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the mommyhood memos: how i became a pediatrician turned stay-at-home mom

Saturday, September 11, 2010

how i became a pediatrician turned stay-at-home mom

By Melissa, author of Confessions of a Dr. Mom

{This post is part of the Moms Who Work series.}

{melissa aka dr. mom}
Becoming a Stay at Home Mom...I wonder how many of us SAHMs set out to do this from the get go? For me, it was sort of accidental. I kind of fell in to this glorious position. I never imagined my life would take this unexpected course and yet, I cannot imagine it any other way.

And isn't that how Motherhood is anyway? The unexpected. The ways your children shape and redefine you. After having my son, my firstborn, it seemed nothing else was quite as important. Becoming a mother changed me to the core.

I had a job waiting for me once my maternity leave was up and with that looming over me, I felt dread. I was dreading the day I'd have to take my son somewhere else to be taken care of.

That dread led me to continually delay my return. My employer was nothing but gracious and gave me more than enough time. Still, in the end, I just couldn't do it. My heart was at home with my baby. That I could not deny anymore. It was my first (of many) lessons on listening to my Mommy Instinct.

So after months of not knowing exactly when I would return, I finally made the decision. I just wanted to be home with my baby. That's it. Of course, it was not that simple. I felt immense guilt over this decision. First, I had put off my employer for months only to tell him in the end..."sorry, no thanks, I'm going to stay home". Secondly, my would I break this news to him?

I had been getting by with "soon...maybe next month". Now I was faced with having to have the discussion. I was almost embarrassed to admit that after years of school, training, devotion to one thing that I wanted to set all that aside. I had no idea how he would respond. I mean we did have bills to pay, not to mention an inordinate amount of medical school loans.

Thankfully, bless his heart, he has been nothing but supportive. Five and a half years later and Little Sister added to the mix, we have somehow made this work. It took me awhile to finally admit that I was in fact a SAHM. Not that I was ashamed to be, I just never thought of myself as one before then.

But there I was at play dates, mom's clubs, and little gym classes meeting other Moms. It finally hit me, yes I am a Stay at Home Mom so I better start acting like one. What I mean by that is, up until then, I felt like I still had one foot out the door. That my time at home was temporary. All I had to do was get through the baby stage.

I finally realized...this is my job now. This is what I do so I better start getting good at it. It didn't come naturally to me. All my schooling and training didn't even come close to preparing me for Motherhood. Yes, the Pediatrician part of me knew how to recognize illnesses, what to do for certain injuries, but it did not prepare me for the unexpected in parenting. This is something no book can teach.

Now that I have fully embraced my role as stay at home mom, I truly love it. I would not have it any other way. It's not easy and I'm not guilt free over this decision. However, I feel blessed to have the choice. I consider it a privilege to have this time with my children. I already see how fleeting their childhood is and that soon enough I will be back to my career.

Nonetheless, doubt creeps in from time to time. I wonder how my Doctor Mom friends view my decision to stay home. I often feel I am left behind in that aspect. But in the end, I know in my heart this is how it was meant to be. Do I know where I will be in 5 years? No, not really. My hope is that I will have made my way back to the world of working Pediatrician. But I honestly don't know.

The one thing I do know is...I am here now. Exactly where I should be. Being home with my children trumps any negative feelings I have of leaving my career behind. I like to think of it this way: I have a very private and exclusive pediatric practice of two. These two adorable and rambunctious kiddos are my 'on the job training' in more ways than one. They are teaching me more than I could ever have hoped for.

Bio: As pediatrician turned stay-at-home mom, Melissa of Confessions of a Dr. Mom has learned that parenting rarely plays out like in the textbooks. She blogs about the universal issues of Motherhood... just with a slight Dr. Mom twist.

For further reading in this series:

Dear mommy-friends, how about those of you who are SAHMs? Did you "fall" into being a SAHM or was it something you had always dreamed of? When you made your decision, did you struggle with guilt like Melissa describes? Do you now? And for all of you moms - working at home or away - what about that Mommy Intuition she speaks of? Do you have it? Recognize it? Listen to it? Tell us how.

also endeavoring to be guilt-free,

P.S. Don't forget to stop by Confessions of a Dr. Mom!

