Tears rolled down my cheeks as I told my friend I was going back to work full-time. 

I thought I was past this. I thought I had made peace with it.

But the tears on my face tell me otherwise. 

It’s been six years since I’ve worked full-time outside of the house. Six years in which I’ve grown accustomed to being home with my boys all the time (for better or worse).

I’ve enjoyed being able to do laundry during the week instead of all on a Saturday. It’s been wonderful to go grocery shopping first thing in the morning on a weekday and not have to deal with the crazy Saturday shopping crowd. I get to go on coffee dates with my girlfriends and have playdates for my youngest while the oldest is in school. Being home has allowed me a flexible schedule in which I can continue directing theatre at our local elementary school. My family can travel whenever we want and not have to worry about me taking time off from work. It has truly been a blessing. 

But that’s all about to change.

When my oldest was born, I was working full-time outside the home. He would go to daycare every day and I would miss him terribly. I’d pick him up from daycare at the end of the day and our sweet childcare provider would tell me about all the funny and cute things he had done that day. I hated that I missed any of those moments. He even took his first steps at her house. And I missed it. 

So, when I got pregnant with our second child, a strong desire to stay home started to grow within me. When my husband and I realized that if I kept working, my entire salary would go to daycare, we decided I would stay home. If the options were to work and make no money or stay home with my boys and make no money, the answer was a no-brainer. I wanted to be with my boys more than anything. It meant a lot of sacrifices and things were extremely tight financially, but God always provided for us and we made it work. 

When my little guy was one, we made a big move from Illinois to South Carolina. It was quite a change for us, but it was a great one. However, we soon realized in order to survive financially, I would need to work. I dreaded it. I wanted to work from home so I could still care for our boys. God provided the perfect part-time work from home job through a friend of mine from church.

This job has been wonderful. It helps us out financially and has allowed me the flexible schedule I’ve wanted (and needed) over the past four years. Because I work from home, we can go on vacation or visit family and I don’t have to take time off. I just bring it with me. My job is only really busy four months of the year. The rest of the time it’s very slow, which works out well for a stay-at-home mom. 

But we all know things change, and as they say, “All good things must come to an end.” 

I’m at that end. 

We’ve come to the point where we need to buy a new car. There’s also still some debt hanging over our heads we’d like to get rid of once and for all. We’d like to have more of a savings account (who wouldn’t?). And at the top of the list is the fact that my youngest will be starting kindergarten this year. That means both boys will now be in school all day. So we knew it was time for me to get a full-time job outside of the house. 

As I’ve thought about it over the past six months, dread has filled me. My anxiety has been rearing its ugly head more often. While I know it’s necessary for me to go back to work, I’m not ready. 

While a full-time job means a substantial pay increase, it also means a lot of change is imminent. It feels like I’m losing more than I’m gaining and that’s what scares me.

I won’t be able to bring my work with me anytime I go on a trip. I’ll be tied to using vacation time instead. I know that may not seem like a big deal, but it will significantly cut down on the amount of travel we do. And we will all miss that. 

Working full-time also means I can’t drop off and pick up my kids from school anymore. That might seem like a small thing, but I really enjoy that extra time with my kiddos. Yes, the carpool line can be a pain in the rear, but I love the before and after school chats I have with my kids every day. 

It means the creative side of me will take a bit of a back seat as well. Working until 5 p.m. each day means I can’t direct the musical at our elementary school. Rehearsals start at three, so it’s just not feasible. Anyone who knows me knows that theatre is my passion (it’s actually what my degree is in!). So, having to cut that out is a huge deal for me. It feels like I’m losing a piece of myself. 

No more morning coffee dates with my girlfriends or getting laundry done while I work. That flexible schedule I love is going out the door.

All of this means a change for my husband as well. He’ll now be carpool dad and making sure the kids do their homework after school. He’ll probably even cook dinner more often. All of which he is actually looking forward to.

He’s ready for all of these changes. But I’m just not. 

But, here I go . . . as my kids head off to school, I’ll be heading off to my first day of work. 

Ready or not, here it comes.

You may also like:

It’s OK to Stay Home, Mama

I’m an Exhausted Working Mom Who’s Ready to Lean Out, Not In

To All the Working Moms Who Are Tired Before They Get to Work

Leah Stuhler

Leah is a writer/freelance editor and is a theater teacher/director. She is the author of the book The Cupcake Bullies. Leah is also a contributing writer and editor for Military Moms Blog and a contributing writer for Columbia SC Moms Blog. Check her out at www.secretsofmommyhood.me