Even back when I spent my days catching lizards and building forts in my backyard I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine when I grew up. I was that kid who daydreamed about my future and looked forward to going to college and graduate school. Now that I’m older I wonder what I was thinking. I should’ve savored being in the moment when there are less responsibilities and life isn’t as complicated. I guess you live and learn and now that I have kids I want time to slow down so that they stay little for as long as possible.
I’ve always been a very driven individual and I couldn’t wait to start my career. My mom “retired” from her job as a teacher when I was born and I remember wondering why on earth would she choose to stay at home instead of working. Why didn’t she want to continue on in her career? Who would want to do laundry or clean all day when there are so many great job opportunities out there? Seriously, I thought she must get bored being at home all day. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I even questioned why she spent four years of her life attending college if her goal all along was to stay at home with her kids. Being a stay-at-home mom was not even going to be an option for me, as I worked hard to complete college and on top of that spent three challenging years earning my graduate degree in nursing from Yale University. After all that time spent in school I’d be crazy to walk away from my career and paycheck.
When I became pregnant with my son I had no intention of quitting my job. As a matter of fact, my husband and I toured a fancy childcare center near our house and we even had our names on the waiting list to hold a space for our baby once he was born. Whenever I was asked about my plans regarding my job I didn’t hesitate to say that I would be returning to work after my maternity leave. In my head I was going to resume my career as a nurse practitioner and life would go on. Or so I thought.
It’s funny how much my mindset changed as my pregnancy progressed. I went from thinking there was no way I’d stay at home once my son was born to thinking there was no way I’d want to do anything but stay at home. Thankfully my husband was supportive of my new desire to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. My heart completely changed and in my mind I realized that the pros of staying home outweighed the cons. Ultimately, it was a decision that I wrestled with for some time, and I’m not going to lie, there have been times where I wonder if others think less of me because I walked away from my career. It was scary for me to make such a big transition, but I honestly haven’t looked back. Sure, I know that some of my colleagues didn’t agree with my decision and I even was unfriended by one on Facebook. It took some time, but I finally came to the realization that my self-worth and identity are not going to be found in my career and that I am not defined by the letters behind my name. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely proud of all that I’ve accomplished, but once I laid eyes on my son I knew without a doubt that I had made the right decision for me.
Ultimately, I did what was best for my family and our unique situation. I believe that sometimes we worry too much about how others perceive us or about what society tells us is the right thing to do. I urge all working moms-to-be to make your decision about staying at home versus continuing on with your career without worrying about the opinion of others. Sure, ask family and friends for advice, but in the end I encourage you to do what’s going to work for you and your family. You know best and you shouldn’t let others sway you. We all have different home situations and we shouldn’t rush to judge others who may choose to do things differently. Some moms want to continue their careers outside of the home after having kids, while others choose to stay at home. I have friends who work full-time outside of their homes and they are wonderful mamas. With all of the technology that is currently available there are even some careers that allow moms to work from home. The bottom line is that neither choice is wrong. In my opinion, as long as moms strive to do their best to raise their kids in a stable and loving home there really is no room to question them.
Now I look back and think I was a total idiot for believing that my mom had an easy job. She made a lot of sacrifices for my family that I didn’t even realize until I was quite a bit older. I’ve learned through my own experience that she had one of the toughest jobs out there because keeping a household full of little ones in order is no simple task. I must admit that staying at home with my kids is the most challenging, yet rewarding thing that I’ve ever done. I often joke with my husband that attending Yale was easier than being a mom! Sure, there are days where it seems that time moves at a snail’s pace and things don’t go as planned, but I wouldn’t trade my new job for the world. Being able to witness my baby’s first smile or steps is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. I am looking forward to attending little league games and volunteering in my kids’ classrooms. I also enjoy the freedom of being able to travel to visit my family in Oregon throughout the year. Due to the nature of my job as a nurse practitioner, these are just a couple of things that would be difficult to do had I continued working at the hospital. I’m thankful that I can stay at home with my kids and I cherish every moment that I have with them.
This post originally appeared at Our Lucas Life.