Friends would ask me how life as a stay-at-home mom was and I would feel the need to wax poetic about it, but in reality, I was missing a major part of myself.
When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I overheard a group of women talking about working mothers:
“Working moms are impressive with the way they manage the corporate world and spend all that time away from their kids! I just couldn’t do it. I want my kid to spend more time with me than at a daycare.”
Their words rang through my ears on an incessant loop as I returned to work after the birth of my son. I was constantly adding up the number of hours I spent in the office to compare to the number of hours I spent with my son. No matter how it balanced out, I felt like a failure.
Eight months later, I left my job to be a stay-at-home mom. I finally felt like I was meeting the expectation of some exclusive club of mothers who were doing it better than me. I texted all of my SAHM friends and told them “I’m one of you now! Let’s do play dates! I put all of my personal and professional dreams on hold so that I’ll never feel insecure again!” (Okay, it wasn’t exactly like that, but it might as well have been.)
I lasted three months. Friends would ask me how life as a stay-at-home mom was and I would feel the need to wax poetic about it, but in reality, I was missing a major part of myself. I missed my professional ambition, my drive, my ingenuity. I was so stuck in the present that I had taken away my thirst to dream for the future. I saw other moms thriving and excelling in their roles at home, but I simply wasn’t.
One and a half years after my son was born, I started my business. It started as a small idea, a little tiny spark that I acted on before I could talk myself out of it. Then it snowballed into something beyond my wildest dreams. It led to an umbrella of other businesses, friendships, and partnerships. It led to opportunities for experiences and adventures for our entire family that we couldn’t have enjoyed otherwise. It brought us so much.
Last year my firstborn went to Kindergarten and I wept like a baby when he disappeared into his school. I was instantly flooded with memories of our days together, and I was really going to miss him. I pulled into the parking lot next to his school and just let myself cry for a bit because it all went just as fast as people told me it would. I cried, but I didn’t regret a second. I didn’t regret a childcare drop-off or a day spent working instead of playing or a single meeting that I dragged my kids to. I just felt proud of myself.
If I could go back in time I would grab that young and pregnant girl listening to those more seasoned moms and tell her that’s not the whole story. Some kids go to day-care, some kids stay home, some kids have nannies, and some kids do a combo. Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai were raised by working moms, and they’re doing okay. Working moms have the power to show their kids how ambition and hard work can change the whole world. Give yourself permission to dream and work for those dreams because one day your little boy is going to walk into Kindergarten without turning around to look back and you’re going to be left sitting all by yourself. So do whatever you need to do to make sure that you still know who you are when that day comes.
Erin Jackson is the co-founder of Raise. She's a mother of two, wife, daughter, step-daughter, half sister, step-sister, proud millennial, and lover of travel. She also works as a marketing consultant and interior designer. When she's not working, you can find her planning her next trip, baking muffins, pretending she's going to go for a run, and avoiding playing Star Wars with her kids. She currently lives in Arkansas with her husband, Collin, and sons, Beckham and Reeves.