OK, so this is a bit of a personal one…
I’m Ellen, I’m 34, married to my best bud and Mum to our glorious wee boy, Drew.
I’m a certified over sharer. I don’t really think there’s such a thing as too much information – we’re all in this motherhood thing together, right, so why hold back? Not to get too deep at this early stage, but I have dealt with depression and anxiety for nearly a decade and managed it through some very stressful periods (being made redundant; being advised that Drew had a 1 in 5 chance of Down Syndrome; a very difficult pregnancy; amniocentesis; a baby with talipes, lactose intolerance and hyposensitivity; and a very anxious few months when Drew arrived) and I think it’s really solidified my sense of what’s important in life. Hence…
As my maternity leave drew to a close and I saw other mothers returning to their 9-5 I just couldn’t comprehend doing the same. There were various reasons, as I’ve touched on above, that meant Drew still needed me 24/7, but as I weighed up the options I kept coming back to the same realisation…I needed him too.
I was a successful lawyer for a decade before I made the decision to resign from my job to raise Drew. Letting go of the career that had previously defined me was a huge change on so many levels. I’ve gone from doing battle in court and coming out on top to instead facing battles of will against a toddler with no colleagues to console me through my defeat. I’ve gone from having disposable income to having none. Zip. Zero. Thus I’ve had to become creative with everything from days out, to food shopping, to entertaining Drew.
It sort of feels like some dirty secret in a world where achievement is rated in terms of promotion and income…BUT, here’s the truth…I now have access to neither, yet I have never felt more accomplished, more in control of my own path or more fulfilled in what I do. Pre baby I would never have believed that to be possible, but I’m now a huge advocate for women (and men) taking that leap (or more aptly, plummet!) off the career ladder if it’s feasible to do so.
Which brings me to the title of this post. I am more than aware that there are many of you who would give anything to be able to be at home with your babies and that for a lot of us that’s just not an option. So when I talk about the choice I am solely referring to my own choice as I know that I am in a position of privilege to have even been able to consider it, and without the support of my husband there would have been no choice at all.
Obviously it’s not all roses – you find pretty quickly that you lose touch with some people and are left out of things that you would have been invited to automatically in your previous life. You spend 24/7 (almost literally in my case as Drew is a terrible sleeper) in the company of a person who doesn’t even speak your language for the first two years, and you find that the people who do speak your language ask really unhelpful questions like ‘how’s the job hunt going’ because they cannot in any way comprehend that I could have chosen this path or that I’m not going stir crazy (well, not every day). For the most part I focus on the positive aspects of going from career woman to stay at home mum (because otherwise on the low days I’d be in danger of admitting defeat) but I don’t for a second shy away from the realities, the batch cooking, the budgeting, the lack of spare cash and the abundance of caffeine…because I am so proud of the decision I made and I’d love to help encourage others who want to do the same to realise that it can be done.
Before we had Drew I thought I had everything, but having him has taught me more than any degree and given me more than a healthy bank balance ever could. I have never been poorer, nor more exhausted, but I have honestly never been happier…
I choose my choice.