I Gave Up My Career When I Had Kids, & I Have Zero Regrets
I'd wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. When my friends in middle school were interested in talking about boys and how many kids they'd have when they grew up, I was memorizing the Miranda rights. While my sorority sisters were living it up during Greek Week, I was studying for the LSATs. I spent years working towards and achieving my goal of becoming a divorce attorney, only to walk away from my career without a backward glance once my kids were born.
I had always planned on having kids, and having those kids attend daycare. When my partner and I purchased our first home before I was even pregnant with my twins, we were thrilled to find a highly rated daycare close to the house and the highway. Early in my pregnancy we toured the facility and even paid a non-refundable deposit to hold two slots for our children in the infant room. My plan was to have my baby boys, enjoy a few weeks of maternity leave, and go back to work without missing a beat. Friends scoffed at my pro-daycare attitude, telling me I may feel differently once my babies were born, but I was certain that this was what I wanted and what was best for my family.
As a lawyer, I spent time working both administratively within the court system and as a practicing attorney. At the risk of sounding conceited, I was good at it. I thrived on the endless amounts of work and really felt that I was helping people through a difficult period in their lives. I was organized, I could multitask, and I knew how to negotiate good deals for my clients. Other attorneys came to me for advice on complex cases. Established attorneys offered my jobs. I was a living Elle Woods, and I loved every second of it.
But six months into my pregnancy, everything changed.
Instead of the short maternity leave I had planned on, my pregnancy became complicated and I was put on bed rest at 27 weeks. My twin boys were born a bit prematurely at 33 weeks and spent a little time in the NICU before coming home. I was still a few weeks away from my due date when my boss called with bad news. My maternity leave time was up, and although he'd hoped to keep my position open, I had to either come back to work now, or lose the job.
With two preemies that weren't old enough for daycare yet, a C-section scar that was still raw and postpartum hormones giving me a rainbow of emotions, I did what seemed like the only option at the time: I left the job but told myself that as soon as the boys were old enough and strong enough for daycare, I'd pull on my heels and get back in the game.
That was almost three years ago.
Nowadays, my once-razor sharp negotiating skills are used to try and convince my kids to take a nap, and I'm sad to say my success rate is abysmal. Every time I purge my closet another power suit seems to disappear into the donations bag, and the last time I wore my lucky pearls was during a tea party where I say next to a stuffed platypus.
I never planned on being a stay-at-home mom (and I have the outstanding student loans to prove it) but as it turns out, I love being at home making block towers with my kids more than I love working out the finer points of a custody arrangement. I never thought it'd be the case prior to being a parent, but I feel fulfilled with my role. I don't go to bed wishing I'd made different choices in my life, and I wake up happy to spend the day with my kids.
I'm incredibly fortunate to have the privilege to even choose to stay home with my children, and that many parents would love to do the same but can't because their family needs the income their job provides. On the days when I look at the toy-strewn living room and wish I still had a tidy office, I try to remember that I'm lucky to have the opportunity to stay home. I remind myself to enjoy the time I have with my kids because one day they'll grow up and not want to been seen with me in public, let alone snuggle up on my lap for a story.
There are times when I wonder what kind of example I'm setting for my sons by not working full-time outside the home. I want to raise my children to be feminists, and I worry that I'm setting a bad example by not working. I'm hopeful they'll realize that a woman making the choice to stay home is just as empowering as pursuing a career.
Although I don't know if or when I'll ever go back to being a practicing attorney, there are moments when I miss it. My kids have difficult days where I try and fail not to yell at them and I wonder if we all need a break from each other. I still get the occasional request for advice from an old colleague, and dipping my toes back into those waters feels so good that I'm tempted to dive right back in.
I know some people will look and me and think I'm "just" a stay-at-home mom, and that's frustrating. There are times when I'm being talked down to by a repair man or ignored by a sales clerk when I want to point out that despite my yoga pants and messy bun I once wrote a brief that won a state Supreme Court case, for crying out loud.
Nevertheless, for now I'm content with my decision to focus wholly on my family over my career. If the only robe I ever wear is my fluffy purple bathrobe, I can live with that.
Images: Courtesy of Megan Zander (2), Giphy (1)