About a month ago, I ran into a college classmate who I hadn’t seen since our 2003 graduation. We chatted for a while about random things before the topic of our careers came up. When I told him that I am a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM, aka domesticator), he started laughing and said, I can’t believe that the girl who used to tutor math to all of us is now a housewife.
I know he didn’t mean to be condescending or hurtful with his comment, but I immediately felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that my life consisted of raising my children, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry and not business attire and corporate events.
Then I was angry. Angry with myself for being embarrassed with the career choice I have made.
But to be honest, if you would have asked me ten, even five years ago if I ever imagined I’d be a SAHM, I would have had the same reaction he did. Truth be told, for most of my life, I had ZERO aspiration to be a housewife. From as far back as I can remember, I had visions of becoming a successful, powerful NYC businesswoman.
These career visions carried me through my four years at an all-girls high school that was designed to prepare us for college, four years at West Point and then my six years in the Army. When I left the Army, I was anxious to begin the new stage of my life – a life that I was certain would involve designer labels, an expensive car, fancy dinners, foreign travel, and a beautiful apartment in NYC.
Soon after leaving the Army, I had the life I had imagined. I was President of a small business with an office on 6th Avenue – a bird’s eye view from the Empire State Building.
My sister and I shared a spacious apartment on the Upper West Side – only two blocks from one of my favorite places in the world – Central Park. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I started traveling the world – in just nine months, we went to Italy, Jamaica, Alaska, Mexico, and Malta.
It seemed like everything was falling into place.
I found out I was (unexpectedly) pregnant with our first child in May 2010. During my whole pregnancy, my plan was to take some time off and return to work when my son was a few months old. Although I was excited about becoming a mom, I didn’t have any intentions of being home 24/7. We would get a babysitter and cleaning woman and I would return to work.
Our son was born Jan 2011 and my whole world got turned upside down. It was amazing how quickly my priorities shifted. Everything that had mattered to me only months before now seemed superficial and pointless. And things that I couldn’t fathom doing, now brought me pleasure.
I never returned to work.
My work is now my family and my home. I know it sounds so old-fashioned. Just like all the other SAHMs out there, my days consist of cooking, cleaning, laundry, food shopping, bills, changing diapers, playing trains, coloring, crafts, and teaching my son everything from manners to colors to numbers. It may sound easy, but it’s not. It is MUCH harder than anything I have done before – going through bootcamp, deploying to Iraq, starting my own company all seem like a breeze compared to what I do now.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of me feels like my college education and real-world experiences are being wasted. I can’t exactly say that my Engineering degree is being utilized most days. And there are often times when I feel like my brain is starting to deteriorate because most of my conversations are with a 4 week and 21 month old. And, there are many times when I miss having a career, making money, and having a reason to get dressed and get out of the house each day.
But then I take a step back and think about 20, 30, 40 years down the road. Will it really matter if I had a great job? Or made a lot of money that allowed our family a little more financial freedom? (Note: I’m definitely blessed that I don’t have to work - my husband is able to support us on his salary. So my working would be extra money for us.)
What matters to me is that I am the one who they wake up to each morning, who they kiss goodnight at bedtime and who is there with them for all the hours in between.
In my opinion, I have the most important job in the world at the moment. And I’m okay with sacrificing my college education, experience, and career dreams to fulfill this job first.
**I am not going to argue that being a SAHM harder than being a working mom OR that being a SAHM is more important than having a career – for anyone other than ME. This is just my opinion and is based on my circumstances and experiences.**
Are you a domesticator? Did you always know you were going to stay at home?