That’s the only way to describe my feelings on the day I received the news that my position had been eliminated. As I packed up my office, I felt fear. My worries were not only about of what my future held, financially, logistically and personally, but (I hate to admit it) I was terrified to be a stay at home mom!
So many thoughts and emotions flooded my mind. I couldn’t possibly be a good mom at home all day; heck I never have been a stay-at-home-mom! I had an amazing full-time nanny who came to my house at 7:30am and stayed all day, every work day, ever since my daughter was six months old. How in the world could I suddenly take her place? After all, the nanny and my daughter) had a bond that I could never compete with.
I was terrified to be home alone with my daughter.
Would my daughter like me at home? Would she like me as much as our nanny? Could I fill her day like the nanny does? Am I entertaining enough for her? Could I go on all four legs and pretend to be zoo animals? Could I have mid-afternoon dance parties? How in the world could I play pretend for hours? Could I play dress-up in our pajamas AND have fun doing it? What things would we do in the day? I mean, this is something I only really did in the evenings and weekends and then my husband would be home so I would have reinforcements. How could I do it all by my self, all day, every day? AND it was summer and she was not in school. That meant all day we were home alone together. How could I jump into this? I felt like a great mom when I was working, but being a stay-at-home-mom was both exciting and terrifying to me. Could I be a good mom at home?
After much deliberation and with an anxious heart, my husband and I decided that I should take some time off work and be at home for a while.
So there it was. I was officially out of the work force and we (sadly) no longer had a full-time nanny.
It was one of the scariest things I ever done.
I know that this must sound silly. You might ask yourself, how could a mother feel scared to stay at home with her child? I asked the same question to myself. I felt awful. I felt inadequate. I never knew I felt like this, until that first day I was at home, not at work, sitting in her playroom, without a job, alone with my daughter. The mantra, “I can do this?” playing in my head on repeat.
There I was with Barbie in hand, playing pretend and after a long deep breath I knew right there and then, I was exactly where I needed to be. I realized at that moment that I was working so hard that I forgot to be present and missed out on the important things in life. I forgot to live, play and most of all, breathe in the present day life. I realized that it was not scary to be at home with her and that I was the same mom I have always been, her mom, and yes I can do this!
I will never be the same parent that I was because I had this precious time to reflect. I am so fortunate that I only felt absent in her life for about a year and it didn’t last for years. I am a better mother, friend and wife because of this. Now the challenge is to find a way to keep this “living in the present” a constant in my life.
In many ways, I still consider myself a “working-mom”. I keep myself busy with various work and I likely will go back to work full-time, but I know that this reality-check was exactly what I needed. I will never let myself slip into a work-only life again. What a wake-up call and how lucky I feel to have been given that opportunity to be present again!