I was a child of the late 70’s and 80’s, when women were making great strides in having careers outside of the home. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by saying my biggest aspiration was just to be a wife and mother. The question was always asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I’d always reply with a very professional answer, vet or nurse, or best-selling author and then at the end I’d tag on “and a mom”. And truth be told, I did have dreams of becoming something big, like the first woman fighter pilot, or NASCAR driver, or travelling the world meeting dignitaries while representing my country, or manning a gun on a big battleship. Problem was, even as a child, I was trying to figure out where I’d stash my children on that battleship or if wearing your child strapped to your back would be distracting while socializing with the Prime Minister of Australia. It was a small glitch that needed working out, one I would ponder for the next 20 years or so.
Fast forward to the birth of my first child. I was a teacher. I couldn’t ever figure out the logistics of my other career choices and having kids as well, so it was no wonder I found teaching. The schedule was perfect for working and having a family, and I loved , loved teaching. Perfect solution. The problem was I never thought about where the kids would go when they were too small to be in school. I had a summer to find a place for my baby to go before the next school year started.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”, seemed to be the question that kept running through my head as I researched, interviewed, and prayed over who would be best to take care of my child while I was working. There were some wonderful, loving places my child could have stayed while I worked. I felt I needed to work. My husband and I were used to the money two incomes provided, and weren’t sure if we could make it without my salary. Plus, I loved teaching. I was good at it and I didn’t want to leave my school. The problem was, I didn’t want to leave my child either.
One night the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up echoed through my head for the millionth time and suddenly I knew the answer, “just a mom”. That’s it, nothing else. That’s all I’d ever wanted. I knew it when I was 4 and held my baby sister and pretended to be her mom. I knew it when I met the man of my dreams and walked down the aisle. I even knew it when I got my first teaching job. So I tearfully called my principle the next day and told him I wouldn’t be coming back. I also cried on the first day of school, because even though I knew being a stay-at-home mom was my choice, I couldn’t help but be sad over a chapter of my life that was closing.
Can you be a mom and work? Absolutely! Could I be a mom and work? No. Just so you know, I worked for a short period of time when both my oldest girls could attend the school I worked at. As much as I loved my job, I once again found myself wanting to be “just a mom”. And then God blessed us with the surprise of being pregnant with my third and I knew I would be hanging up my working shoes for good.
I have three daughters who dream of being doctors, chefs, and horse trainers. They are smart and caring and hard workers. They have years to figure it out. But one thing I do know is that if they decide that someday they want to be “just a mom”, I’ll be as proud of them as I would be if they decided to be just a neurosurgeon.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.”
-Henry David Thoreau
What about you, are you living the life you imagined?