Six months before my oldest started kindergarten, I had a panic attack. I accepted her spot at a school we loved, and then I promptly freaked out that my baby would spend more of her waking hours with other people than she did with me. I had been working outside of the home, and even though my schedule was flexible and part-time, it still didn’t feel like enough. I had always felt a ticking clock hanging over us, but now the ticking was louder.
Together with my husband, we made the decision that I would leave the workforce to spend those waning years (or months in my oldest’s case) with my kiddos. Once both kids were in school full-time, I’d get back to work (the paid kind). I fell in love with being home almost immediately. I relaxed into motherhood and stopped trying to balance it with a career that was unfulfilling to me. Juggling the daily transitions between mom and employee had stressed me out more than I had realized. I felt immensely grateful for the ability to silence the distractions and focus my attention where I’d wanted it to be all along.
The Ending Of A Season
Over the intervening years, I tried to envision what my future job might be. My husband would mention “when you go back to work” in a conversation, and I’d cringe internally. I knew I wanted to work again someday, but I couldn’t imagine what that would look like. It felt like a puzzle I couldn’t solve. Eventually, I began to feel a different kind of signal. Through a few opportunities to take on some projects, I felt invigorated by a new challenge. I was excited and proud to feel this long-absent sense of accomplishment. I knew, as my youngest started kindergarten, that I was ready for the next chapter of my life—however, I still didn’t know what that was.
But What Next?
I felt certain that I didn’t want to return to the industry I’d left five years earlier, but that still left a lot of options to explore. I started making mental lists.
What are my skills? What do I like to do? What do I need from a job?
Not only did I have no idea what my next job could be, I also had no idea how to transition to a new career path with a gaping void on my resumé. Once again, I felt stuck. I knew there must be a place out there for me, but where was it and how would I get there?!
My emotions ran the gamut from frustration at how hard it was to find a good match to excitement at the prospect of something new and challenging…and, if I’m being totally honest, sometimes feelings of guilt and defeat. Maybe I’m not meant to find something. Maybe this is just it for me.
Adventures: The Option I Didn’t Know Existed
Then by some stroke of good luck or fate or serendipity, a real option fell in my lap. It was an opportunity to share my expertise as a parent, a chance to monetize all of the skills I’ve honed over the past nine years of motherhood. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a job description more aligned with my skill set and needs.
Suddenly that ticking clock was a loud, dinging bell with confetti raining down. This was it! I had found a path forward, and it was a job that I had been doing for years. I would get paid to share my ideas for fun and games, learning and crafts, cooking and outings. Creating Adventures on Sittercity, uniquely fun and customizable child care experiences, would combine my love of creativity and my passion for my kids. Finally, someone wanted to pay me because they saw the value in my work as a stay-at-home mom!
Owning My Experience
I was ready to embrace my new role as a working mom right away. Creating Adventures was an instant confidence boost. Instead of struggling to camouflage the gap in my work experience, I was able to draw on nearly a decade of child-rearing skills right from the start. I wasn’t pretending to focus on a meeting while internally planning after-school activities–my new job was planning after-school activities.
We must keep pushing for more work-life fluidity. We must demand more flexibility and more opportunities that actually work for all moms. Motherhood is not a pause on a resumé. Motherhood is not something women do until they go back to work. Motherhood is not some lesser career path or an either/or scenario. Motherhood is work. Motherhood is job experience. Motherhood is valuable. Moms are valuable. We need to shift the way we view stay-at-home moms away from someone who has decided to leave the workforce and instead see how we can create bridges between the two types of working worlds.