dare I say) good. Of coming up with creative ways to teach my children, like "Crazy Carrot Man" for the Letter C. Of reading the same book over and over and over again at bedtime without getting annoyed. Of being able to not exist on Ramen noodles and bologna alone. These are things I wouldn't have known about myself had I not chosen this path. Who knew I'd love being a mother so much? That this path would have chosen me, really, more than I have chosen it?

So I put my career on hold for a while. So it appears I won't be some big manager at a news network anytime soon. That means I have more time to dream up something else, right? To construct a new, maybe even better evil plan. Mwahahaaaaa!

After all, I wouldn't be a woman if I didn't ponder, cry, and/or obsess over this age-old inner conflict about career versus family, right? Because that's what we do.

Now.... back to the Batcave!

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  1. it IS what we do, Girlfriend and you and I are so alike.

    this sentence?
    I could not physically bring myself to drop my son off at daycare and go to work.

    written by me to friends SOSOSOSO many times...


  2. Girl, I know your pain. I can so relate to all of this. You are aching to do what you thought you were meant to do, all the while you are doing what you are called to do. It is such a sacrifice, one that most do not understand. Women that have worked, that are career minded have such a harder time stepping out of that role, into the SAHM role. I honor you, admire you for making the choice. I could not do it. I am ok with taking my kids to daycare. But I didn't have a premature baby, I did not walk down that path. It was a selfish move at first for me, deciding to head back to work. But in the end, I know that it was the best move for my family. I am a better mom, a better person by working. There is a place in the world for all of us. I can only hope you will find that perfect balance in your life.

  3. VERY well put. HUGS and I hear ya :) Not that I'd change a thing. But sometimes I miss my old goals...even if it's just a little bit.

  4. You put into words what so many of us feel on a daily basis. Some days I wonder if I would be happier if I had a career outside the home and could then come home and focus on the kids. The answer is no. Yet sometimes I feel so lost between being a mom and everything else that goes on every day. I suppose I'll always question the whole career vs mom thing. I know I made the right decision to stay home with the kids and it sounds like you did too! Thanks for sharing!

  5. All I can say is count your blessings!! My son is now in kindergarten, but for the first 4 years of his life, I was one who HAD to drop him off at daycare & it killed me slowly every single day. But as a single Mom, I had to provide health care etc., for him - so it wasn't an option for me.

    So I say to all those who are able to be there for their kids - always count your blessings!!!

  6. I dont have children yet, but i loved this post. I often wonder what stay at home moms feel like. I am quite sure that I underestimate how hard it is. I mean, yes you get to be with your children, but on the other hand, you are with children ALL day. I admire that dedication. Really, I do. I respect that you did it for you family.

  7. What an insightful post, and oh, how I too relate. I do think "if only...." or "if we waited a few more years..." etc...

    It takes a strong person to atriculate it in such a way...what a great job you did so ALL moms can relate!

    Great post!

  8. I think you made a wonderful choice! And I think that you will feel more satisfied and rewarded in the long run by the choices that you have made.

    I also think that it wouldn't be as hard to be OK with that choice if society gave the same respect to the stay-at-home mom role as some careers.

  9. You put it into words very well. I never once dreamed (EVER!) that I would be a SAHM nor a homeschooling one at that. But every time I examine my options, this is the one I continually come back to. Just remember that this is just a brief season - even if sometimes it doesn't feel that way. ;-) My oldest is now 12 & my youngest is almost 5. Some days I wish I could just make them stay little forever. Of course, there are also days when I wish they were grown & gone & it was QUIET around here. ;-)

  10. very well said! i was a software engineer and then i had kids and had to choose. i didn't feel like i could do 60+ hours per week at a job AND be the mom that I wanted to be! now, i am glad that i made the choice to be a SAHM but sometimes i miss the goals, the recognition, the challenges (not that i don't have challenges, but the work challenges were usually met by a couple of long days at the office...now i have to wait 18+ years to see if i have been successful at raising a portion of humanity!)... anyway, you said this very well...and well our goals and plans change. now i am trying again to decide what i want to be when "i grow up". my weight loss has made me realize that i don't want to ever go back to a sedentary job...so now i am thinking about a masters program. oh the decisions...

    well, now i gotta go use my engineering degree to change a diaper and get my 16 month old and 4yr old to nap at the same time... NOW THAT IS A GOAL!

  11. A big big hug to you! Isn't it nice to know you aren't alone. I made the same choice you made. I've cried that cry a few times recently. I've cried that cry while rocking my little girl knowing that there was never ever another choice for me. No matter how many times in my life before my children that I craved the fast life on the fast track I would have never chose that over them(I always knew I would have children, just maybe not so many,ha).And if I had it would have lasted all but a minute before I looked into those big brown puppy dog eyes(x4) with a heart full of unconditional love and gratitude in which sometimes I forget I have to look a bit deeper for, yet it is indeed there. You don't get that from a profession. All the same, I'm with you. Each and every mommy makes their own personal decision for what is best for them and their family. Sometimes those decisions change too.But I would never pass judgment. Parenthood Is kind of a thankless job at times. We get paid with the most beautiful smiles and the sweetest(juiciest) kisses on Earth instead of a fat paycheck. what could possibly compare to that???

