Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom: What I've Learned
Giving up the city and a job was a seismic shift for this mom of three
Given the proximity of my kids' ages-I had three under 18-months-old in the beginning-finding a childcare solution became equal parts impossible and expensive. Despite having grown up in the suburbs, I felt no pull to return. In my 20s I had always imagined I'd make a family in the city work. I envisioned us all hitting up museums and brunching together and looking super glam as we did. This was before I knew that my diaper bag would be the size of a suitcase.
So we headed to the burbs. I could tell you the town and state we chose, but it doesn't really matter. If I had been following a moving truck to Jersey or CA, I would have felt the same-like I was losing my identity along with my zip code.
Also overwhelming? Leaving a full-throttle career for mommy-dom. I was never gunning for the top job anywhere, but I loved my work and thrived around smart people who upped my game. But every position comes with downsides-waking up to a demanding email from a boss when you're trying to put a diaper on your baby is stressful in ways I'll never be able to fully explain.
The fact that these two life changes-a move to the burbs and early (albeit, temporary) retirement-occurred at the same time isn't groundbreaking. Lots of women have faced down this scenario. But surrounded by grass and friendly strangers saying "hello," I was out of my element. I had left all my best friends in the city and wasn't looking for replacements-at this age, I convinced myself, it was too much work to make new friends.
My new life also meant spending 24 hours a day with my three children, one of whom, was an infant nursing on demand. No more heading out the door in the morning, even as a tantrum was brewing, or asking my babysitter to empty the dishwasher and clip their nails.
My parents and sister were nearby and offering constant assistance, which was a godsend, but I was in a sleep-deprived, zombie-like state in those beginning days and weeks. Even as I told myself these were first-world problems and I had so many things to be thankful for, there were days I escaped behind a locked door and cried.
And then one late summer afternoon a few months after we moved, I was sitting on my new patio, the baby was in a swaddled slumber next to me, my two other babies were chasing each other on the lawn, my parents came over for a glass of wine and it dawned on me-so THIS is what it was all for. Family.
Quiet happiness filled me from my head to my toes. No, it wasn't the most glamorous or hip lifestyle and no I was no longer killing it in the workplace, but my little family was flourishing right before my eyes and I was lucky enough to be watching it happen.
I've since succumbed to the suburban friend-making machine and have landed myself some besties that make the long days of parenthood so much more fun than if I were doing it alone. I also started freelancing the minute I moved, to keep my head at least partially in a work state of mind.
People who know me always ask if I miss the city. Every day, I tell them, but I know what I'm giving my kids now is better than what I would have been able to give them in the city. And there are days we still even make it to brunch.