How did you choose the career you are currently in?
After my husband Bob and I had been dating for two years, we started talking seriously about getting married. I was in grad school and he was working in his first post-college job in the real world.
During that time our relationship was long distance, though we were only about two hours away from each other. I was living in an apartment on campus in Champaign, Illinois and Bob at home with his parents in Chicago. In the light of the distance between us, we typically only got to see each other every other weekend and when I had winter, spring and summer breaks from school. So we talked on the phone, a lot.
We would have marathon length phone conversations in which we would cover every possible topic we could think of that might be important to have discussed before marriage. We both take wedding vows very seriously and wanted to be sure that we were on the same page on the issues and decisions that mattered most to both of us.
One of the issues that came up in our conversations was whether when we had children someday (it never occurred to us that building our family would or could be difficult) I would quit my job and be a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM).
Both of our mothers had primarily been SAHMs, though they had part time jobs over the years. By the time we were in college our moms both returned to full time work as teachers. I should say that, of course, being SAHMs to me, my husband and our siblings throughout our childhood and adolescence was more than a full time job for our mothers.
When I was in grad school, I was open to, but not sold on being a SAHM. I had been going to school for six years straight and was looking forward to putting my education/degrees to good use.
My mom had always emphasized that going to college was and should be more than trying to get your “Mrs.” She also reminded my sister and me that two of our extended family members, who had been SAHMs (with no college degrees) found out in mid-life, when their children were grown, that their husbands had been cheating on them for years. Those women ended up getting divorces and initially having difficulty finding employment without formal education and training in vocations other than motherhood.
I feared that scenario playing out in my own life and was determined to at least have my education and degrees to fall back on, if and when I needed them. More than that, I felt pulled towards what working in my chosen career (which back then was parks and recreation/program management) would be like – the joy, validation and experience that I believed it would bring.
But this was close to a deal breaker for Bob. It may sound old fashioned, but he wanted his wife to be a SAHM, so that his (possibly our) children would have the care and attention that we both had growing up in our homes. Bob and I went many rounds about this. Eventually he made a strong enough case and I decided that I was willing and excited to be a SAHM. Not long after that we got engaged. We planned to wait at least a year or two after we got married before trying to get pregnant, to give us time to settle into our marriage and new life together. We also chose to wait a bit so that I would have the opportunity to work a few years in the real world before starting our family.
So that is how I chose the career I am currently in. There is certainly more to me and my life these days than being a mom and homemaker (or “Domestic Engineer” as I like to think of myself). I have many hobbies and also do some part-time work (both paid and volunteer), as a writer, group fitness instructor and religious education teacher, which give me purpose and validation outside of parenting.
I look forward to the day when I will return to a career outside our home in parks and recreation, fitness, ministry and/or freelance writing. However, I don’t want this time in my life to go by too fast either. I want to be present to and mindful as a SAHM to our children while they are still young.
Though it isn’t always easy, I love being a SAHM and strive to be the best one I can be during these formative years in our children’s lives.
How did you choose the career that you are currently in?
Kathy Benson is a bereaved and blessed mom, writer and group fitness instructor trying to live mindfully and find joy in the journey after dealing with secondary infertility and loss for five years. She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and two living children.