Have you registered your blog here yet?

adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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At September 11, 2010 at 12:04 AM , Blogger AndreaLeigh said...

great post! yes, it is difficult to leave your child and return to work. I wish I had the means to stay at home but I don't, so I do the best I can with working.

stopping by from sits to say hello!

At September 11, 2010 at 12:50 AM , Blogger Kerry McCullough said...

Ugh, guilt is the worst! I wish I could tell you not to feel it, just to ignore it, but I'm right there with you. I know that I shouldn't feel it and I know that my friends and family support me, but I still have that little bit of anxiety about it in the back of my head. Just remember, all of that studying and hard work you went through will creep into your new job- it's not wasted!

At September 11, 2010 at 1:23 AM , Blogger Ana said...

I had a tough time transitioning from full time college student/extern x-ray tech to a stay at home mom. But it was something that I longed to do! Not necessarily "from the beginning" but after watching my colleagues put their children in day care at 4 months old...listen to the gripe about "I have to work to pay for daycare" hubs and I sat down and discussed how the future would work if I didn't. I'm blessed to have my hubs!

The friends that I graduated with were far from supportive, saying that I was wasting my degree on a baby, but now they're all pregnant and experiencing the same vacillation I did. I can offer them advice now, but they're all facing the same struggle of "stay with babooshka or go back to lookin' at bones?" They'll do what's right for their little families, and in the end, that's all that matters.

I wish I had more of that "Mother Intuition"! :D Maybe it will develop more with time...or with two boys?? LOL!

At September 11, 2010 at 1:48 AM , Blogger Carol said...

Great post. What a blessing that she was able to SAH. Motherhood does change our priorities and life goals in a major way...and usually for the better :)

At September 11, 2010 at 2:35 AM , Blogger cooperl788 said...

I really love this post. For me, being a SAHM was something I'd always dreamed about doing, but never thought I would have the opportunity to do. It was fate that we moved out of CA to a place where my husband's income was enough. My family isn't always supportive of our decision, and that makes it hard. And I do feel guilty sometimes, like maybe if I was teaching again, we'd have more money for things that we want for Georgia. But overall, I'm really happy with our choice. Now that I'm home with her every day, I wouldn't want to miss out on all the great changes she makes. And I know my husband feels better at work knowing that I'm the one caring for our child, instilling the values we want in her.

At September 11, 2010 at 3:10 AM , Blogger Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) said...

Thanks for having me here today Adriel. I have been loving your Moms Who Work Series. You are such a caring and thoughtful person. I love your support for other Moms and all the beautiful writing and thoughts that you put out here on your blog. Have a wonderful day Mama!

At September 11, 2010 at 3:37 AM , Anonymous Dalia - Gen X Mom said...

Melissa. I think it is so wonderful that you appreciate being a SAHM, even after your career. Some moms don't realize what they have being able to stay home. It is the most wonderful job in the world. I was lucky enough to do this for a little while but then things changed. I guess I still have part of it (working at home) but that is a whole different story. It just bothers me when SAHM moms don't realize what they have. You are very lucky :)

At September 11, 2010 at 4:12 AM , Blogger JIll said...

This is a great post. I am one who is making the transition to stay at home mom. At this point I still feel that it is temperary which it is. I have taken a leave of absences for a year and then we will have to make the choice again. I already know what I want, we just need to make sure that we can do it. Thanks for a great post.

At September 11, 2010 at 6:17 AM , Blogger AnnaNova said...

thank you for writing this. I really miss the world of stay-at-home, and just BEING with my son. unfortunately, like i like to say when people ask me about going back to work, if i had stayed at home, there wouldnt be a home to stay at. :-) it was heartbreaking, it was hard. i have since been able to move from full-time to less hours and it has been great.
In the end, you are doing what you KNOW is best at this particular time for you and you baby (s). I always try to focus on that and tune the rest of the world out. I choose to define my own "normal" and my own "appropriate".
Have a great weekend!

At September 11, 2010 at 7:18 AM , Blogger A House and Home said...

OK, just found this blog through Confessions of a Dr. Mom, which I also just discovered today. A day of great discoveries. I am a working mom who could never imagine being a stay at home mom until I had my son. Wow, what a change! Motherhood does change your priorities for the better, but it doesn't erase all career ambition altogether unfortunately, for me. It's such a twisted web of pushes and pulls and trying to find the right balance. And a life that is in line with your values. Always good to hear from other people dealing with the same issues!

