Staying at Home v. Staying the Course

The two best reasons to nearly never leave the house

When I first decided to stay home with Lucas, the choice was an easy one. The job I was leaving behind was that of a lower-level retail manager. The pay was mediocre, the hours unpredictable and my potential for advancement nearly tapped out. It was a college job, and I had finally graduated. My resignation from this branch of the workforce was a decision I knew I wouldn't regret.

But when I came across this article about a woman who regrets being a stay-at-home mom, it still struck a chord with me. The author of the article had left her career to be a stay-at-home mother to her three boys. She enjoyed it. She threw herself all in. And twenty years later when it was time to re-enter the "real world," she realized what a regrettable decision it was. Not the time spent raising her babies, but the time not spent working. There is a part of her that wishes she had stayed the course in her career, even if only a little bit, because in hindsight she lost herself to the stay-at-home lifestyle.

...In the years that I was home, I lulled myself into thinking that I was accomplishing enough because I was. I was raising my children and as any parent who had spent a day with a child knows, that can fill all of the hours in a day. What I hadn't realized was how my constant focus on my family would result in my aspirations for myself slipping away.

When I read those words, I immediately went back to this post I had written not too terribly long ago about my own aspirations in life and how I was putting them on hold to be a stay-at-home mom. Because this motherhood thing does fill all the hours of the day, so why can't it be enough? Why can't I live that 1950's lifestyle and just be happy right here and now? Why shouldn't I put my dreams on hold for a little while?

Because I ought to know better than to put all my eggs in a nest that will soon be empty. Because someday, this lifestyle is not going to be enough. And someday before that, those dreams are going to lose their fire in the midst of motherhood.

I'm at the very beginning of trying to make a life for myself out of freelance writing. It's tough and frustrating and requires so much work on top of taking care of my family. I feel like I'm scraping at all ends to put together the hours of a part-time job to devote to writing. Some days I feel like everything I produce in those few hours is a waste and some days I really, really want to give up. I want to go back to my old words and say being a mother is enough.

No one would judge me. No one would blame me. No one would tell me I was wrong. Raising little humans is hard work. Anyone who has been a parent, or witnessed parenting knows that is true. I'm never going to look at a stay-at-home mother and think she has an easy life. I'm not going to tell her to get off her ass and put more on her plate. So why can't I do the same for myself?

Because I know, in my heart, I'd be doing myself a disservice. I know that letting my whole self be defined by motherhood isn't good enough for me, not now and certainly not in the years ahead of me. If I want to be a writer, I need to work towards being a writer. Not twenty years from now, when life is easy and money is good (I hope), but now. Right now.

Life isn't going to wait around for me to catch up. My dreams can't be idle afterthoughts if I want them to come true. I need to work for those aspirations, even when it's hard and the kids are screaming and I feel like I'll never know sleep again. I need to work because of those things.

I refuse to let myself use motherhood as an excuse for not being the person I know I should be. If anything, it should be the reason I aspire to greatness. To someday show my children a life I have lived without regret. To show them dreams I have accomplished with them by my side.

So I choose to stay at home and stay the course. To hold my babes in both arms and my pen in my teeth if I have to. Because this is who I want to be, for me and for them.

I wouldn't have it any other way.