One mother’s choice of walking away from her career to rear her child.
It felt like opening my eyes to the sun for the first time. As the light of realization poured in, I felt the warmth in my soul. My eyes welled, as tears of fulfillment and peace rested on my lower lids like you rest content in my arms. My connection to you has never felt stronger, pulling on my heart and bringing a feeling that there is no analogy for, only the experience one has to have had to understand.
Postpartum has brought many things: sleep deprivation, joy, anxiety, love, and pain. One of the most significant sources of anxiety and depression was the thought of going back to work after 12 short weeks home after giving birth. I realize that I am lucky to have had a full 12 weeks with you instead of the typical 6, but the thought of leaving you pains me worse than bringing you into this world did. My head and heart clash against one another. The societal demand and practicality of returning to the work force to make money in a job I had fought so hard to acquire. The emotional and primal desire to stay at home with you and help you take your first steps, say your first words, and watch in amazement as you achieve your milestones one day at a time. This internal battle has raged like titans inside me for weeks. Sometimes I shove it aside and avoid coming to terms with it. Sometimes I lay awake at night as you slumber beside me and obsess about my imminent decision.
Today is the day, and right now the moment, that I decide to give up the career path I had created for myself so that I can be with you as you create your own path. Eleven simple words on a mommy blog post changed everything for me: “Child life specialist by trade, stay at home mom by choice.” Choice. This is my choice, not society’s. I am choosing to give my notice at a job I got a scant year ago. I am choosing to walk away from the shaming of mothers who decide to give up everything to stay at home. I am choosing the most challenging job there is, the one of raising another person to be kind, loyal, and strong. I am choosing to create a new life for myself, thus giving birth twice this summer, once to you, and once to my newfound passion for helping new mothers in their journey to a fulfilled motherhood.
As you coo and grunt happily on my chest, I watch the rise and fall of your back and feel at peace. I kiss your forehead very lightly so as to not wake you. Life has never felt more right for me. As I tear up again, this time in awe of the love I feel for such a small and helpless creature, I know in my heart that there really was no other choice for me to make after all.
An abbreviated version of this article was originally selected as an essay winner for the Transitional Seasons of Motherhood contest in Tribe Magazine. The article can be found here.