I didn’t plan on being a stay at home mom, it just kind of happened. The same way find yourself ordering coffee out everyday, you didn’t mean to make it a habit but here you are waiting in line for your latte again.
I’m someone who’d defined myself by my work in the past. I was passionate about what I was doing, I loved what I was studying, but I knew I wanted kids. It was towards the end of my first year of a PhD program when I stared asking tenured professors how they balanced family life and science. The looks I got could only be described as disapproving and they would go on to tell me that they’d waited until they were established in their career to start a family.
How shitty is that? To open up to a mentor only to be dismissed? While not the point of this essay I do want to say I’ve gotten so much flack from female colleagues telling me that I was wasting my career by having a kid, this was a forever commitment. Multiple senior colleagues told me I should’ve waited until I was 40, like they did.
I did not want to lay down my fertility, the promise of a family at the alter of my career. I thought I could do both, and lots of women do. But when we moved to DC my half hearted searching did not result in a new job for me. Over time I stopped looking, putting more time into this blog and having adventures with my daughter. Just enjoying this season of having a pre-school aged child, which is already almost over.
I feel so grateful that I have the ability to stay home, living in the city is not cheap and I’m fully aware that these adventures are because of my husband’s income. But still I went through a phase of struggling with my identity.
What’s the first thing you ask a new acquaintance, what’s your job? I didn’t want to say that I was a stay at home mom, it sounded weak. I don’t really stay at home, I’m not a domestic goddess and if I were I’d own the title. But, technically, that’s my main role right now, childcare.
I remember the first few times I told people I was a stay at home mom and you know what, they didn’t bat an eye. And some even said they’d done the same, and that it was amazing to have had the time with their kids. This shame I had been carrying had totally dropped. I thought people would perceive me as stupid, lazy or who knows what. That was all in my head, but I do blame the toxic culture of science for putting it there.
That shiny career will always be there, it’s not going anywhere. But for now, uncovering who I am without the identity of a cool job has been humbling and necessary.
There’s always a backstory, people are always growing. Stepping off the career track has allowed me to see that.
A note about the photography
I’ve had the concept for this photo shoot in my head ever since moving to DC. I felt like I spent my days thinking way to much about finding the perfect job to hop back into. I was being given the perfect opportunity to watch my daughter grow, and I was totally overlooking that gift. I wanted to capture an image which embodied the struggle of motherhood for me, the wanting to have it all.
Callum and Hailey of C.E. Photography have helped me capture this concept shoot. They are both still in college, although the portfolio they’ve amassed makes it seem like they are far older. I’m so impressed by you two; the hustle, the enthusiasm and the skill you’ve crafted speak to how amazing you both are. You should totally book them, they’ll be graduating soon and moving to Chicago.
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