Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Don't Want It All

It's with lots of hesitation that I write this post.  I don't want to be judged or thought to be taking a step back for womankind just because I, one person, feel this way.  Maybe it's due to our mothers' generation, but little girls are raised to want it all and to be able to achieve everything they want.  I definitely was told from a young age that I could be and do anything and everything I wanted (and we will impress this upon Georgia as well).  I knew that it would be possible to have a career, even a demanding one if I chose so, while nurturing my marriage and raising a houseful of children, if that's the path I wanted to take.

Somewhere between getting my degree, climbing the corporate ladder and growing a baby inside my belly, I realized that having it all was possible.  But I also realized that was definitely not the path I wanted to take.  It's a very personal choice, and I don't think one choice is necessarily better than the other.  But I know which choice is right for me.

Lately I've been asked more times than I care to count the expected question: "Are you bored/unfulfilled/unstimulated/not using your full potential/needing adult conversation/guilty for not contributing financially/etc etc etc?"  Some people I know are genuinely curious and struggling to make the same decision for their own life.  But other times, even from friends, the question comes across as very judgmental.  When that happens, I often feel flustered before I answer and I hope that doesn't make them think they are right.

But the truth is, no - I don't feel any of those things.  I've developed a couple of hobbies (happily, they don't involve the computer or internet) to keep me stimulated and keep my brain squeaking.  If I'm ever bored, it's my own fault for allowing myself to feel that way since there are always plenty of things for me to do.  Same with adult conversation.  I get more of that now than I did as a career girl, and now it's on subjects I actually want to talk about!  I've developed new friendships with other mothers I see daily at the park, and strengthened friendships I already had.

Don't get me wrong; it's not all fun and games all day long.  There are plenty of days when, at six o'clock, I know without a doubt that being in an office all day would have been the easier job.  And in the beginning I did worry that "just being a mom" would leave me wanting for more at the end of the day.  But watching Georgia catch on to something new I've taught her or discover something altogether on her own is more than enough to make my heart and brain swell with pride.  More so than anything ever has.

I also don't mind being a homemaker.  Now that I'm here and not focusing on my career, charity board obligations, and keeping tons of other people happy, our house feels so much more like a home.  Rather than a stack of invitations to be mailed and fundraiser decorations to be assembled, I'm surrounded by colorful wooden blocks and little stuffed animals.  Even with a pile of laundry beside me on the couch and a kitchen floor in desperate need of mopping, I am happier than ever.  These piles of laundry and the sounds, sights and smells of our house are what make it a home.  Now I really take pride in having a nutritious (or not so healthy, but amazingly fun) meal on the table for David.  As 1950's as it is, I don't mind doing his laundry or ironing his shirts - because he's out working so that I am able to stay home.

As much as I like a challenge,  I have absolutely no desire to juggle a family, career and marriage. If that makes me seem less of a go-getter and diminishes me in the eyes of others'...well, I'll just have to stay a lesser person to them.  I know in my heart and in my mind that I "just being a mom" fulfills and challenges me in ways that working outside the home never did.

25 comments:

Melissa said...

Thanks for this! I agree... each woman makes her own decision about what's best for her and her family. And then you make the most of the decision! I work full-time and have a nine-month old, but for me, I feel like it's always a struggle to get everything done... or at least all the things I want to get done. And those things include my hobbies, keeping up with photo books, etc. The things that don't HAVE to be done but that I WANT to be done. But I know my daughter is happy, our marriage is good and I love my job... so that helps me (sometimes) keep in perspective that I expect too much of myself!

So glad that what you're doing is exactly what you want to do. That's so important because life is so short!

Alison said...

There's so much pressure to "have it all" as women these days, but I've realized as well that and I don't need a traditional job outside the home to feel validated.

Thank you so much for writing this post. I've been struggling with this topic as well for the last year or so, and you verbalized it perfectly.

Catie said...

I appreciate you writing this!! As a woman with a doctorate in pharmacy, I know people think I am wasting my degree by staying at home and only working 10-20 hours a month. I never planned to work all the time. My family is much more important. I stay busy most of the time all day, and I never wish I was a work. I do know if I had to work, I would be able to have a good job. And when my kids are grown, I can go back to work. The media make it seem like no one stays at home anymore- but that really isn't the case. A fulfilling day for me- a happy little boy, a happy and well-fed husband, a semi-clean house, and clean clothes to wear. Nothing fancy. Just life...

Pinot after Playdates said...

So glad you shared! "It all" is so different to everyone and so subjective as well. I know everyday at 230 when my son walks through the door and climbs up on a stool at the kitchen island to tell me about his day that I am right where I'm supposed to be and that feels GREAT!

Justine said...

Thank you for this. For me to stay home we had to make some sacrifices. People always ask if the sacrifices are worth it. um yes for me they are! and I truly feel like I have it all.

Katie said...

