Like many little girls, I eagerly anticipated becoming a mom when I “grew up.” I never doubted I wanted to be a mom and vividly remember talking to my best friend before our senior year of high school about our long-term goals. As we laughed and dreamed about our lives beyond high school, which seemed so far away then, I shared with her how I imagined eventually having a baby. I envisioned staying home full-time, just like my mom did. At that point in my life, I did not realize what a privilege it was to both have a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) when I was young, and to assume I would be one.
Fast forward twelve years, six of those years being married, my husband and I decided we were ready to try to get pregnant. I spent hours daydreaming about what my life would look like as a mom. As the timing worked out, I left my full-time job two weeks before my daughter was born and didn’t have a choice about maternity leave because we were moving out-of-state.
I thought I would be perfectly content staying at home at least until my daughter was school aged and expected my longing to be back at work to subside once I adjusted to being a mom. I remember crying during a late night pumping session and thinking, ‘My job working with adolescents in residential drug treatment was easier than this.’ I knew some of my initial desire to return to work was normal and thought I could put working outside the home on the back burner until my daughter was older.
As the months passed and my daughter grew more interactive, I enjoyed being home with her full-time more. Yet, there was still a part of me that longed for my identity as a social worker to be utilized. It did not matter how many activities we did that facilitated time with other adults throughout the week, that part of me was still there.
After six months of living in Indiana, and my passion and interest as a clinical social worker as strong as ever, I decided to transfer my professional license, so that I would have the option to return to work. It seemed that working part-time would be perfect. It would give me time to utilize my education and passion, yet also plenty of time to be at home with my daughter.
Right around 14 months after becoming a SAHM, I re-entered the working world, part-time. I am only a few weeks in, and the night before I left my daughter with her new babysitter for the first time, I shed all of the tears and wondered if I was doing the right thing for us. Fortunately, we both had great first days, and it seems my part-time schedule will be a wonderful fit for us in this season. I recognize I am incredibly privileged to even have a choice whether or not to work, and I think that makes me even more grateful for my current schedule.