How I Became an Unexpected Stay-at-Home Mom

How I became a stay-at-home momHow I became a stay-at-home momBefore kids, I always assumed I'd be a working mom. I had high career goals since I was eight years old and nothing was going to stand in my way. Of course that was before reality slapped me across the face and reminded me that I'm not in complete control. It's funny to me when I think back because my perspective and priorities have changed so much.

I've always wanted children and it was tough emotionally trying to conceive for three years. With each step forward in life, my views changed as they often do as we grow up. When we finally got pregnant it was still assumed that I would return to work after my maternity leave.

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I became a pregnancy book junkie. I became concerned with birth choices, the state of maternity leave and discovering my parenting style. I tried to deflect unsolicited advice which began to assault me from all directions.

The more I bonded with my unborn daughter, the closer her due date came, I started to doubt my return to work.

It didn't help that I wasn't thrilled with my employer or their maternity leave policies. Or their lack of support for pumping moms. I started to feel guilty about leaving my baby before she was even born! My husband and I discussed the possibility of me staying home. Financially it was an extremely close call since my salary would basically go straight to childcare.

Secretly my desire to be at home grew.

Still, we toured daycare centers and put down a deposit to hold a spot for our daughter. We re-evaluated our finances and updated our budget. The plan would be to return to my job and work towards being able to afford for me to stay home. But really we were just scared to make the decision.

It was a big decision and a big change. It was a complete 180 from my career goals just a few short years ago. Would I even be able to handle staying home? I knew what I wanted deep down, but was indecisive at the same time.

As I got my work and client files in order, I also cleaned out most of my desk. I circled a date in my calendar-the last day I could give proper notice for not returning from maternity leave. It was still up in the air though. When asked, I replied that I planned on going back after my leave. but then the decision was made for me.

My department's contract wasn't renewed before I went on maternity leave and it was uncertain if it would be. About a month after my daughter was born we found out for sure that it wouldn't be renewed. My department and my job were eliminated and they didn't have a comparable position to offer me. The decision was finally made for us, though a bit abruptly.

It was a little scary, but I'm glad it turned out this way. Sometimes I wonder how different it would have been, sometimes I miss working outside the home. Five years ago I wouldn't have believed you if you told me I'd be a stay-at-home parent, but here I am and I love it.

-By Darcy Zalewski

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