One day my husband turns to me and nonchalantly states, “If you want to stay at home mom with our son, then you can.” I whipped my head towards him and very loudly pronounced, “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!” To say I was ecstatic at first would be an understatement! From the moment I had J, I knew that I wanted to stay home with him. Forget work! Butttttt I’m a strong independent woman and don’t need no man to take care of me!
After maternity leave, back to the trenches I went, kicking and screaming and if I’m completely honest, balling my eyes out. You see, I’m a social worker; but not just any social worker, I work in child welfare specifically adoptions recruiting for the kids whose parents’ rights have been terminated and are considered the harder to place children (teenagers, large sibling groups, and children with severe medical and mental disabilities). Let me tell you, I LOVE MY JOB!!! But wow, is it difficult. The late nights, the long road trips, the secondary trauma, the drama, the arrests, the Baker Acts, etc. etc…but oh! the love, the laughs, the connections and ability to build a bond with a child who hates everyone else and not to mention the sheer joy of being able to give a child a family, a family that they deserved from the beginning but a family who chose them. It’s one of the most magic feelings in the world!
So you can see why my enthusiasm quickly switched to anxiety and uncertainty. How can I leave my kids and my families? How can I leave my coworkers (whom are my closest friends)? How can I leave a company where I have worked for the past 6 six years, since leaving my undergraduate career (GO FSU!)? How can I leave a position that has changed my life forever but also one that has changed so many others? My blood, sweat, and lots and lots of tears were put into helping my kids become successful. (Oh gosh, I’m crying as I write this.)
But then the unthinkable happened, one of my kids passed away from medical complications. I was the only one who had met him because he was placed literally on the opposite side of the state. I sat at his bedside and held his hand, I watched him grow, and I cried because he was only three years old. I cried because he died in a hospital with no family, no one to hold him, no one to sing to him, no one to tell him stories, no one to love him or call him their own. He died without knowing what a parent is. My heart quite literally broke in half. I went home and I held J (as long as a toddler would let me) and I cried because of the love and support J has and something the other child will never get to know. I knew then that I needed a change and I was missing out on some of the most important years of my son’s life.
I was so wrapped up in my job that many nights I didn’t get to do bedtime or if I did it was rushed because I was coming home so late. Then in the mornings, he wouldn’t be awake because I would have to leave so early. I would see him on the weekends and he would surprise me with a ton of firsts, many of which weren’t really firsts but simply a first for me. Can we take a second and talk about mommy guilt? Because holy freaking cow, the struggle is real. I couldn’t keep missing these moments with him, it wasn’t fair to me and it definitely wasn’t fair to him.
So wait, did I just decided to leave to my job and become a stay at home mom?? Yep, that definitely happened but WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I JUST GET MYSELF INTO?!?
We were one of the areas affected by Hurricane Michael and were without daycare and power for a week. In the just the first day, J managed to steal ALL of the toilet paper out of the bathroom (while I was using it mind you), he discovered how to climb onto the couch and completely terrorize our 16 year old dachshund, he tore down the blinds in the living room and left teeth marks all along the window seal. Of course the week steadily got better but what in the world do I do with a toddler all day, every day?? I guess we’re about to find out!
Parents, I write this to tell you to take the leap! Whatever that may be. You only get one chance at life and your babies don’t stay little long enough. A very wise ‘big sister’ told me that you will never regret the time you took to spend time with your kids. No one can teach, nurture, and mold him like you.
Give your kids an extra hug and kiss today. You’re a rock star parent and you are the exact person they need you to be.
P.S. T-minus 21 days until I’m a full-time stay at home mom. Send me all the good vibes!