When my husband and I began dating we had a serious talk. I told him there were three things I was not willing to negotiate about in our life together. I didn’t want him to be blindsided later in our relationship, and since I knew I was really starting to like him, I wanted to express the things that were most important to me in marriage and family life. First, I told him I wanted to raise my children in an alcohol free home. Second, I told him I wanted to seriously consider adoption. Third, I explained that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Some would argue these are decisions you make once you are married, but since I knew I wouldn’t ever budge on any of them, I had to let him know before he was too invested. He wasn’t super keen on the stay at home mom dream. His mom was a working mom his entire life and the idea of me being a stay at home mom didn’t really appeal to him. Not wanting to end the relationship, he said he would think about it and eventually saw how important it was to me.
So when I first found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I had so many mixed emotions. My husband was just starting graduate school, I was five months into my first “real” job and my sister had just experienced the devastating loss of her first born at 32 weeks gestation. To say the timing wasn’t ideal is an understatement. My preconceived notion of my career and motherhood path didn’t include having a baby after just a year of working. So when I found out I was pregnant and knew my husband wouldn’t have a full-time job by the time baby came, I was majorly disappointed. Being the mostly positive person that I am, I decided to make the best of the situation.
I continued working, found enjoyment in my job during pregnancy and went back to work after those precious first 12 weeks. When I got there, I still loved and enjoyed my job, but I dreamed of being at home with our daughter. My mom watched our daughter for the first few months and then my husband took over once his student teaching was complete. I hated saying goodbye, as I would leave our apartment listening to our daughter crying. It broke my heart that I was leaving her in tears. Although I was glad to be supporting our family financially, I wanted to be home. A few months later, my husband got his first teaching job and I became a stay at home mom. Having experienced how leaving her everyday felt, I now relished my new role at home. I soaked up every nap time snuggle, walk around the neighborhood and got to witness almost all her firsts. I’m so thankful to have skills and experience I can use in other areas of life from my time working, but being at home with my children full-time is my true calling. But wait… they grow up.
Now, my sweet daughter is four and heading off to preschool next week. She is so ready for it. I’m almost certain I will be the one crying while I drive away and she will be jumping into this new adventure with enthusiasm and joy. There are so many mixed emotions. I want her to become a strong, independent girl. I want her to learn everything she can about the world. I know she can do virtually anything she sets her mind to and I want to give her the tools to do this. However, her need for me is diminishing and that’s hard. She doesn’t need me by her side all day, she is ready for a new challenge. She is spunky, sassy, curious, strong-willed, confident and sweet. Right now she wants to be an astronaut (thank you, eclipse), a member of the coast guard and a doctor. I know sending her off to school will give her the best chance to achieve her dreams. I’m so excited to see her grow, learn and develop into a little lady. My first baby is getting ready to say goodbye and she is ready to conquer the world. The real question is, am I ready?
Maybe I’ll always have flashbacks of saying goodbye, walking out of my apartment hearing my sweet baby cry, but hopefully I will see the bigger picture. Maybe I will remember that she is going to do big things in this world and I get the opportunity to witness that firsthand.