The decision to stay home with Lila was one of the hardest I’ve faced in my life. I think mainly because I am just programmed to be an achiever and although all the “facts” made it clear staying home was the best move for our family right now, my ego had a hard time letting go of my 9-5.
See this was this decision right in the middle of the time when the debates about women in the workplace were going on. Books like “Lean In” were getting press and Marissa Mayer became CEO at Yahoo (and immediately revoked the work from home benefit). I felt like the more I read about the subject the more pressure I felt to keep working lest I be labeled someone who sold herself short.
Right when I was in the throes of sorting through this decision, a friend of mine gave me a book to read that hit right at the heart of my dilemma. The book is called “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by noted Ted Talker Brene Brown.
The title itself immediately struck me. Yes. This is SO me.
I’m not sure if it’s just who I am naturally, but I tend to tie a lot of my self-worth into my achievements and namely how other perceive those achievements.
Do I have a “cool” job? Do I live in an “exotic” place? Do I have it “all together?” What am I doing that’s “unique” and “special?”
These were all questions I thought about when making big decisions. In fact, I often thought about them more than whether those decision would make me happy or were good for my family.
As I read the book, I began to realize that behind all those questions was really just my ego. My desire to be admired or to be special in some way. It’s sort of like how so many in my generation want to be famous or a CEO by age 30. The never-ending quest for greatness … but at what cost?
I began to understand that a lot of my anxiety about quitting my job to stay home with Lila was about my fear of what other’s perception would be of me. Wouldn’t I suddenly be so ordinary if I quit my “cool job” in the ski industry to be a stay at home mom? Not to mention moving from beautiful Lake Tahoe to the suburbs of Reno, NV.
But my “ah-ha” moment came when I decided that I wasn’t going to measure myself based on other’s opinions. Instead I was going to focus on what made sense for me and my family. And with our commutes and Luke’s travel, that undoubtedly was to stay home with Lila.
And you know what? When I shared my decision publicly, all the feedback I received was the opposite of what I feared. People told me they admired my courage and were proud of me. My fear of how I’d be perceived couldn’t have been more off.
I feel like I’ve grown so much since becoming a mom and I am happy to say that although this decision to stay home has been agonizing at times, I have come out on the other side learning some important lessons: that I am “enough” just being me. That If my happiness is tied to what others think, it’s always a losing game. And finally to let go of who I “think” I should be and just love who I am right now.
Because I’ve got it pretty darn good.