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A Difficult Choice

Grinning Baby

My Daily Affirmation

I can’t decide what to have for breakfast.

This may sound like a minor issue, but it feels like a bit of a crisis. This morning I’ve been meandering around the kitchen, washing a few dishes, getting things out and then putting them away. I finally decided I could make some coffee, and then, with that decision made, started wandering aimlessly again.

I’m a little lost.

I’ve made the very tough decision to leave a fulfilling job as a writer and online content manager to stay home with my son (for now). And while I’m incredibly thankful to be able to do this — and wouldn’t give this up for anything right now — this major life change has my head spinning.

I had my first summer job at 13, when I helped out at the preschool where my mom worked. After that, I worked at the neighborhood pool’s concession stand, then got a job at the Gap (a very ’90s thing to do), then took some shifts as a hostess at a restaurant after school. I even worked during the school day, volunteering in the main office (okay, this was mainly to get out of tardiness violations), visiting grade schools with the D.A.R.E. program and changing the world (or so I thought) as a member of student council. During college, I worked at the rec center, waited tables and led campus tours, and came home periodically to pick up waitressing shifts in my hometown.

Whether a part-time gig or a demanding grind, work has always been a big part of my life. It’s been a mental challenge, a creative outlet and a daily social encounter — not to mention a big part of my identity. Going to work was often stressful and exhausting (especially while I was pregnant and sporting a belly the size of a small cruise ship), but it provided me with a sense of camaraderie and companionship I’ve really missed.

After my son arrived, choosing between him and spending nearly two hours in the car was pretty simple. But there are still drawbacks to my choice. Some days I can actually feel knowledge leaving my head, and I worry that I might be a better mom if I went to work and came home to Hudson at night. But at some point every day, I know I’ve made the right choice.

Yesterday, that moment came when I used a makeshift luggage scale to weigh my son. In his first month, his weight gain was exceptional. But it was only half of what I hoped it would be at his two-month appointment. Since I’m breastfeeding, I was devastated at this news, and felt like I was failing at my newest — and most important — job.

So I was a little nervous to find out where he stands at three months old. It’s been 34 days since his last weigh-in, so I was hoping for an increase of around 34 ounces. After rigging up the scale, I thought I was having another case of “the dumbs” and that my math couldn’t possibly be right. But after checking it again, I was sure: my son has gained a whopping 58 ounces since his last appointment.

What an amazing feeling of accomplishment. With nothing but my own body, I’ve been able to provide my son with everything he needs and more. Looking at him only confirms this feeling. He is apple-cheeked and chubby, and every time I look at him — every time — he breaks into a slow grin that lights up his entire face. His impossibly blue eyes grow bright, and he often sings out, “nnnnnggoooo” or lets out a little squeal.

Today, I have to start all over again. The batteries in the baby swing are marching toward their death and the song it plays has taken on a maddening warble that just may make me lose my mind. I’ve yet to get dressed and a dust bunny tumbles across the floor, mocking my lamentable housekeeping abilities. I haven’t even been able to decide whether to fix some oatmeal or get out of my pajamas.

And then the coffeemaker sings its five beeps, telling me it has a steaming cup of black coffee ready for me. That’s a start.

10 responses »

  1. It’s so hard to know how to measure success as a stay at home mama. I know that for me, adjusting from the workplace to the homestead was a difficult transition…but in the end, so, so worth it. I’m working from home now and adjusting all over again!

  2. I don’t think you’ll ever regret your decision. Look at that perfect baby boy who loves you! You are doing something right! mommy Jan

  3. Oh dear friend, I literally have tears streaming down my cheeks. I am at work, but suddenly nothing I am supposed to do today holds a candle in importance to what you have on your plate. I love your blog for so many reasons- it is beautiful and funny, raw and authentic, and it so easily spans the hundreds of miles that separate us to make me feel like I am standing right next to you. The biggest reason, however, is that your writings are helping to prepare me to, one day, become a mother myself. And for that, I can never thank you enough.

    • Kennedy, what I would give you have you standing next to me! I love you dearly. You are an inspiration to me in so many ways, and will be an unbelievable parent. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  4. Stace – Just this morning on the way to preschool I experienced a first. We pulled up beside a dump truck, and my son had no comment about it….no excitement. He used to scream with delight and already those days have passed. All I could think to myself was, “Wow, that went fast.” Now he’s on to wanting to watch Sports Center, and I’m getting ready to go to Kindergarten information night next week. I know everyone says it, but I can’t tell you how fast these five years with Max have gone. You will never regret your decision to stay at home. It’s really hard some days…..REALLY hard. I too sometimes feel my brains have completely left my body. But, they haven’t, and yours won’t. My biggest salvation was when Max was 3 months old. I found a group of other stay at home moms. We met every week (and still do). Now our kids our best of friends, and the other SAHMs have become some of my closest confidants. You’ll find your groove sister…well actually, it sounds like maybe you already have. Love you! Christine

    • Oh, Christine — thank you, thank you. I am nearly in tears myself at the thought of little Max growing up. But, you will always be his mom, no matter how grown up he gets. I can’t wait to experience all the things you have.

  5. Pingback: Locomotive Appreciation Day « The Bump Life

  6. The challenges hey – I ‘stayed home’ or maybe ‘drove all over hells half acre’ with four kids was more accurate – but boy, do I understand the mood of your piece. Just now the last kid has moved away (she might be back in November ) and I’m experimenting with something I call semi-retirement. Funny, I’m stalling at breakfast again.


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