I actually never really knew the term “stay-at-home mom” existed until I became one. With over 10 years of professional experience under my belt, the moment I became a mom I knew with no doubt in my mind that I would not be going back to my job after my leave of absence expired. Because I was 34 at the time and had already experienced a lot professionally, all I wanted was to devote my time, passion and energy to this new task of being a mom. I really wanted to “be” it and not miss out on that experience. Without knowing, that decision immediately slapped on me the label of a “stay-at-home mom.”
In full disclosure, I was financially able to make that decision at that time. Not every woman has the option to make the choice or take the risk to let go of a profitable career in order to take care of their children. Yes, I became a SAHM by choice and knew the risks involved, but could care less about them.
In Sheryl Sandberg’s terms, I leaned in to my role as a new mom with all my might. I was oblivious to any criticism that could come my way or any feeling of pobrecita (“poor thing”), she has no clue how hard it will be for her to bounce back professionally. And “they” were right. I had no clue, but, I repeat, I could have cared less.
For almost two years, and even when things got really bad in my marriage and financially, I devoted myself to being a SAHM. I never once felt guilt or regret because the task at hand was way more important than making sure Pitbull’s latest TV show was an on-air hit. I also couldn’t fathom the idea of having to report to an office environment with two hours of sleep and having my head somewhere else — like wanting to know if my girl had finally spoken her first word and torturing myself if she spoke it to her nanny first. I knew what a fabulous TV career looked like; I had no idea what motherhood tasted like, and I wanted to relish in it.
But that was my prerogative. It was my decision to be a SAHM and live through the awful and crappy days and get lovey-dovey over the beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime moments that no one will ever be able to take away from us.
After almost two years I finally hit that wall where I just had to start working again, both out of extreme financial need and out of my own personal need. At around 18 months I made the decision to take my daughter to a family daycare twice a week so I could have a few hours to figure out just what I would do with my life at that point. I started feeling the need to express myself and use the full potential I had, but now with a renewed purpose and mission. This is when I started SpanglishBaby.com with the full intent of it one day becoming the “thing” I do. At that moment I started treading between the SAHM and the work-at-home mom labels. I was somewhere in between: a SAHM that desperately wanted to become a WAHM. Honestly, all these labels and acronyms meant nothing to me back then, it’s just in the past few years that I’ve realized I “belonged” to these subcultures to define the undefinable roles of motherhood.
A few years passed and all of a sudden my daughter was full time in preschool and I had successfully launched a new and profitable career in social media that allowed me to work from home and to also own my time, in the sense that I could theoretically work from anywhere and manipulate my time. Case in point: I’m writing this post from El Salvador where my daughter and I are visiting our family during her spring break. I’m still working, but I’m not really home, I’m not in an office, I’m not 100% on vacation, but I’m productive both in my work and in my role as a giving and caring mom.
Now that my online and consulting businesses are growing, I keep making decisions based on the lifestyle I envision for myself and my family. I could care less about the so-called “Mommy Wars” and all the accusing, blaming, finger pointing, and general deconstructivism going around. I’ve made all my motherhood and career decisions based solely on what’s right for my daughter, my husband and myself, and that’s all every single women should care about when it comes to parenting.
But if I’m going to get very real here, ultimately, the decisions are made on what’s best for me. Yes, hate me for being selfish, but I’m so selfish I don’t care. I don’t care because it took me a long time and a spiritual path to finally come to terms that I had to put the oxygen mask on myself first. That the last thing I want is to sacrifice my own needs and mission in this life to become a woman my daughter won’t look up to or respect. I need to be that role model for her. The role model of a women that only needs her own inner strength and light to guide her. A woman that knows that there’s no way to receive without giving and vice-versa, but that to give, your own vessel needs to be full.
I’m joining the conversation about the “Mommy Wars” only to say that you can’t count on me to judge you; you can count on me to support you.
See more on this discussion here on HLN’s Raising America:
We’re continuing this conversation all this week, because we want that lasting peace, dammit. Read more posts on this subject in this section all week (you can start with Catherine’s kick-off post.) And tune in to HLN’s Raising America (12:30 EST) to watch The Mommy Wars: the Peace Talks, a 5 day collaboration with HLN’s Raising America aimed at wrestling this so-called ‘war’ into peaceful submission.
For more on ‘leaning in’, and for buckets of inspiration toward being intentional and empowered in our choices (motherhood-related or otherwise) and our lives (including inspiring stories from many Babble bloggers that you know and love), visit the Lean In community. And maybe join the Lean In community. It’s a movement for all of us.