Thanks for sharing your feelings in this post. It really resonated with me. I was working full time with a Master's Degree under my belt when I became pregnant. I always knew I wanted to be a SAHM but didn't think it'd ever be possible. We are making it work and I am living my dream with no regrets. Is everyday perfect? nope. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. I do get a lot of judgemental comments from friends, but I also know many would love to be able to stay at home with their children but can't afford to...so I think their comments stem from their own desires. What works for one, doesn't necessarily work for the other and being at home with Georgia and keeping your home WORKS for you. And I couldn't agree more with your last statement! Glad you're back, btw, I missed your posts. I'm a lurker May mama from TB :)

Muffy said...

God bless you! Being a SAHM is my dream and while I do worry it "won't be enough" I have no desire to "have it all" either. Give me a happy home life-- you can keep your good career. Glad I'm not the only one that feels this way.

LesleyEpstein said...

It's funny how things change. Before I had Nathan all I thought about was work and being successful. I always said I would never be a SAHM. Now, all I think about is being at home and I'm slowly cutting back at work. And, it's not just because of the "mommy guilt", it's actually because I enjoy it!!!!!

Natalie said...

I love this post! I don't want it all either. I am perfectly content being a "homemaker." It is much more fulfilling than any job I've ever had. In fact I don't know if I'll ever have a traditional job again. I really loathed working in an office!

clare said...

It has been my experience that mothers in general, especially those with very young children, often find themselves in a position where they have to defend their choices to either work or stay home. As time goes on it becomes very apparent that what works for one may not work for another and the most important choice you make is whats best for you and your family. I know awesome working moms and awesome SAHMs. The trick is we all have to let go of the judgement and the guilt.

D @ Naptime in Suburbia said...

I completely agree. I don't know how many times I've been asked, "what do you do all day?," and "are you going crazy yet?"

I never know how to politely explain that my days (and nights) are fuller now that I'm "not working." I give working moms all the credit in the world, but taking care of my son, husband, and home is the best job I've ever had.

naturally-mindful said...

I totally agree! Staying home with my son has not made me less of woman for not wanting to juggle work and family, I chose to raise my son and that is fulfillment, doing what I want. I'm happy, my family is happy, the financial sacrifices are nothing compared to seeing my baby happy and healthy!

Melinda said...

Well said, lady. WELL SAID.

Dollops of Diane said...

I totally agree. I have a degree and was in upper management in a large company when I decided to stay home with my children. Best.Decision.Ever.

Mrs. Pretty said...

Hear hear. This is exactly how I've felt about the decision to stay at home, though you've put it far more eloquently here than I ever could.

Anonymous said...

You took the words straight out of my mouth. I have a six month old daughter and before I became a mother I never wanted to be a SAHM. I was even one of those judgmental people who when I saw my sister-in-law quit her career after 1 and 1/2 years to become a SAHM would ask, why? After working so hard to get your degree to quit a few years later! Inconceivable! The first month of my maternity leave was hard for me and I couldnt wait to return to work but I got into a routine and got the mom thing down. All I thought about then was how I did NOT want to return. I cried the first day I did. My priorities completely changed after her arrival. I don't care about being a Controller. I care about being a SAHM. Right now it's not possible for me but it is my number 1 goal to accomplish. BTW, I also live in Houston :)

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, AMEN!!

Hair Bows and Tutus said...

Great post! Your baby girl will only be this age once. There will be time for a career again when she is older if that is what you want. I've been a SAHM for awhile now and do not regret my decision. -Heidi

Ps. You've been tagged!

Andrea said...

I love this post! And so glad you are feeling "at home" in your new chapter of life. I've been a part time SAHW since my husband and I got married 5 years ago and this has worked amazingly for us. We keep a great balance and I love all the "housewife to-do's". Now that we are expecting our first, I'm so happy to be able to stay home! Cheers to you and your family:)

Meg O. said...

What a great post! Ever since that precious baby of mine entered this world, I have thought, "How in the world is work ever going to be fulfilling anymore?"

I look forward to the day where we have the financial means for me to stay home and adopt that as my new job!

MrsMartin said...

Wow, I feel like this blog post was written by my friend and I. I was too a career driven woman and thought I would always be, I went back to work when our first daughter was born and it was awful. After 9 months and finding out we were expecting again I knew I was meant to be an at home Mom and Wife. My meaning of having it all has changed, now to me this means happy daughters who are raised by me, not a nanny or a daycare, a happy husband and marriage, and a home. I agree, we now have a home and not a house...there is such a difference. I thank God everyday for my wonderful life and don't regret my decision at all.

Leoh @ CupcakesinParis said...

Loved your post! I'm a working mother but I experienced staying at home with my baby girl during my 3-month maternity leave and it was really hard. Since then I have a real appreciation for SAHM. Raising a child is a demanding and not always rewarding job. So hats off to you, stay at home mamas! and thank you for your insightful post!

Mimi said...

Your post came at the most amazing time for me. I was somehow making my way through my second day back to work after being home for 14 weeks with my first baby a son. I am struggling BIG time with my decision to go back to work, even though my whole life I thought I'd be a Working Mom. Thank you for such a great post. I linked it to my blog as I detailed the start of my decision to stay at home.

LV said...

Very well said and powerful. Sometimes having it all, is not having it all. I agree with you about the fulfillment that comes from being a mom. It is certainly where my joy comes from.

Missy at Its Almost Naptime said...

Rock on :)

It really is the best job ever.