  12. While reading your post I wanted to say so many things to you, but then you started to answer your own questions and I saw that you are ok. You are wise and you see that bringing up two lovely well balanced kids and focusing on your marriage is not just "anything". It is something special and you stand by your choice! Good for you!
    It may be hard at times, but which lifestyle isn´t?

  13. Oh, Christie. Those are tough feelings to deal with. My situation was a bit different, but I can share it and hope it helps a little.

    What I found is that the choice of SAHM vs. career is not a forever type of choice. When your kids are in school, you may feel drawn back into the career world and have a good opportunity open up. Maybe not in your original field, but perhaps in a different yet still gratifying one. (And you've got two very well-placed connections.)

    I was home with the kids for four years. It was an easy choice for me: although I was very career-centric in my 20s, by the time my first baby was born I'd been in my career for 10 years and was ready for a break from it. I'd waited a long time to have my baby, too. I loved being home with the kids, although after four years I was starting to feel the first stirrings of career restlessness: what would I do after the kids got back to school? Did I still want to be in technical writing?

    An unexpected opportunity came up a few years ago for a contract-to-perm tech writing job. (By way of another mom I met at the park!) For a few months, my husband and I were both working. That was *really* hard.
    Our kids were 4 years and 17 months. It was a lot of really long days for all of us. And oh, the dreaded daycare drop off! They eventually got used to the routine, but I spent a lot of my lunch hours in the car with my face planted in a tissue box. At the end of that time, I got the job, and my husband got to take a turn with the kids. (Like Natalie, he was the 60+ hours/week software engineer with a gnarly commute and ever-more-stressful work environment. He was happy to be out for awhile, too.)

    While I still often miss being home with the kids--usually for fun stuff like preschool field trips and playgroups--our situation is working out pretty well.

  14. As a "career woman" I often think I would be WAY better off raising my own kids as opposed to other people's but life didn't quite work out that way. I love kids, but never ended up a mom. Is that bad or good? Truthfully, I don't really know but at one point in my life it was definitely better not to bring a child in this world if I was not capable of being a fit parent. I feel fortunate that I do get to work with kids as my career since I do not have any. Don't get me wrong, I love making money and I am truly a "hustler" when it comes to my career. All I can say is you never know where life is going to take you. I was also a journalism major and did a lot of work in the entertainment industry before teaching. Getting clean and making my living hanging out in a club did not seem to be a good combination. I switched gears and have moved up the pay scale as well as received multiple opportunites to learn from the brightest and the best scholars in the country. I am actually shopping graduate school fellowships now and am hopefully going to move ahead in my career again.

    It funny,even thought we have very different lives, I so related to your post. We are both happy with the choices we have made as a priority (motherhood or career,) but we both wonder about what "it could have been." I think that is normal. I guess sometimes the grass always looks greener! Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the life I have built but can't help but wonder what life would be like if I had made some different choices. Maybe when your kids grow up you and your husband will be covering natural disasters in an exotic location and you will be the primary breadwinner! Ya never know! I may end up adopting a kid or something. I guess its good if I am open to all of life's possibilites.

  15. I think most of us who have gone from career woman to career mom all go through this at some point. The way you share about it is perfect, though. It is a struggle, even though I wouldn't go back and change the choice I made to stay home either. I love being home with my family - it's a privilege that I can't ignore! But as an engineer turned stay-at-home-mom I definitely have had my moments asking myself what I'm missing, where I might be now, and WHO I would be if I hadn't changed directions when I did. Thanks for sharing!!

  16. My roommate for over 4 years was and still is in TV news. It seems like such a young person, no life, no responsiblity type of life style. Now, that she has kids, she struggles everyday.

  17. two words: nancy pelosi
    there is life after being a sahm. we aint seen nothin' yet!

  18. In an absolute heartbeat, I would choose the path you chose. Not saying I wouldn't stop to wonder, stop to cry in a parking lot at 9PM (I do that sometimes, too, even in different circumstances), but I know for certain that staying at home with babies would be for me. I've deleted my opinionated rant that was here, and I'll just replace it by saying: I'm proud of moms like you who are willing to raise their own children and to make whatever sacrifices in order to make it happen. In my heart, that's worth more than a fancy title and a big paycheck. Once the kids are a little older, there is also nothing to stop you from pursuing avenues you probably never even considered pre-blessed-with-children. I also think it's normal to ponder. Sometimes while crying.

  19. Choices, choices, choices. Aren't you glad we have them?

    They probably look at your life and think, that's what I want. And at times you might look at theirs and think the same but, really? Would you? probably not.

    This whole subject is huge and it's so hard to find balance, it's nice to know you have found a good one in your life.


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