Guest post by Zoey from Good Goog
In a little more than two months I will be stopping work entirely. No more working from home, no more going into the office once a week. Finished. I've worked my whole life. And although I'd planned to take 6 months off when Riley was born, I ended up taking just 3 months off because the idea of working from home was just too tempting.
And as excited as I am about not constantly having my attention pulled in a million different directions, I know it's a big change. There are all sorts of words to describe mothers who choose not to work.
Full-time mother. I don't like it. All mothers are full-time mothers. It also makes it sound as though I'm completely defined by motherhood which I'm also not keen on.
Stay-at-home-mother. Also, not a big fan. It makes it sounds like I have some impediment which stops me from leaving the house.
Home-maker. Not used that often in Australia, but I couldn't even say this one out loud without laughing and/or vomiting.
There are a whole range of reasons why I'm making the choice. The primary motivation is that I am personally against using institutional child care until Riley is at least three. It's also a lifestyle choice for us. A division of labour thing. So that we're not running around before and after work organising pick ups or having to do all of our shopping and errands on the precious weekend. But also, it's really an emotional decision. I don't want to miss anything. And being away for one day at the moment when I go to work is about as much as I am willing to do. We've only had two nights apart since she was born and I can't say that I really cared for either of them.
I'm in the position of knowing what I'm getting myself in for, at least. Although I've been working, the vast majority of it is done from home. The biggest misconception about being a stay at home parent is that it is unfulfilling, boring and not stimulating enough intellectually. And I'm sure there are plenty of loving parents who feel that way. But I just didn't. Which was as much a surprise to me as anyone. It was quite a shock to find out that I found looking after a baby (or now a toddler) far more interesting, stimulating and just plain fun than doing my paid work. That I found just as much reward from baking bread in the morning and cleaning the house during patches of quiet play or napping as I did from my career. And the joyful discovery of everyday with a little one far surpassed anything I had experienced in my former life.
Of course, not every day is like that. Sometimes the whining never ends. And the house is a mess. And there are no naps. And I'm exhausted. And I dread going to the supermarket because I'm not sure I can cope with another tantrum. But that's all part of why it is so rewarding.
But I'm not going to kid myself — it's still a big life change for me. I'll have to work out what to say when people ask me 'what do you do?' I can see what it's like to live without deadlines for awhile. And I can do everything I want to do without feeling like my contribution to home and to work are equally substandard. I've felt for some time that something had to give with my writing as well — either I was going to need to scale it back or I would need to stop working and see if it turned into anything. I'll have run out of excuses, too. At the moment my response to demands are often 'when I stop working…' We'll see how true that is. Because we all know the whole line about stay at home mothers' not working is a little ridiculous.
Zoey is a reformed perfectionist, writer, parent adventurer, toddler wrangler, social media addict, photo enthusiast and book devourer. She blogs in words and pictures at Good Goog.