I decided I wanted to be a mom when I was five. It was around that time I also decided I wanted to change the world…and become famous. Looking back, it appears I wanted to become some sort of hybrid between June Cleaver and Oprah Winfrey. Daytime television can be pretty influential. With that in mind, I should probably limit my son’s exposure to Paw Patrol. Though if he decides he wants to grow up to be a crime-fighting dog, I promise to always support him.
The dream of being June and Oprah were always an attainable goal. I grew up in a time where women were encouraged to never settle for less, where our futures were bright and (almost) equal. So, for six years I tackled life as Oprah. I completed two post-secondary degrees, engulfed myself in my career and made it a priority to give back to my community. It was during this time I met my husband, a wonderful man who shares my same ambition and values in life, especially when it comes to family. We welcomed our first child a little over a year ago, and that’s when I finally got to experience myself as June.
For awhile, Oprah and June struggled to find balance. Mothering instantly found a tender place in me, yet part of me yearned to be valued outside the four walls of my home. Then the time came for me to leave my sweet boy and return back to the workforce. And while I had every intention of being Oprah and June in unison, my new perspective on life made the transition even harder than I imagined.
For six long weeks I tried to fake it till I made it. Everyone said my son would adjust to daycare – and he did. They said I would find my groove and learn simple ways to make it work – and like Stella, I got my groove back. They also said it would get easier, but it never got easier for me. Actually, those six weeks were some of the hardest weeks of my life.
Those six weeks helped my husband and I define the upbringing we really want for our children. We had endless conversations about what’s truly important to us and what lifestyle we really want to live. Those conversations led to the very significant decision that I would leave my job and become a stay-at-home-mom. A decision that came after much thought and planning on how we would make it work relying on only one income and my freelance work. A decision that came with weeks of analysis and budgeting, and years ahead of sacrifice. With that being said, at the end of the day this decision wasn’t based on numbers (though it was a huge deciding factor), it came down to lifestyle and my feeling of accomplishment.
When making this decision I really struggled with finding the answer to three questions:
Does being home with my family mean I’m not accomplishing my dreams?
Does it make me a lesser person because I couldn’t handle life as a working-mom?
Should I feel worthless because I seek a future with my family and it goes against everything I’ve worked so hard for?
In taking time to soak in this big decision, I’ve realized the answer is no. I’m not saying I won’t go on to be Oprah one day (#RememberMyName), or that I won’t continue to work hard to pursue my dreams as a writer. What I’m saying is that I’m going to be proud of being true to myself, proud to seek a path that makes my family and I truly happy.
At some point all mothers face this cross-road in parenting. We come up for air and realize there will always be something in our life that has to be sacrificed. We must redefine who we are—all with less sleep, clarity and the greatest responsibility that we have ever had to assume. At the very same time we’re constantly questioning if we could be doing it better. We hold guilt over snapping too easily, not engaging the way we think we should, having unwashed dishes in the sink and unfolded laundry in the dryer.
It was living moments like this every single day for six weeks that made my husband and I consider what we really needed versus wanted in our life. If vacations can wait, if cars can be driven into the ground and if I take a crash course in extreme couponing we can each place ourselves in the role we truly want – and for me, that role is mom.