Why Going Back to Being a Working Mom Terrifies Me

Gain insight into a SAHM’s feelings as she makes the transition from being a SAHM mom back to being a working mom.

Let’s play Two Truths and a Lie:

  1. I’m excited to go back to work.
  2. I’ve loved staying at home with my kids.
  3. I’m embracing this change.

I’m excited to go back to work.

Starting out with a lie right here. I mean yes, I’m excited to rediscover an aspect of my person that has been in semi-hibernation for the last 2½ years. And I’m excited to talk about more than which Cars character is the best, why Cinderella puts up with her evil stepsisters, and whether someone pooped so I can know to wipe their butt. But that’s about where the excitement ends. Truth be told, I’m terrified.

I’m terrified that I can’t hack it. Yes, I’ve “stayed relevant” since leaving the workforce to stay at home with the Tagalongs, but that’s been with just a handful of projects for single clients who’ve asked me to determine the appropriate level of editing and set the deadlines. Two years is a long time to go without being fully immersed in the publishing world, working with a team to juggle multiple projects on tight deadlines.

What if I leave participles dangling all over a project, miss applying a key component of the house style guide, or give the thumbs-up to a project that cites Alan Shepard as being the first man to walk on the moon? (Oh wait, I’ve already done that last one …) What if my juggling skills extend to only interesting three different toddlers in a 10-minute activity I saw on Pinterest? What if the only deadline I’m able to handle is getting my kids to the library storytime ONLY 5 minutes late?

I was the A+ student, the employee whom managers trusted to finalize projects. What if I no longer live up to those standards?

And this is just the professional apprehension I face. I used to not understand how SAHMs do it. Now I don’t understand how working moms do it.

As a SAHM, I threw a load of laundry in around building car tracks all over the playroom and did the dishes while my kids were happily mesmerized by an episode of Daniel Tiger. Meal and grocery planning were done at nap time, and errands were worked in around meals and snacks. When is all this going to get done now? We have a live-in family member who requires us to clean, do laundry, and grocery shop for him. When will his needs be met? Chris and I get maybe an hour a night of couple time before we fall asleep drooling on our books, and I don’t remember the last time we had whatever the heck a date night is. When will we spend the time necessary to maintain a healthy, fulfilling marriage? And that doesn’t even speak to the family and friends we’re trying desperately to maintain relationships with. I get up at 4 a.m. every morning to work out. Will that need to move even earlier so I can juggle all the things?

“How exciting!” people gush at me when they find out I’m re-entering the workforce. I just plaster a smile on my face, nod my head, and try to push down the sick feeling building in my stomach. I know I’ll adjust and figure things out, but my mind is having a hard time wrapping itself around that right now.

Woman asleep in bed with book on chest.
A common sight in our house after the Tagalongs go to bed.

I’ve loved staying at home with my kids.

This is a truth. Mostly. About 65% of the time. Before they turned three-years-old. But after they turned one-year-old.

I didn’t start out wanting to be a SAHM, and the days are definitely long with a capital L, but I’ve come to appreciate this season of life.

Staying at home with my kids allowed me to witness a lot of their firsts and keep eagle-eye tabs on development that started out 3 months behind. It gave me a thorough understanding of how their big personalities work in their small bodies. It helped me establish routines and expectations that allow us to at least stay the course if not operate smoothly.

And staying at home with my kids has grown me as well. Being in the eye of a three-pronged hurricane 24/7 has taught me to set expectations to meet reality. Advocating for kids who don’t yet have their own words has shown me how to be more straightforward in my communication. Having three tiny humans rely on me for practically everything has taught me to be more vocal about my own needs.

Being a SAHM has afforded me opportunities I don’t know I would have had in another situation. And for this, I will be forever grateful.

Toddlers play with cars in a home’s kitchen.
One of many, many “learning activities” with the Tagalongs. This activity created an hour of memories the kids still talk about.

I’m embracing this change.

I don’t know that I’m embracing it—more like accepting it.

I’ve long said that I’d do what I needed to do for my family, and my family needs me to work right now. And the stars seem to be aligning to put this into motion: the Tagalongs are in full-time preschool due to a partial scholarship, I was fast-tracked through an interview process, and the company I’ll be working for seems like the right place in which to find my footing. We ignored the neon signs telling us I needed to be at home instead of in a cubicle for almost a year. We’re not doing that again.

Hindsight is 20/20, and although I had reservations about becoming a SAHM, I now know that it was the right decision for our family. And looking forward, I know that going back to work is right for our family as well.

Whenever I think about this entire topic, lyrics from my favorite Green Day song always comes to mind: “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.” I’ve certainly had the time of my life, and I’m looking forward to what this next season will bring.

Gain insight into a SAHM’s feelings as she makes the transition from being a SAHM mom back to being a working mom.

About Marcella Hines

Marcella Hines

Marcella wants to live in a world where she can escape to quiet rooms stacked high with books that come bundled with a brownie cookie dough DQ blizzard and cuddly purr monster. When she’s not finding creative ways to play with cars for the eleventy billionth time or shouting, “Undies! Pants! Sit! Pee!” at toddlers who have the attention span of a gnat, you can find her running to the beats of an audiobook/podcast or assisting writers in crafting their work through her editing business, A to Z Editing. Marcella likes talking about the day-to-day experience of raising triplets, like how to navigate toddler time and a park playdate with three toddlers in tow. Follow her running, English weenie-ing, and ice creaming on Instagram: @hineschica.

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