My husband and I have had a very unconventional professional life but it didn’t start out that way. When we met, we both lived in New York City, we both worked for Investor Relations firms (different ones), typical nine to five jobs, the kind where you had to be at your desk at a certain time each day and were expected to work until a certain time each evening. This all changed one month after we were married when we made the huge decision to leave Manhattan for Columbia South Caroline where we bought a small franchise we would own and operate. We officially became entrepreneurs. Fast forward eleven years, we have since sold that company, bought and sold a second franchise and added two dogs and three children to our household.
We never explicitly had the conversation about me staying home with our children, in part because when we started having kids, I worked for the business we owned together so I was able to scale up or down my responsibilities simply by having a conversation with my husband about it. We are currently looking for the next business or job, my husband thinking he might go back to traditional employment for a while, so the conversation came up just the other night.
“Do you want to stay home with the kids?”
The question actually kind of surprised me. I thought it was quite obvious but when I paused to think about it, I realized we hadn’t actually talked about it in quite some time. My answer without having to contemplate was Yes. There is no job I would rather do at this point in time. Even though this is my choice and I feel incredibly privileged we are able to make this choice financially, it can be difficult at times. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit there are times I miss working on projects that stimulate a different side of my brain. My five year old is fast reaching the ability to have a wildly intelligent conversation with me which scares me a lot… but I digress, for the most part my days are filled with answering questions like “are fairies real?” And “how do you make the color purple” or “what sound does a tiger make”. These are incredibly important questions for developing minds but I’m often left with a yearning for more mature and complicated topics.
It’s interesting the feelings that inadvertently come up when someone asks what I do. When I answer that I stay at home with my three children, there is a sheepishness that I feel and I know I shouldn’t, but it’s unavoidable. I am admittedly a little bit envious of the Moms who do it all. Who can balance a career and being a Mom. I believe it’s a wonderful example for your children that women too can work hard, be successful and have amazing careers. There’s no doubt that what I’m doing is also wildly important. I know that working Moms probably also feel a host of emotions when answering the same question about what they do. Our society passes judgement either way. You are either giving up your professional ambitions by staying home or you are spending far too much time away from your children if you go to work. As Moms, sometimes we can’t win in the face of societal expectations.
I think the point at the end of the day is no matter what your choice or obligation or necessity is in work or stay at home, we are all created equal in the role of being a Mother. It is the most important, wonderful, crushingly difficult and incredibly fulfilling job in the world.