Nearly ten years ago, I made a decision. I didn’t think it’d be controversial. An ordinary and selfless decision, I thought. Sadly, other women didn’t see it that way. I became a stay-at-home mom – and I never expected that I would need to find new friends as a stay-at-home mom.
At the time, I had two children, a seven-year-old son and a brand new baby girl. I realized one thing – working a full-time job, being the primary caregiver to my children, and taking care of the house did not work for me. Because of my husband’s work hours and commute, I lacked a support system for over 12 hours a day. On a typical workday, I’d be lucky if the kids saw him before he went to sleep. Then, on the weekends, his energy level matched the one of our couch.
Before our newest addition, I already acted like a married, single mother and to add another child to the equation didn’t sit well with me. I knew something needed to change. If we couldn’t change his situation, we would change mine, so I didn’t end every day passing out from exhaustion. That change would start with me staying home.
As I explain this to you, in my actual life, no one asked me why. No one wondered why I wanted to stay home. And definitely no one cared about my mental welfare. They raised children alone or under much more grueling circumstances. They didn’t want to understand it was too much for me.
Even with all the cynics, one question that got under my skin. One question never made sense to me, “Why are you throwing away your law degree?”
I earned that law degree, in my name. To top it off, I still owed tens of thousands of dollars in student debt.
The first time someone asked me this question, it startled me, not understanding what effect it would have on them. My decision would not affect them yet would turn mine upside right.
I doubted myself
I spent years debating myself, feeling “less than”, wondering whether I made the right choice. Did my children, especially my daughter, need a female representation of a work-life balance? Can I effectively raise a strong, independent woman if I was a stay-at-home mother.
We also had to consider our new financial situation. Without my income, we had to spend wisely, from the children’s activities to eating out. (Truth be told, the answer was “none”.) And with our growing family, should I work to purchase a nicer and larger home?
Alas, I knew what was best for me and my family. Because of that, on the outside, I could shout it from the rooftops. However, inside, when I was alone, I questioned everything. Most of the women that I considered friends no longer understood my struggles. They worked so hard to become the successful women that we always talked about. Between my limited budget and new lifestyle, the only people who understood were other stay at home moms. I was heartbroken. To become comfortable with my choice, I had to add a whole new set of friends.
I needed to complain and rejoice in the mundane life of raising children. Sometimes, the highlight of the day, especially with a newborn, was taking a shower (and if you knew this child, you’d totally agree)! Getting my son to school on time, my daughter down for a nap and still make dinner was a win for me!
Although I wanted to bring the existing friends along for the ride, the truth is we related over hard days at work, crappy coworkers and micromanaging bosses. We listened to each other, but at this point in time, we didn’t connect.
Raising children already exhausted me, I didn’t want to have to do the work of getting new friends. But I had to be honest that I was in a different stage of life. In this new life, I wanted to connect over picky eaters, finding toys in the weirdest places, and who cried first when nap time came (more often it was me). My existing friends just didn’t understand.
I Had to Find New Friends
So I set out on a hunt. Unlike finding friends for yourself, you have two (or more) personalities to account for. I needed to find a group that had kids the same age. Since baby girl spent most of the day in my arms, I looked for a group that would work for my son.
Next was personalities. Typically, I would start with making sure that my son would mesh with the other kids, but he is super amenable and kids need to be complete jerks for them to bother him. So, I checked out whether I liked the moms.
One group only had evening playdates. As much as I liked the cooler evening weather, our bedtime routine took priority.
Another loved a paid venue or an annual pass. Remember, our income took a hit with me at home, so these playdates were unfeasible.
A third took the annual pass to another level and made Disney their second home. If I couldn’t afford multiple museum passes, Disney was certainly out of the question.
After some time, I finally found a mommy group that suited me. The kids were in the same range and had similar interests. The moms wanted to meet at times and places that worked for me, and I actually liked them too!
Have you transitioned to stay-at-home mom? What was your experience?