It was right around this time last year that my life launched into circus mode.
All throughout the fall and into the winter, an onslaught of news at the TV station where I worked as a producer had me pulling insanely long shifts. First it was the World Series, then it was the Election, and then, tragically, the Paris terror attacks. I found myself regularly working until 2 or 3 in the morning, copy editing scripts and producing the late-night news.
Did I mention that I was super pregnant at the time? My baby shower took place just a day after the deadly attacks in Paris, and in a bittersweet coincidence, had a Paris theme.
This year, my life is totally different. I left that crazy job to stay at home with my now ten-month-old daughter. I was so glad I had the freedom to make that choice, but the decision was surprisingly agonizing given the above description of my work life. It’s something I still feel defensive about, that I feel I need to explain to people.
So here are the things I want everyone to know:
I’m not lazy.
I wasn’t just waiting for an excuse to leave my job. I went back to work after a 13-week maternity leave with every cliché intention you can think of: “finding balance,” “making it work,” even “having it all.” But my career in TV news was too fast-paced and too unpredictable to be compatible with raising a daughter.
I did it for ten years, I worked really hard, and I made a lot of sacrifices. I missed a ridiculous number of family get-togethers and holiday meals and dinners with my husband. With a kid in the picture, I knew I was no longer willing to make those kinds of sacrifices.
I’m not judging you.
I made the best choice for my family. I don’t care which choice you make for yours.
If both you and your spouse decide to work, I admire your dedication. If both both you and your spouse must work, I admire your selflessness. Whether you’ve got a great nanny or daycare or a grandparent or a stay-at-home dad, all that matters is that your kid is being taken care of.
I’m terrified that I’m not cut out for this.
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for a few months now, and I’m still not entirely sure that I’m not screwing everything up.
My constant presence at home hasn’t made my daughter a better sleeper or a better eater, and it definitely hasn’t made me a better cook or housekeeper. I still suck at Pinterest, and I’m still curbing my stir-craziness with trips to Target.
I don’t have the answers.
Though I’ve now seen both sides, I still couldn’t tell you whether working or staying at home is easier. I traded one kind of stress for another. I’m working harder now than I ever have in my life, because babies make incredibly demanding bosses.
There really is no easy way. We’re all just doing the best we can for our kids. And that work is never over.