I did it two days before Christmas. I couldn’t stop sweating as I made the phone call. My voice had this weird shrilly pitch that comes out when I’m nervous. When I said the words, I started laughing. Thinking back on it, I probably sounded like I’d had a few too many mimosas that morning. But really it doesn’t matter how idiotic or drunk I sounded because I was calling to QUIT.
I put that phone call off as long as I could because it really freaked me out to just STOP WORKING, when I have worked since I was 14 years old. I went to college, I worked my ass off, I was making good money, and then … I had kids. And what I thought I wanted didn’t matter anymore.
Suddenly I wanted to pour my entire self into motherhood. As much as I enjoyed working – the friends, the freedom, the extra money, the childless lunches, and having a reason to get out of my pajamas every day – I felt amiss. My heart hurt. Because I knew every day, down deep in my soul, that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
The mommy world is a vicious one. You are judged at every turn, and people feel the need to validate their own life choices by criticizing yours. When I first voiced my desire to one day be a stay-at-home mom, some of my co-workers (also moms) downright chastised me for even considering it. I heard everything from “women who stay home with their children are dumb!” to “OMG I could NEVER stay home with my kids! You would HATE it!” or my favorite, “Your husband will have total control over the finances!”
I also got all the typical lines about how daycare helps kids learn social skills, and by removing my children from daycare I am somehow stunting their social development. If anyone reading this feels that way, I am sorry to offend you, but that is a load of crap. There are many benefits to daycare, don’t misunderstand me. I just take issue with people thinking that kids who aren’t in daycare are going to fall behind developmentally, or that their dumb mothers are somehow incapable of teaching them basic social skills. I mean, I’m sure there are a lot of dumb mothers out there. But this bitch ain’t one. So back off.
People also assume a lot of things when you decide to become a one-income family. Like you won the lottery. Or you inherited a sum of money. We did not. Slicing our income in half was by no means an easy decision, and I am certain there are many people in my life, like my husband, who think I am an insane idiot for leaving my job in order to spend the day in our tiny house with two little boys. It’s okay for them to question my sanity. Staying home with kids is certainly not for everyone.
I knew that quitting my job would mean an end to Starbucks and hair salons and possibly even personal hygiene. Even still, I traded my high heels for God-awful tennis shoes that make my stubby legs look even stubbier. My days are now filled with poop, pee, high-pitched screeches, PBS Kids, endless housework, and more poop. I’m no longer a “working” mommy, but I’m working harder than I ever have in my life. If you don’t believe me, why don’t you drop by? I may or may not come to the door, but if you peer through the window you will see what I mean. I’ll just leave it at that.
Motherhood. I love it, I hate it, I am humbled by it, I am crushed by it, I am in awe of it, I am IN it. Full on. My life is simple, but I’m doing what my soul directs me to do. That is happiness, people.
If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.
⁃ Jackie Kennedy
Harmony blew into Birmingham after Hurricane Katrina and recently quit her job to stay at home with her two boys. Her sanity is in question. Visit her blog at www.modernmommymadness.com.