I’m losing my job. Not the kind that I go to from Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the other kind of full time job, the one of a stay at home mom. Nearly ten years ago I quit my successful career to stay-at-home and raise my twins. It was the easiest and yet most difficult decision I’ve ever made. At times it’s very nearly killed me. But the day I put them on that school bus for the first time, through the gallons of tears spilling down my face, the thoughts began.
What am I supposed to do now? The people who for five years had been my sole purpose of being are now in school for seven hours a day. How will I fill my days? Who am I beyond just being “Johnny’s and Susie’s” mom? What do I even like anymore? What am I good at? Those first few years of elementary school I started to reclaim my life a bit. I became addicted to exercise, forced my mind to engage on a very small scale with some freelance writing and began to dig out from the chaos that the first five years of having twins bring. I also volunteered at school every chance I could get so that I could remain as big of a part of my kids lives as possible. I thought that by volunteering I was showing them how much I cared and wanted to be a part of this new life they had that didn’t include me. I have come to realize that all the volunteering has been just as much for me—if not more so. I’ve been desperately trying to hold on to them and to my sense of purpose. And now as they get ready to head to upper elementary school next year, where rumor has it parents are not just unwelcome but unwanted, I feel that desperation growing.
With no choice but to let go even more (bless my heart when they actually leave the house and go to college), I am having what I’ve started referring to as my mid-mom-life crisis. The conversations with myself go something like this: Should I go back to work? But what about when they get sick at school or need a ride to practice? Who is going to be there to pick up the pieces when things inevitably fall apart? Look at my friends who work in schools—a nearly ideal set up in terms of schedules and being home when the kids are home—even they struggle when breaks don’t align or someone wakes up with a fever. What would I even do for work? After nine years out of the traditional workforce, am I really qualified to step back in where I left off? Who would hire me? And is that even what interests me anymore? I really enjoy learning, should I go back to school? Is that a waste of time and money when I’m currently not even using the college education I have? When exactly did I lose my mojo? Where is that girl that knew what she wanted and was ready for the next challenge? And so it goes. Over. And Over. And Over.
I thought I was alone in this relentless struggle until I started opening up to friends. The more moms I talked to, the more I realized this is an epidemic among stay-at-home moms who have made it past the early stages of childhood. Many are lost, wandering, trying to find our purpose. Don’t get me wrong—we are some lucky ladies. We are in a position where working or not working is an option. And that is a luxury I will never underestimate or take for granted. But that luxury comes with a price. And the price is a piece of our own identity.
If you are reading this article in hopes that I have the solution, get ready to be disappointed. I’ve done things like take Italian classes online, get back into playing tennis, and set aggressive goals for reading books so that I can be semi-interesting at cocktail parties. But it’s all grasping at straws and distracting myself from the real question of, “what is my purpose?” In college they had guidance counselors who helped steer you in the right direction. Is there such a thing as a mid-mom-life crisis counselor?
The one good thing that has come out of this struggle is what I call “momversations”—conversations between mothers that are vulnerable and difficult and necessary. In a world filled with picture perfect lives being thrown in our faces on social media, it can be hard to admit that things aren’t always as peachy as they seem to be. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is enough. So reach out, pick up the phone or schedule a coffee date with a friend—start a momversation. It’s certainly cheaper than a new Ferrari.