Ask a prospective stay-at-home mom what she hopes to accomplish by making the jump from work to home, and you'll probably hear, "I want to spend more time with my children," or "I want to nurture my family and myself." Seldom is it, "I want to have my laundry finished by 3 p.m.," or "I'd rather flame out doing volunteer work."
But as a stay-at-home mom for the past six years, sometimes I still find myself tripped up by a perfectionistic mindset, caught up in the way I perceived myself when I was an executive secretary for a pharmaceutical company. I loved fast-paced office life, and my personality demanded precision as I tackled projects. Aiming at giving 110 percent, I was determined to be the best worker the world had ever seen.
But when my two girls arrived, my drive to become the perfect working mother took root. I figured if anyone could embody the essence of "Super Mom" while pursuing a career, it was me.
But then I had trouble scaling the cliffs of Super Mom Summit while juggling the demands of the workplace. I was pressured to work overtime, but our daycare required pickup by 6:00 p.m. Work got me when I was fresh and ready to go; my family got me when I was tired and just wanted to put my feet up. Eventually I let go of the dream of having it all, all at the same time. I wanted to become a stay-at-home mom, but I didn't think it was financially possible—that is, until the day I did the math. I realized that after subtracting all the costs associated with me working—daycare, transportation, clothing, eating out, and taxes—I cleared only $39 a week. My husband, Terry, offered to make up the difference by working overtime, and I turned in my notice.
Those first few months at home were wonderful. I loved spending lots of time with my kids. The more relaxed schedule allowed me to recuperate from all the pressures I'd put upon myself to be both the best worker in the world and Super Mom.
I healed. I perked up. And slowly I realized that not only could I do a good job as a stay-at-home mom, I could be the best stay-at-home mom the world has ever seen. Enter my fiendish alter-ego: Super Stay-at-Home Mom!
Faster Than a Speeding Guilt Trip
At work, my job responsibilities were clearly designated. But I quickly discovered there's no such manual for being a stay-at-home mom. I had a pretty good idea what was required, however: I needed to bake like Betty Crocker, sew like June Cleaver, volunteer like Mother Teresa, and clean like the Scrubbing Bubbles.