At September 11, 2010 at 10:37 AM , Blogger Eastlyn and co. said...

Dr. Mom, I applaud you for following your heart. I always wanted to be a SAHM. Our plan was for me to work a couple more years after we got married then start our family with a little financial cushion so I could stay home. I came home from my honeymoon pregnant (well, actually, I went on my honeymoon a little pregnant and didn't know it, but that's a story for another day) and continued to work full time a job that required overnight travel. I was m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e. I quit that job thinking that teaching would be more family friendly & accepted a long-term sub assignment for a year. That took up way more time than 8:30 to 3:00 M-F. I delivered my second child a month after school let out and that's when I decided to stay home. It has been a huge financial struggle for us because we bought a house based on 2 full-time incomes (biggest mistake of my life in retrospect). I've done a little of everything to help out financially: medical transcription from home; watching other children along with my own; part time work at Parent's Day Out. Never enough. Now that my kids are 12 and 14, I just completed nursing school and am heading back to the outside of the home workforce--not by choice, but out of necessity. How I wish I could afford to stay home still. One thing that really bugs me is most of my friends work full-time outside of the home and always have. I don't have a problem with that. What I DO have a problem with is them constantly asking me, "So, when are you going to get a job?" Baby's old enough for day care, you gonna get a job? Both kids are in school now, isn't it time for you to go back to work? UGH! I loved being a SAHM.

At September 11, 2010 at 12:12 PM , Anonymous Maryline said...

There is nothing more wonderful for a mom to be able to follow her instincts. Whether it's work or homework (that's what I call 'what stay-at-home dads or moms do').
I'm still not sure what I really want, to be quite honest.
Always felt I was in the wrong career, so add a child to the equation and finding the perfect new path is near mission impossible -- torn between flexibility, family-friendly, less time at work and a more challenging/rewarding job, a new 'investment' of some sorts to start all over (not sure where!), travels...

It takes a very supportive significant other. And a steady financial plan either way.

At September 11, 2010 at 11:36 PM , Blogger Mommycrat said...

This is a great post which I definitely related to. I've recently returned to work after about 9+ months parental leave and it was hard! I never thought I'd like staying at home, but I loved it. It's funny that I was, but I was surprised at home much I loved it.

That said, staying home isn't currently in the financial cards for us - and, while I miss it, I don't know that I could do it long term. That said, I'm thinking I may arrange to have more time off with my next child so I can be home longer with both when they are young. There's the planner in me coming out!

Again - great post!

At September 12, 2010 at 12:27 AM , Blogger Pam said...

Being a SAHM has always been a dream of mine--which is why I honestly can say I don't mind the fact that I went to college for six years and still have no degree. Okay, maybe it bothers me a little, but I wouldn't go back right now for a million bucks!

And I'm still working on 'mommy intuition', moment by moment!

At September 12, 2010 at 6:44 AM , Blogger Becca said...

I am so struggling with guilt feelings right now as we try to start a family. i am in full time ministry, love my job, and we need the paycheck. i'm hoping we can work it out for me to be part time when i have a baby, but the guilt is big time right now. hopefully it will all work out. i just need to learn to trust my mommy intinct, as dr. mom so wisely said.

At September 12, 2010 at 4:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was so beautiful! That is not only my sister but my fellow SAHM. I know the feeling of having to say those words,have that discussion and make it all work. I have learned where there is a will there is a way in our case. Not to say it was easy we definitely do not have the means to splurge on anything BUT with that being said I enjoy my family. There is nothing that can replace these years where I want to be the one they come to when they get hurt, need a shoulder to cry on, all the endless hugs...sighhh..those are mine and I want to be selfish and save them all for mommy and daddy. Cheers to all mommies of the world whatever the circumstance. I have been on both sides so I know how hard it is...though I must say I work more SAH then I did I have my work cut out for me and I LOVE every minute of it!

At September 20, 2010 at 11:18 AM , Blogger Cameron said...

First - OMG I'm a week behind on my commenting!! I've had this saved in my Google Reader to comment on & I've just now gotten a chance! crazy.

I think it is awesome that you decided to stay home & not go back to work. It is definitely a tough decision, but finding what is best for you & your family is so important! For me, it's definitely ended up that I'm going to work, but I'm so happy that I've had time at home with Isis. It is such a blessing to have that time with your kids! I'm sure they love this time with you as well!!


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