As a stay-at-home-mom, I debated going back to work for a long time before I actually did. I had moments when I felt called to continue my career, but fear held me back. I feared it wasn't the right decision for my kids or our family in general. I feared the guilt that would engulf me. I feared I wouldn't make enough money anyway, so it wouldn't be worth it. And overall, I feared that the kids would miss their mother too much. But recently, despite my fears, I made the decision to go back to work as a teacher, and it's the best thing I could have done.
I waited to get back into the workforce until my kids were a little older — my youngest was getting ready to start kindergarten. And before working in a classroom again, I earned another graduate degree and freelanced on the side. While I loved staying home with my kids, it was important to me to make time to do those things so I wouldn't be completely out of practice with working. When I was ready, and with both my kids in school, I knew it was the right time for me to jump back in.
The first day back to work, I immediately felt empowered. I rummaged through my closet, dug out my old stilettos, and slid my feet into them. They served as my own version of a superwoman cape. On that first day, I handed out my syllabus to a class full of eager students. I stood poised. Sure, I was a little nervous, but overall, I felt ready. It wasn't that I was nervous to teach again (that felt like riding a bike), but I was nervous to be away from my kids all day, every day. However, to my surprise, it was smooth sailing that entire first day — for everyone.
Sure, we had our hiccups. On my daughter's first day of her after-school program, she cried the whole way home after I picked her up. She wasn't used to being away from me an entire school day and then some. While I felt guilty for one whole second, I knew that she would be fine. I mean, one of the greatest things about kids is their ability to adjust. And now that I'm working, my kids love asking me about my day, too. Each day after school, the kids and I get to chat about what we did while we were away from each other. My son, a second grader, asks about my students, what they wrote about, and more. Suddenly, Mommy is more than Mommy — and they're a tad more interested in answering my questions, too.
But in all honesty, going back to work is just about getting my mojo back. While I feel incredibly grateful that I was able to stay home with my children (even when it required not just tightening our belt but also buying a smaller one altogether), I feel like I'm returning to myself. And maybe absence really does make the heart grow fonder; I'm not sure. But what I do know is that I feel like a much more patient mother since I started working again; one who's ready to dig into the homework with my children after school without losing my mind. I'm also the mother who may press a little too hard on the gas pedal as I make my way home, because I'm just so excited to see my children's beaming faces.
Making the decision to go back to work when you're a stay-at-home-mom is a tough one. Some of us feel nudged to do so at different times, and some may never feel the nudge at all. But I'm more than glad that I decided to finally listen to that nudge — and ignore the fear. And now that our family has adjusted to a new schedule and a new mom, it's proven to be more than worth it.