I have been a stay-at-home mom now for 8 years. Prior to this I was a career woman. I got my first job when I was a junior in high school and, except for a brief 4 month period in college, have always had a job. I worked very hard in high school. College was a different story. My first few years were hit or miss…mostly miss. I was exploring my freedom during that period. However, after being put on academic probation at a 4-year insititution, I got my act together. I worked my way through college paying for books, tuition, etc. After the third year it occurred to me that since I (and my husband…we got married after my junior year in college) were paying for this, it would be stupid not to get our money’s worth.
After college I found a job and moved into consulting in the marketing research industry. My first client was Procter and Gamble. I learned early on the value of hard work; the value of stepping in and doing a job that nobody else wanted to do. I think because I wasn’t a naturally ‘high IQ’ person, I grew to quickly understand that I could compensate for any lack of knowledge by hard work. I loved the validation this kind of work gave me. I slugged it out and slowly moved up the corporate ladder.
I was diagnosed with MS and found myself pregnant three months later. After my son’s birth & due to a demanding job, I became terribly afraid of missing out on my son’s life. To that end, I discussed with my husband quitting and we financially set ourselves up to be a single income family. In truth, I was only too happy quit. Consulting can be a tough business. There’s always somebody out there that wants your client and you’ve got to be willing to go further and do more than anybody else while still maintaining your reputation. A tough dichotomy.
I don’t know how to describe the first few months after I left. Elated that I was home with my son but awkward because, in an odd way, I didn’t really know who I was any longer. For several years after leaving, when people would ask me what I did, I would always tell them I used to be a consultant. It just seemed like if I were to say that I was a stay-at-home mom then I wasn’t very important. I would like to say that I quickly stepped into the role of mommy-homemaker. That would be a lie. I loved, loved being a mom and wife but I didn’t know how to be a person. It was like my identity had been stolen.
I have been in situations where family or friends are introducing people in the room along with what they do or where they got their graduate degree from and when they get to me…I politely state my name and we move on to the next person. I cannot find accurate words to tell you how pathetic that used to make me feel.
Only in recent years have I come to see how radical my life currently is. I used to think that my being a stay-at-home mom made my family’s life a little more “convenient.” I also used to think that I was a coward for not sticking it out in Corporate America. That I should have pushed my body a little bit harder. The truth is, the work I do at home has afforded me a depth of relationship with my son and husband that I would’ve never known by any other means. There are no promotions in my present line of work. There is no Sr., Jr., or VP anywhere in my name…for that matter, I don’t have a title. I don’t attend any lunch-and-learns…unless you count meeting my son in the school cafeteria for a PB&J. I have an undergrad… but beyond that there are no other “shingles” I hang on my wall. Instead my fridge is covered in pictures my son has drawn, school lunch calendar, homework schedule, my husband’s travel schedule, etc.
Although I have no desire to rejoin Corporate America, I struggle with feeling like “less” of a person for not working outside of the home. However, something inside keeps whispering that’s not true. That what I do is an important piece of the bedrock in my family’s foundation. In the gentlest of ways, my Lord reminds me that, although I felt my identity crumble away when I was diagnosed and left the professional world, I am being restored to what He intended for me all along. My awkwardness is changing & becoming His rhythm. His rhythm is becoming His completeness in me. My identity is becoming grace.