When I was in the eighth grade, my civics teacher did a terribly misguided exercise in which he asked the class to self-identify and divide ourselves into two groups: conservatives and liberals.
As an eighth-grader, I had no idea what either term meant. I asked him where I should go, and he said, “You are undoubtedly liberal” and ushered me over to where only a handful other students stood (I went to a Catholic gradeschool – nearly everyone identified as conservative).
I asked my teacher why he pegged me as a liberal. He replied, “Because you told me the first day of school that you wanted to be the first female president.”
Now, there’s no time to debate his clearly terrible perception of what defines a liberal woman. But he did make a good point: I have always felt that I am destined for an amazing career, and that I will turn heads doing it.
I thought I was going to “make it” one day. Marriage and kids never filtered into my vision of my future – even in the years following my college graduation.
Then I did what so many of us do: I was a fool in love and got married. Then I did what so many of us married people do: I was a fool in love and had a baby.
Even after my maternity leave, I still had big ideas for being a career mother, truly “having it all” by being extremely successful during the week and being a rockstar momma after-hours.
Somehow, as the months passed and my Monster grew and grew, that dream I had of storming Washington started to give way to the pain I felt as I missed so many of the milestones my son was hitting.
For the last year, I have been in a constant battle between clinging to my childhood dreams and wanting to be there to watch my child build his dreams. As I had minor successes at work, I was having major meltdowns at home, especially on Monday mornings when I would take Monster to daycare and he would cling to me and say, “No, Mommy!”
I finally came to the conclusion that work will always be there if I want it. You know what won’t always be there? A toddler eager to hug and kiss his Mommy. A little boy who thinks I am the coolest, funniest person in the whole world. His chubby little cheeks will thin out and his teeny Monster paws will grow, and he won’t need me then the way he needs me now.
And so, last week, I did something I can honestly say my 18-year-old self would have scoffed at: I gave my two weeks’ notice at work, with the reason being that I wanted to be a full-time mother.
Part of me feels like I’m giving up; I had always thought I was Super Woman and could handle working full-time and being the best Mommy in the world.
Part of me is relieved that I’ll get to be the one to raise my child instead of the ever rotating slew of daycare teachers.
And part of me knows that no matter which decision I would have made, it wouldn’t have been easy. That’s just what it means to be a mother; it is one hard decision after another and a lot of laughter and tears in between.
In the days following my resignation, I have often thought of my eighth-grade self, standing on the left side of that classroom, uncertain of how I got there but reminding myself that one day, I WAS going to do something incredible with my life.
To all the mommas out there – working outside the home or not – I do think we’re all doing something incredible. We’re mommies. It’s not an issue of being destined for greatness – we are living it.