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Entries in stay-at-home mom (2)


The Mommy Accords: Going from Working Mom to Stay-at-Home Mom

At first they said it wouldn’t happen. Then they said it would never last.

Yet here I am, one year after submitting my resignation to the corporate America and I’m still loving life as a stay-at-home mom.  

After working for 13 years at the same medical clinic, first as a receptionist, then later the Assistant Administrator, then ultimately as the Practice Administrator, I honestly never imagined I’d quit my job career. I loved it. I hired many of the 50+ employees and they were family to me. I worked very hard to make the clinic a place where patients could obtain care every day of the year. I took pride in being able to interview a skeptical physician who couldn’t picture himself working on weekends (hadn’t done that since residency after all), and turning him into a physician employee who championed patient access above all else. My husband and I even bought our house within one mile of the clinic so we’d be close to our jobs. Forever. Healthcare wasn’t just my job; it was my passion.

Then things changed. After a long and trying journey, I finally got pregnant (yeah!). Similarly, after a long and trying journey, Congress passed Health Insurance reform. Politics aside, the reality became that smaller, independent clinics are a thing of the past and ultimately must join with larger hospital systems in order to continue accepting Medicare patients. Between the birth of my son and the inevitable changes to health care delivery, I gave serious consideration to my future. 

It was very difficult for me to even consider quitting my job. In fact, I lost nearly 10 pounds in the two weeks leading up to my resignation (I played the noticeable weight loss off as finally having “gotten serious about losing the baby weight”). As the director of the largest Family Practice clinic in Southwest IL, I had become very involved in the community. I routinely attended political, educational and business forums. Even with an 18-month old son at home, I spent a few nights a week outside the home at various events related to my job as well as my position on a local Board of Directors. 

My point is, I always considered myself a working professional and never a stay at home mom. Other people viewed me that way, too. So when circumstances changed and I began wanting to stay home, I feared the reactions of others. People who had helped me achieve professional success-- what would they think? I can handle a lot of things, but disappointing others ranks among the top on my list of things I strive to avoid. The achiever in me doesn’t allow that. 

Ultimately, though, my fear of disappointing my son overwhelmed me. Work had changed so much for me (due to a corporate transition) that even when I was at home, I wasn’t present. I wasn’t fun. Ryan and Craig weren’t enjoying my company. That realization sealed the deal for me. After that, the decision was easy to make. 

I’ll always remember my 32rd birthday as the day I left corporate America; that’s the day I resigned. Five weeks later, I walked out the clinic door and haven’t looked back. 

No one is more surprised than me at how much I enjoy being home. My Type-A to-do-list personality excels at home just as much as it did in the office. The day-to-day rewards others seek through employment are evident everyday in my life as a mom. 

Something I’m very proud of throughout this transition from professional laborer to SAHM is that I’ve seemed to maintain the same level of respect from others; in some cases, I even sense more reverence. If I’m being honest, I feared that others would view me much differently as a SAHM, and not in a good way. I envisioned whispers of “I can’t believe she’s only going to stay at home” or “such a waste of talent.” I thought conversations would revolve solely around childhood developmental milestones and the surprisingly variable shades and consistency of baby poop.  

The reality couldn’t be more different. People, while still kindly asking how my little guy is doing, engage me just as fully as they previously did. In fact, conversations now involve more than just healthcare. Maybe as an employed professional, others limited their interactions with me to mainly medically related topics. The flood gates have opened and now no discussion point is off-topic. 

Case in point: a local school district was asked to invite two community leaders to represent them at an intense retreat aimed at tackling the budget deficit facing our schools. I’ve been told I was the first person they called (the other community leader, as it turns out, was a project manager for a Fortune-500 company in St. Louis). 

My first thought was, “don’t they know I’m just a stay-at-home mom?” 

Apparently that doesn’t matter much to them. I’m still respected as a bright, effective, contributing member of society. 

What I can’t figure out is: was the stigma shattered years ago and it was my own perception of SAHM moms that feared my social demise? Or, does some stigma still exist and in my own way, I’ve (inadvertently) advanced social perceptions of the unemployed domestic engineer? 

