Screw the ‘midlife’ crisis – I’m pretty damn sure that I entered the just-turned-30-who-even-am-I-anymore-crisis somewhere around the first of the year. Admittedly, I’ve suffered from some pretty severe anxiety and depression for a fair portion of my life, and I’ve definitely had a weird year – a new baby, a major medical issue, a big move, house selling, house buying, and house renovations are some pretty big things to happen within just a couple of months’ time. The heavy-hitter for me, however, and the one to kick my anxiety into 24/7 overdrive despite treatment, has been one that I never imagined I would ever see.
I quit my job and became a stay-at-home-mom.
For someone who tied almost her entire identity up into her career, has never not had a job, and was never really sure she wanted to have kids until she actually found herself pregnant, this is pretty much the walls of life crumbling down.
I had planned on taking twelve weeks of maternity leave following my second daughter’s birth in December and then returning to my marketing job despite the long commute, longer hours and the high costs of benefits, higher cost of daycare eating away most of my time and all of my salary. That big move, however, took us back to my small Indiana hometown for my husband’s job – much too far to commute and continue on in my own job. With so many changes that come with a move like that, not to mention the fact that I had a brand new baby, and our four-year-old’s life had just pretty much been turned upside down, it was deemed a have-to rather than a want-to that I take some extra time at home to get our family life back in order before I looked for a new job.
So, here I am. As of yesterday, I’ve been home for exactly five-months and officially a stay-at-home-mom for about 3.5 months. And I have absolutely no idea who I am right now.
Please don’t misunderstand me – I love having this time with my girls. I really truly do. I know it’s precious time that I’ll never get back, and I try to cherish each day (even if it’s just a few minutes each day). But damn. This is hard.
At first, I had to just get used to being out in the middle of pretty much nowhere. The city had spoiled me with all of its conveniences. And the baby was so new that it was like I was still on maternity leave. Then my go-back-to-work date of March 15th came and went, and I found myself starting to long for the days of professional clothes and a reason to do my hair and makeup and of the office camaraderie that that I had with my coworkers – lunches and laughs over our cubicle walls and just some time with other adults. Instead of walking into an office in a pair of heels with my mug of hot coffee in hand every morning, I was tripping down the steps in a pair of worn out slippers with a kid on each hip just to microwave and re-microwave the coffee that I had let grow cold while I wiped butts and breastfed and fought with the four-year-old over what was acceptable breakfast food.
This is not the picture that I had ever envisioned for my life.
Since our move, I have slowly worked on starting my own business – a little bit to supplement a mere fraction of the income I lost with our move, a little bit to keep my design skills from growing stale, but mostly because my identity has been so tied up in my career for so long that I need to do some sort of work to feel even a little bit like me. To feel like I have a voice that’s being heard.
Being at home with my girls all day long and trying to do a little work every day, too, has been completely trying. I have really bad days where I feel completely isolated and want nothing more than to drop them both off at our old daycare center and go back to my old job and be the person I was before I became a stay-at-home-mom. And then I have days that are the complete opposite. I want to scrap my business and any ideas of going back to an office job and stay at home with these little people forever without ever even sending them off to kindergarten.
I think we sometimes feel lost in our motherhood. Who are we outside of mothers? I’ve tried so hard to not lose myself to my motherhood – to keep my own interests and hobbies and my career – that now I don’t know who I am as a mom and who I am without my job. Maybe I’ll figure it out soon, and I’ll be able to enjoy this mom-life without worrying about the fact that I don’t have an out-of-the-home job to go to every morning and a weekly paycheck to contribute to the family budget. Maybe I’ll stop feeling so isolated and alone without the non-mom work and office life. But right now, as hard as it is to admit, I’m struggling and I can only hope with time that I’ll figure it all out and not be waging this internal war with myself anymore.