Giving up my career was the hardest and best decision of my life

I never thought I’d be a stay-at-home Mom. Like never. I’ve been working since I was about 15. I got my first internship as an ice skating coach apprentice and then I coached for a several years after that. Simultaneously, I worked summers at my Dad’s former company, and I had a few internships throughout college and before law school. I’ve always been on a career track with a career mindset. That in part has a lot to do with my mother who was never provided the opportunities I was provided. She encouraged me to pursue a career, and I did. I became an attorney, and I always thought this is what I am suppose to be doing. I’m a career woman, and everything else will be secondary.

Having kids and marriage were always something I wanted, but I always thought they would exist in parallel to my career, never subordinate. As a millennial, especially a millennial woman, you’re basically groomed to accept that as a given fact. Look at all those women that have broken through the glass ceiling before us and paved our way! (Thanks by the way.) Women are encouraged to become just like men, career minded and ambitious. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t actually prepare you for the reality of life or the potential consequences of that decision.

When I got pregnant, I knew I’d return to work after the birth. I planned to work part-time and then eventually go back to full as I became acclimated to my new life as a new working mom. But, something changed when I had my daughter. I liked being a mom more, and I was dreading going back to work. I liked my job. I liked the people I worked for and with, and practicing law was a stimulating and lucrative career. But, I wasn’t happy when I returned to work. My mind was never really fully there. I was always thinking about my daughter, and wondering whether she was doing something new that I was missing out on. I worried about her being raised by someone else (her nanny), and I felt guilty, so guilty about being away. The old me was starting to fade. But, the atmosphere that helped foster by mindset to focus on career was still as ominous as ever. It was hard to come to terms with abandoning the career-woman mindset, and giving it up to accept tradition: the mother at home with the husband bread winner.

I remember when I quit my job, I actually walked into my boss’s office and said, “I can’t believe I’m doing this but…”. I couldn’t will myself to get full time hours at that point. Eventually, I had to be honest with my boss, who was extremely accommodating and understanding about my transition back to work. He was basically letting me make my own hours until I felt comfortable enough to be full time again. I’ll always appreciate that kindness. The reason it took me so long to leave (almost 4 months) was because I felt guilty about quitting my job. I felt guilty about abandoning a career, and “just” being a mom. My husband was very supportive through my entire mental struggle. He encouraged me to do what I really wanted, not what society has dictated on women for the last 30 or so years.

There is a reason that survey after survey say the happiest women are the ones at home with their kid(s). I never really believed it until I became one. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss my old life and career or that there are plenty of happy moms that work too (there is plenty of data that supports this notion too). But, leaving a career for the home can be just as fulfilling or even more so. Now that I’m where I’m at, I wouldn’t give up what I have now for what I had. The grass is actually greener over here, at least for me and for now.

I also recognize I’m fortunate enough to be at home. There has definitely been a financial adjustment. But, it’s been worth it. Eventually, I think I’ll go back to the working world. But, for now, I’m satisfied with just being a mom. So if you are considering a transition to only mom-hood and you’re capable of doing it, I encourage you to do it. You’re world won’t crumble, you’re not letting down the female sex, and your life will feel just as fulfilled as it probably was when you were childless and career focused (it might actually feel better, a lot better).

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