To those who ask, I always recommend making the change to SAHM if it’s within their family’s ability. We’ve made changes to accommodate the decreased income, but the satisfaction and happiness we have is worth every material sacrifice. The other night at a social outing, a friend told me that I look like I’d lost weight. When I assured her I haven’t (trust me on this), she commented that maybe I look thinner because I’m so happy. “But I’m always happy,” I said. Her response? “I know. Yet you’re somehow happier than I’ve ever seen you.” 

~ Jessica Lotz lives just outside St. Louis, MO with her husband and 2 year old son but rarely cross the mighty Mississippi River into the city. Her family completes her life, but NFL football and traveling fill in the gaps nicely. She is married to a clinical psychologist and doesn't own an iPhone nor is she on Facebook. Judge accordingly.


The Mommy Accords

The Mommy Wars—stay-at-home moms vs. working moms in a fight to the finish over which decision is best. According to many a front page feature, this is the only topic of conversation between modern moms. Well, due to a recent (and exciting!) career change, the modern moms of Salt & Nectar have found ourselves on both sides of the battlefield with stay-at-home mom in Kentucky and a working mom in California. There’s only one small problem.

We’re not fighting.

What we are doing is talking (a lot) about the good, the bad, and the ugly of each of our roles and we wanted to do the same with you. We call it The Mommy Accord and the premise is simple. We will each respond openly and honestly to a prompt from each of our unique perspectives. No guessing what the other “side” is feeling or apologizing if our choices offend someone else. There won’t be any controversial covers or screaming headlines, only a stay-at-home mom and a working mom talking to each other – and all of you – about their lives.

What I love about being a…

...stay-at-home mom.

I recently read a brilliant and touching commencement speech by Patti Digh entitled The Geography of Verbs. At the beginning of the speech, Ms. Digh tells the story of a touching moment from The Oprah Winfrey Show that (not surprisingly) I remember very well. During a show on grief, Oprah interviewed Kate Collinger, a young girl who had recently lost her mother to cancer. Oprah asked Kate her favorite memory of her mother. Despite the family taking big vacations and trips to Disneyland, Kate recalled a bowl of Cheerios she had shared with her mother in the middle of the night.

In her speech, Ms. Digh called them the bowls of Cheerios in your life – quiet moments shared with those you love. As I read her speech, I realized those moments are what I love most about being a stay-at-home mom.

I always imagined the best part of staying home with your children would be witnessing those milestone moments – your child’s first step or first word. Little did I know it’s hard to pinpoint their actual first step or first word – not to mention I’m often too busy trying to document those moments to enjoy them.

No, I love the everyday moments that aren’t unique or momentous: the way Amos’s face lights up when I pick him up from his nap, talking with Griffin over lunch and then playing an impromptu game of Candyland, watching the boys giggle together over a silly made up game.

Feeling the magic of those moments, I know why young Kate enjoyed that middle of the night snack so much. There is an intimacy is sharing the everyday – the mundane– with the people you love most in the world even especially if those people are your children. It transforms something as simple as a bowl of Cheerios into something special.

THAT is what I love about being a stay-at-home mom.

...working mom.

Since becoming a mom, I've worked full-time at a law firm, then stayed at home to care for my son, followed by working at home as a Jane of All Trades and consultant, next as a part-time attorney, and now as a full-time employee at a start up company. Needless to say, my work has taken many forms in the past three years. And throughout it all, I realized that I loved (and sometimes missed) the collaborative process of working with my peers.

I was especially aware of this once my son started school. Staying at home alone, without my Little Dude to spend my day with, sometimes proved isolating and uninspiring. So, I've enjoyed returning to an environment where there is a lot of creative energy and passion generated by working with a team. I really love sitting down with my colleagues to brainstorm novel social media or editorial content, refining it, creating it, and seeing it come to life. Acting as a contributing member in this larger procress makes me feel productive, energized, and inspired. Plus, it's great to have more social intereaction with adults. How else would I learn about the literary importance of reading 50 Shades of Grey or finding the best dessert spot in town?