I was never in a rush to be a mom. I always knew it would happen eventually, but I didn't feel the need to make it an immediate priority—I figured it would come later. But life doesn't always go according to plan, and I got pregnant at 24. I quickly went from attending boozy weekend brunches with my friends to planning for the biggest shift in my life.
And I also had another huge thing to think about with my now-husband: should I keep pursuing my career or become a stay-at-home mom?
I was three months pregnant and left to make a huge decision about my future. My career in journalism certainly couldn't generate the income I needed to cover childcare, but where would that leave me emotionally and mentally?
I worked so hard to land that local TV news reporting gig and had plans of moving up into a top 25 market in the following years. The thought of giving up this climb to success as well as my financial contribution to our household scared me.
But, two weeks later, I quit my job. And regret soon hit me like a good, old-fashioned punch to the stomach.
After my son was born, guilt followed. It implanted itself somewhere between childbirth and breastfeeding, and made me feel like I wasn't doing enough in my new role as a mom. Society had me believing I needed to be at work, breaking glass ceilings and furthering women's rights in the workplace. And in some cosmic way, I felt like I was letting down an entire generation of women who made it possible to dream big.
It didn't help that my entire identity had changed.
I went from a working professional to an amateur mom throwing pity parties for myself at the kitchen table. It was tough making that transition.
I had to let go of the burning ambition I once held onto so tightly because I didn't feel as though I could hold that and a crying baby at the same time. I think most mothers wrestle with similar fears at some point—stay-at-home moms and working moms alike.
Many working moms probably worry if they're depriving their kids of valuable mommy-time. Or maybe they feel guilt while dropping them off at daycare. And many stay-at-home mothers, like me, worry if we're failing at our job. If our college degree was a waste of time and money. It was a constant internal battle for me.
It wasn't until my son was almost 2 years old when I began to fully accept my life as a stay-at-home parent. Was I earning an income like my husband? No. Was I contributing to my household? Yes. I was running the household. I was the boss. I was getting my tasks done, doing what life asked of me, and raising my family. And you know what? I never took a day off.
I'm at the tail end of my 20s now with two boys, and I've learned that whether we choose to work from an office building or from the four walls that make up our home, we're all on the same journey.
We're all taking calls in the middle of the night for a glass of water or for a goodnight kiss.
We're all scrambling around the kitchen making lunch after lunch after lunch each day.
We're all running around the house trying to find matching shoes, and we're all wiping away the tears after a big fall.
We're all mothers, and we're all the most important people in our kids' lives.
There are still times when I wonder where I'd be today if I had chosen to keep my career. But as life goes, things happen when they happen. Life doesn't fit into any one plan, and sometimes you need to trust the timing of it all.
I used to regret being a stay-at-home mom, but motherhood is a choice you make every day, whether you're at an office desk or the kitchen table. It's messy, demanding, and selfless. We are raising the next generation, and there's no harder (or more rewarding) job than that.