“So the babies won, huh?” a coworker said as she walked up to me.
She’d clearly read the department-wide email I’d sent out that morning before coming into work. I was resigning from my position as production copyeditor at a curriculum design company—effective almost immediately. My editing pen was being traded in for stay-at-home mom leggings.
“They always win,” she continued, nodding as she stopped at the wall of my cubicle to chat.
I’m beginning to see that.
I was resigning following our latest failed attempt to secure childcare for the Tagalongs. We’d been through four nannies in 6 months. That’s right, I said four.
Nanny #1 was awesome, but for some reason (sarcasm button on), she insisted on finishing her last year of school to earn an Early Childhood Education degree. Nanny #2 offered advanced babysitting and spent a good deal of time playing Candy Crush on her phone. Nanny #3 was very promising—until her family life became troubled and creeped into her care of our babies. Two candidates quit on us the day before they were supposed to start their training because they “didn’t feel they’d be a good fit.” (How can you decide you’re not a good fit before … Oh never mind.) Nanny #4 called out three times during her first week, putting her attendance record at a whopping three out of eight days.
We’d explored au pairs, paid for a membership with a website that was supposed to help us manage our family’s childcare needs, posted on local Facebook childcare pages, and toured daycares. The last 2 months had seen us string together childcare between three different friends as we prayed for Mary Poppins to umbrella her English butt over to our doorstep.
No such luck.
When Nanny #4 called out for the third time right about when she was supposed to show up for work, we waved the white flag. Someone upstairs clearly had something else in mind, and although we’d done quite a bit of schlepping, we didn’t feel like landing in the belly of a giant fish.
So Chris drove home, and I drove into work to deliver the news that I was going from working mom to stay-at-home-mom.
“Congratulations! We’re so excited for you!” These and similar sentiments were gushed at me as I broke the news to coworkers, family, and friends over the next few days. “What an adventure this will be!”
I didn’t feel like gushing. And I certainly wasn’t excited. In fact, I told Chris that I was going to throat punch the next person to congratulate me on becoming a stay-at-home mom. That person was my grandfather, and I sat on my hands as I nodded politely and thanked him. I’d still like to be invited to family events.
I’m about as excited for this new “adventure” as I am when the weather dips below 80 degrees (I’m an Arizonan through and through). To be clear, I have nothing against the idea of women staying at home to raise their children. I think that being a stay-at-home mom is one of the most underrated and unrecognized “jobs” there is.
I just don’t think I should be a card-carrying member of the stay-at-home-mom club. I don’t have what stay-at-home moms have. I don’t know what that is, but I know I don’t have it.
Maybe stay-at-home moms have a desire or feel called to stay at home. That desire definitely hasn’t crossed my palette of emotions. And I feel much more called to help writers effectively communicate their thoughts on a full-time basis than I do to spend an entire day teaching Caleb how to pull to sit. Teach him before I leave for work, after I get home, and on the weekends? Absolutely! But all day long? Yeah, that’s my eye you see twitching. I firmly believe that all of us have a calling in life, and Ginsu knifing my way through someone’s writing is mine.
Which brings us to skill. I don’t necessarily like working (Does anyone?), but I enjoy the work I do, and—pushing aside the words of a disgruntled former coworker—I’ve been told that I’m very good at it. Hand me a verbose, disorganized, ungrammatical piece of writing, and I can stare it down, untangle it, rearrange it, and mold it into a fine piece of writing (if I do say so myself). Manage three 12-month-olds in the midst of Teethinggeddon, sleep regression, and completely different stages of development? I can do it for one day. I can do it for 2 days. But by Day 3, I’m sending Chris text messages that read something like this:
If James continues to scream at every nap period, I’ll REALLY give him something to scream about.
YOUR daughter is on my ish list.
YOUR BUTT HAD BETTER BE WALKING THROUGH THAT DOOR AT 3:30.
Thank God for our Early Intervention therapists and Pinterest. Otherwise, the Tagalongs and I would sit around staring at each other all day. As it is, half the activities or homemade toys or care decisions I come up with are ignored or unsuccessful. I’ve long said that I can handle children above the age of five. Any younger than that, and things get sketchy.
I realize that all of this makes me a poster child for World’s Worst Mom. And I feel like the World’s Worst Mom for saying all this. What mom doesn’t want to spend more time with her kids? And it’s not that I don’t want to spend time with my babies. I love them—I really do. I love spending time with them. I love helping and watching them grow. I love trying to make them laugh and holding them while they cry. I went through hell trying to have them, and I wouldn’t do anything differently or trade them in for the world. But staying at home to raise my babies on a full-time basis just doesn’t feel like me.
Maybe it will in time. Maybe I’ll get a week, a month, a year (GOOD GOSH it had better not take a year!) into being a stay-at-home mom and realize that this “job” is really my life’s calling and editing is merely an interest. And maybe not. Either way, I’m sure it’ll be an adventure.