In the president’s address to congress last month he cited that more than 1 in 5 people in their prime working years are not working. At the age of 40 I have become part of that statistic.
Perhaps unlike me, the majority of unemployed, eligible workers didn’t have a choice. Yet I argue that many moms don’t either. I struggled with my decision, discussed it repeatedly with my husband and friends as well as with a financial advisor, but with a toddler and infant at home, aging parents who had served as childcare and cost prohibitive daycare options in my area, becoming a stay-at-home mom seemed like the only option.
My three year old presented challenges of his own – yes, it’s the age, but it has become more complicated than a prolonged bout of the terrible twos.
While it seemed completely manageable to return to work after my first child’s birth, having two was a game changer. Any free time had to be divvied up between 2 children instead of devoted solely to one, and the different stages demanded individualized attention.
There’s the self-imposed guilt I feel because women before me paved the way and said we could have it all. Perhaps like Anne-Marie Slaughter suggests, until men have the same responsibilities and expectations at home as women we can’t have it all. There needs to be equality, but in my short experience as new mom, career woman and wife, I don’t see it as reality yet.
When the kids are sick or irritable, they want mom. My daughter refused a bottle for the first year of her life, requiring that I feed her exclusively until she finally and begrudgingly took a sippy cup.
The submission of my resignation left me feeling anxious and lost. Now what? Since babysitting at the age of 11 I always have had a means of income and sense of independence.
Who am I now? Am I cut out for this full-time mommy thing? My kids have mastered the art of manipulation so I embark upon full-time stay-at-home-mom status with trepidation and fear.