I want to start out by saying this is not a pity post. I know the headline might seem like it is, but it’s not. Keep reading, and you’ll get it.
When you’ve spent almost 30 years of your life focused on academic, career and extracurricular achievements, making the transition to being a stay-at-home-mom can seem like a real bore.
I’ve always been a high-achieving person, and I don’t feel like I’m bragging when I say that. It’s just part of my personality. It’s weird because I can’t pinpoint either of my parents ever pushing me or telling me that I had to be the best at everything or they wouldn’t love me. Nothing like that. It was just this unspoken expectation that somehow gave me confidence that I’d succeed in life. (If I ever figure out how they did it, I’ll write a book and make millions.)
From the ages of 8-18, I spent my free time showing Arabian horses on a local, regional, and national level – and winning. After high school, I scored a 33 on my ACT and got a full ride to the University of Oklahoma. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and got a medal from President David Boren for having achieved straight A’s. I had almost a dozen internships during college, landed my first job the month after I graduated, and stayed there for almost 10 years.
What’s funny and ironic about that job are the bookends to my career. After a few months on the job, I had a “year-end review” with my boss, who told me, “I just don’t think you ‘get it.'” And he wasn’t wrong; I was clueless. Talk about a blow to my eager “just-out-of-college-and-I’m-hot-stuff” attitude.
But, you know what, I figured “it” out. And at one point in that career, I was managing a staff of three full-time employees, one intern, and 15 clients. I had happy employees, happy clients, and was making a profit for the agency. Boom.
When I got pregnant with my first child, I just assumed I’d have the baby, take maternity leave, and then go back to work. I had NO plans to leave the career I’d built for myself. I loved my job. I loved my co-workers.
But you know what? I loved my baby more. And when I finally admitted that I wanted to stay home, and my husband and my mother said “do it,” the tears of relief and happiness flowed.
It was a struggle to leave, because I worried about the judgment of others. But when I finally told my boss, my co-workers, my friends, nobody questioned me. I had 100% support in making that decision.
And you know what my boss said…that I’ve been one of his most valuable team members, because I just “get it.” Now, that gave me chills.
A little over two years later, I’m pregnant again, and the anniversary of me starting and leaving that job has just recently passed. So, you could say I’m feeling nostalgic (and admittedly a bit hormonal).
I do miss feeling important in a certain way. Feeling like I’m achieving and being recognized for it on a larger scale outside of my living room.
The friends I have now don’t really know “pre-mom me” beyond the random stories I sometimes tell (when we aren’t talking nonstop about our kids, of course).
And my old friends from work don’t know “mom me” beyond the random stories I tell about my son, Alden (when I crash happy hour and feel like a third wheel).
It’s hard to keep a foot in each world without feeling divided, but I’m doing my best.
Alden has yet to give me a round of applause for the pancakes I make from scratch. I haven’t been promoted in years. The paycheck from my part-time side hustles is definitely not as impressive.
There are no trophies in motherhood beyond the ones I give myself at the end of the day, when we’ve made it through, and I’ve kissed my sweet boy goodnight.
And when he rushes into our room in the morning saying “missed mama” and “I need mama,” I know I’m important to him. And that’s what matters right now.