“What do you do?”
What a common question to ask someone when you meet them for the first time, right? Well, before I got married, I spent most of my time and energy studying, volunteering, and working toward becoming a lawyer.
I wanted to devote my life to my career because I grew up surrounded by strong women who did the same thing, for the most part. I always thought my mother wasn’t one of them because she chose to stay at home and care for her children.
I was the type of person that adored talking about myself. I was proud of everything I achieved and I appreciated whenever someone asked me about my accomplishments and aspirations. I didn’t shy away from talking everyone’s ears off about everything I was planning on doing with my life.
“I’m studying law,” I’d say.
“I’m working as an apprentice at a law firm.”
“I’m a lawyer.”
But things change as you grow older. Before I married my husband, I wanted nothing more than to become “someone.” I wanted my name on buildings, newspaper articles, and TV shows. I wanted to be more than a wife or a mother because I thought there was something wrong with that.
I did get married, though, and I did give birth to two beautiful children. I changed, evolved, and decided to do the same thing my mother did – leave my career, stay at home, and take care of the kids. I didn’t know what to expect, but I pulled the plug and did what I thought was right for me.
I didn’t know how to answer that question anymore, though.
“What do you do?”
I am a chef because I cook for my family every single day, multiple times a day. I am a housekeeper because I keep my house clean, neat, and sorted out.
I am a babysitter because I take care of my children when they’re home. I am a chauffeur because I drive my kids wherever they need to go. I am a nurse. I am a teacher. I am an accountant.
I want to say that, but I don’t.
I never wanted to be a mother. I don’t know what happened, when, or how, but one day I decided I wanted to have a baby of my own. Then I gave birth and decided to stay at home because I wanted to take care of her.
When I then had another baby, I thought my career was over anyways and decided to devote my time to my children. I crave going back to work, but I don’t know whether that’s something I’m going to reconsider down the road.
I want to say that, too, but I don’t.
“Nothing right now,” I stutter. “I don’t work anywhere, I’m a stay-at-home mother.”
“I wish I didn’t have to work. You must’ve married rich, good for you!” most of them respond. Now, I don’t agree with them, but I don’t want to explain myself. I don’t even know whether I’d be able to explain myself because I struggled to come to terms with being a stay-at-home mom, too.
I can’t lie – there were times when I wasn’t sure about my decisions and the way I felt about them.
I was buried under a pile of poopy diapers throughout the first few years of motherhood. I was stressed out over everything, overwhelmed, and overworked. I was dealing with my demons while others were none the wiser.
I felt as though the weight of the world collapsed on my shoulders. I was responsible for everyone and everything – my husband’s car keys, my toddler’s building blocks, and my babies’ milk (which I couldn’t even produce enough of, FYI).
I didn’t know who I was anymore and I didn’t want to burden anyone with my troubles and torments.
I mean, I thought I wasn’t going to work as hard when I decided to quit my career. I thought I was going to spend my days giggling and snuggling with my baby, going on walks, and having the time of my life. I know, I was naive. But because of that, I wasn’t prepared for the whirlwind of emotions that ensued.
It took me years (yes, years!) to come to terms with the new me. I had defined myself by my career more than I care to admit, and when I left, I didn’t know how to define myself anymore. I didn’t feel like a stay-at-home mom the same way I felt like a lawyer, but I decided to let go.
I mourned my old self and decided to get to know the new me – turns out she’s pretty freakin’ neat! I started to value the work that I was doing. I started to see my motherhood as an accomplishment, rather than something that took my precious accomplishments away.
I started to acknowledge that my hard work didn’t go to waste and that I wasn’t ashamed of the fact that I “gave my entire career up.” I started to understand that I wasn’t ashamed of being a mother, I was ashamed of being questioned about every decision I made.
Whatever anyone thought of me, I decided I wasn’t going to question myself anymore.
Why should I? I am a mother.
Right now, I am defined by my motherhood and I am okay with that. It’s not a 9 to 5, of course. It’s so much more than that. It’s exhausting, time-consuming, and overpowering. It’s rewarding, heartwarming, and gratifying. It’s everything you expected, and nothing at the same time.
I never thought I’d be a stay-at-home mom, I can tell you that much. I never thought I’d be writing about my experiences, hoping to motivate other stay-at-home moms to start appreciating themselves more.
I never thought I’d be rooting for mothers to stop explaining themselves – to ignore all the comments and do whatever you want to do because you don’t have to explain your reasons to anyone.
“What did you even do all day?”
“I raised a human.”