No, this isn’t speaking religiously. By B.C., I mean “before children,” of course. Most of my friends here did not know me in my B.C. life. The majority of them I didn’t know before they had children either. A lot of us “gave up” our careers to be stay-at-home moms or maybe aren’t working in the field we were educated in because we want to have more time with our children. Or we moved here because of our husbands’ school, job, etc. I meet moms like this every day, so don’t think that this only applies to a small clique here. Face it, now we are known as “someone’s mom” and it is sometimes surprising to find out what we all did before we were moms!
Hints of our past lives are often mentioned in passing conversation. “When I was in vet school, I used to…” What?! You’re a vet?? Then someone else volunteers to keep the books for the PTA and you find out she is an accountant. Really? Who knew? As it turns out, I have a lot of very diversely educated friends that had a lot of really cool jobs. Some people are surprised to find out I used to be a government contractor and traveled all over the country monitoring pediatric HIV clinical trials for the National Institutes of Health. I also used to be on a pit crew for a race team. I know, right?
I am not saying I don’t have friends (mom friends included) who still work in their profession and have really cool, important jobs — I do. But the ones, like myself, who have chosen to stop working to raise their children can’t imagine being anything other than a mom. Since leaving the clinical research world nine and a half years ago, I have worked in many capacities. I am a mom, which is work enough, but I have also worked as a child care worker at my children’s preschool, so most people assumed I was a teacher. I actually just had a really hard time leaving my kids (stalker mom!), so it made sense for me to be in the same place at the same time. OK, it also made my hubby really happy that I made enough to offset the cost of tuition! Now I also work for Giggle, which is of course a job, but not my “career,” and honestly it is almost too fun for work!
While we’re on the subject, Dads are funny this way too. How many of you out there actually know what your friends’ husbands do? Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention, but I am often surprised to find out that a friend of mine’s husband is a Ph.D. … Dr. Ferrell, really? I’ve known the man for seven years, and I found out from my 11-year-old son who was writing him a thank you note for speaking to his class! Sad. Another friend of mine’s husband could have very well created some compound that cures cancer, but to me he is “baby Lane’s dad.” Let’s not forget “Zoe’s Dad” who is actually a world-known paleontologist that has actually discovered and named previously unknown species! I always feel like Joey from “Friends” when I tell someone that he does “dinosaurs.”
So what is the point of all of this? Well, I know that what we all fear is losing who we are. When we are young adults, we work very hard for our education, careers and identities. When we get married and have children we want to still be “us,” but we change so much it’s hard to remember the girls we were in college. I know I thought I could continue to work when I had my first. That lasted one week after my maternity leave ended. I was getting nothing done working from my home office while my husband worked from his, and the baby was home with us. So, I made the best decision I ever have, and I quit to be a full-time mom. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to do this, although I will admit I was afraid and the transition was rocky at times. We build our worlds around our children and we do lose some of ourselves in doing so. I think that’s OK, and the sooner you realize that, the better off you will be. Who cares if you aren’t as cool as you were as a working professional? Your children certainly don’t. What they care about is that you are there to read to them and take them to the park.
The way I look at it is that we have 18 years, if we are lucky, to teach our children to be successful, happy adults. I’ve got plenty of time to work when they leave the nest. They will only be little for a short time, and we can never get these days back. Along the way they will enjoy learning about who we are outside of being their parents and all that our life experiences can teach them about the world.