By Nicole Loughan
Three years ago I woke up in a fog and said, “Who am I?” I quit my full-time job, as the head of a department with over 100 employees reporting to me, to stay at home with my children.
It was something I never thought I would do. I was a career woman. I went to college to build a career. I made all of the smart choices when I chose where to work and build my resume. When I quit my fifty hour a week job I only saw sleeping in and watching my daughter grow up, but I was not prepared for the jarring reality of becoming, “just a mom.”
The first morning I didn’t have to get out of bed and get dressed for work was not sweet. It was sad. I watched the clock, thinking right now I would be picking up coffee with my friend before the meeting. Then I thought, right now I would be checking my messages and going through these reports. As the day went on I e-mailed my old work friends asking them about their day and how things were without me.
I stayed in contact with my work friends for far too long, living in both worlds, seeing what crazy thing somebody said in a meeting.
I moved from the working world of lunches and meeting with grownups to the world of parks, and libraries with other kids and never having conversations with other adults without interruptions.
In the midst of my crisis I went out to dinner with a friend, who was once a very successful banker, and talked to her about my identity crisis. She had gone through it too, many years before me and I begged of her does it get any better? She said, “yes and no. It all depends on what you do with it.”
I bring it up today because it seems to be on the minds of moms everywhere. Who are we now that we are moms? When I go to play groups and when I go to moms nights out I meet with women who are struggling with who they are too.
One of my friends was once a high powered attorney, another a wildly successful real-estate agent, another earned her masters degree in English literature and all of them stepped off of their career tracks to stay home with their children. One of my friends recently suggested that she thinks her expensive education would have been better used on somebody who was still working.
Another mother, who never earned a degree, told me she always felt like people looked down on her because she wasn’t as educated as they were.
They were both struggling with their past choices and whether or not they should have made them, knowing what they know now. I can completely relate as somebody still paying for student loans on a degree I’m not using.
It was only recently, three years after quitting my job, that I have started to figure out who I am. In order to do it I had to schedule some time for myself. It took a lot of convincing for me to leave the house and start exploring again. I felt guilt for doing something just for me. But I find if I’m happier my kids are happier. So give yourself permission to get out there and find out who you are:
Get out of the house alone – For the longest time I would only go out with my kids and I was too tired by the time they fell asleep to go out with friends. Now that my children are older, and not babies anymore I am more comfortable leaving them for hours with sitters or my husband.
Find a work-out that you like – I go to a gym with childcare. For up to two hours a day I can work out all by myself while my kids get to play with other kids. I found a Pound class at my local gym and Body Combat and have a great time working out and chatting with other people after class. I always feel great about myself afterwards and have more energy to play with my children.
Do something you always wanted to do – I used to love music. I played an instrument in my high school band and participated in choir. I never did anything with music as an adult, but when a friend joined a local choir and invited me along I had a great time. I joined the choir and I’m now a regular member. One of my other mom friends recently started a painting class, quite a change from attorney. My sister-in-law who lives in a rural area with no choir sings every night using the App Smule, occasionally we duet.
Do something on the side (if you want to) – There is no rule that says you can’t do some sort of work. I like writing so I write. I also get paid for it, bonus! But you don’t have to do paid work. You can write blogs, you can bake for bake sales, you can volunteer.
Do anything you want that helps you form an identity that you like. I’m a mom, friend, writer, singer and Pound fitness enthusiast. Who are you?