There are so many emotions I went through once I decided to be a full-time caregiver: joy and elation about witnessing my child’s every milestone, joy and elation about not having to drag myself back to the office, and on and on and on. It seemed only happy emotions early on. I am totally embarrassed to admit that I thought it was going to be easier to stay home than to be at the office, and that I’d be able to have time for myself throughout the day. Boy, that was a steep and painful learning curve.

So, after the sleep deprivation and reality kicked in, I started to feel fear that I was making the right decision, fear about cutting back our spending enough to keep us afloat, and fear that I would have a career to go back to once the little ones were off to school. After working in an office environment, I hadn’t realized how accustomed I had become to being given direction and praise from my managers. As a stay-at-home parent there are no managers, deadlines, annual reviews. Nothing. There is no road map. You are suddenly the expert on your child and family, and if you are like I was, you had no idea what you were doing and if you were doing it right. Once I started to think of being home as my job and giving myself goals and deadlines, I felt much better about things. To this day, I like to think I am sharpening my management skills. I even ask my husband/parenting partner for feedback on my ‘performance’ because, for me, it is a way to stay accountable and also stay open to receiving criticism.

If you’re wondering why I say ‘I’m Sorry’ in the title, it’s because once you make that transition to full-time parent, you lose a huge amount of respect from the professional world and in a way you become invisible. I struggled with it immensely at first. My identity was tied to my work. That was all I knew. Once I didn’t have work, I tied my identity to my daughter, but that was not sustainable. It has been a few years now, but I’ve learned the difference between the roles in my life and my identity, and I keep them separate. But nonetheless, I am sorry that our society does not value the role of the stay-at-home parent and that you are suddenly uninteresting because you don’t work outside the home. I don’t let it bother me anymore. I know I am working my ass off. I know I am still interesting. And most importantly, I know my family and friends value me.

What is/was your biggest learning as a new stay-at-home parent?

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