When I got pregnant, I didn’t think transitioning from being a SAHM to working mom would take five years. Back then, I agonized over the job or career that would allow me to stay home with my baby for a good while. It turns out that job was being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). Although I didn’t think so at the time, being the stay at home parent is a ‘job.’ That becomes apparent when we realize just how much work it is, and as I also found out when I contemplated going back to work a few years ago, one that saved us money.
When I did the math, we would have made so little from me having a job after the travelling, childcare and other additional expenses that it wasn’t worth the hassle. Now my little one is in school, I’m transitioning from being a SAHM to a working mom after five years, and so many emotions are attached. All of which is exacerbated by the fact that I am thousands of miles away while doing it.
Being a SAHM Wasn’t The Plan
I’ve always wanted a career. While it took me a while to figure out just what that career is, I always imagined it (the occupation) as being active and external to my home life—that was my plan before my husband, or more specifically, before my baby.
It wasn’t until after I got pregnant that planning for child care entered my mind. I recognized that both hubby and I had been making grad school plans. I was pregnant, and we were living in Kingston. At the same time, our respective families resided elsewhere, and my husband was months away from starting his residency, so I had to decide.
Stay-At-Home-Mom Life is Consuming
The reality was that being married to a doctor in early residency, being a new mom without family support, and being a grad student wasn’t going to fly. When I made the plan to stay at home with our baby, I considered a year, but as motherhood progressed, that changed to when my daughter started school, which would be a short time away from hubby completing residency. So that’s how that happened. My family was my priority and needed me, so I became a SAHM.
SAHM life is consuming but happy and rewarding. As much as I told myself I wouldn’t do it, my family’s needs always took precedence. I would agonize over how tired I was and long for breaks, and when the sporadic break did present itself, I didn’t want it.
The Elephant in the Room for SAHMs
Even scarier, as a woman responsible for myself since my late teenage years, completely entrusting my maintenance to my spouse did not come easily to me. Of course, this isn’t an indictment on my husband, whom I trust entirely. It’s just that as a woman, I am aware enough of the situation many a trusting wife finds themselves in. I’d never have been able to do it if I did not completely trust my husband’s character and felt genuinely safe.
All the same, it was a tough thing to settle into, and my mind constantly wondered about a backup plan.
The thing is, one income is dangerously close to none. That’s true for one person and even more apparent for a family of three. Should my husband come up unable to work at any point, we’d be sitting ducks. So I found something to do. If only slowly, I worked on fattening our savings for a cushion in case of anything diligently. I made my time at home valuable by becoming a work-from-home (WFH) mom. While that was nice, I eventually wanted out of that too, when my daughter went off to school and my days were filled with more housekeeping than mom-ing.
As my husband neared the end of residency and our daughter started school, We talked about my plans following those transitions. They were not continuing as a SAHM. Not because I didn’t love it, I’m just not wired to go in indefinitely without regular intellectual challenge. (As evidenced by this blog, the business and the books I wrote).
The Transition to Working Mom from SAHM
Conversations with hubby focused on what I wanted to do with my career after his residency, and what we needed to do as a family to support those goals. Even when I tried to make a case for baby number two while I was already at home, he refused, reminding me of my own dreams. He reminded me about what I wanted to do for myself when he finished his turn.
During that time, the pandemic entered the chat, and everything slowed. It worked out, but it all started because life simply… happened.
The transition included a lot of sacrifices, including my move to Canada, creating a two-household family, a long-distance marriage. It is a less than ideal parenting situation. My daughter spends way more time away from me and sometimes her Dad than I am comfortable with. Video calls aren’t enough and do nothing for the ache of wanting to hold my child. However, I am comforted that I have a plan and goals.
SAHM to Working Mom From a Distance
Although my husband is incredibly supportive and amazing (shameless plug-my husband ROCKS!), being away from the two of them and not taking care of them has been challenging. It’s been hard to lose the routine of drop-offs and pickups for school. Those paired with my business, my blog and extra activities that filled my days. I even miss the cleaning and the extra-soothing feeling when they come home to a clean house. I sourly miss my three-people household. Often, it feels I am causing that disruption for our child too, and i can tell she misses it.
It’s not that I thought going from a SAHM to working mom is easy, regardless of when that transition happens. Some women go back after the kids go to school. Some only when they’ve finished raising their children (in their home). Either way, it’s one of those things only experience can prepare you for.
Have you or do you know anyone when transitioned from being a SAHM to working mom?
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