May 2018 marks my third official month as a Momma of 4 kids under the age of four years old and my fifth official month as a stay-a-home Mom. What’s funny is that I think it’s safe to say most people reading this would think the first part of that statement is crazier, but for me that isn’t the case. I joked with my husband since November that staying home was going to be a harder transition for me than bringing our fourth baby into the mix. And when Max was born all angelic and smiling and easy, he proved it to be true! Becoming a stay-at-home Mom was a huge shift for me.

The reason had so much to do with how working and providing for my family had become an intrinsic part of who I was; I felt like it was one of the biggest parts of my identity. When we started talking about the idea of me staying home once baby #4 was here (it just made a lot more sense financially than childcare for 4 children) I was surprised by the level of guilt I started feeling. Not even guilt about me being the one to stay with the kids. My husband and I weighed all options and he was just as supportive of the idea of staying home himself and me being the one to continue working. We operate as a good team, turns out. I was feeling guilty about the idea of walking away from a career that was going well for me. And walking away in a time where women are making such great strides toward equality in the workplace, where our voices are starting to be heard amongst a lot of other noise out there. I was more afraid of losing a piece of my identity than thinking about all that I could gain.

I really started weighing the pros and cons in this highly personal decision. I was using my degree in a career that I (mostly) loved. One that provided me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, let me be creative on a daily basis and included lots of travel. That was all great...until it wasn’t. Once we started our family, some of the shine faded from my job. I couldn’t shake the sinking feeling that while I was working someone else was raising my kids. I was gaining success because the hours were getting longer and the travel more regular, but somehow my babies didn’t stop growing while I was checking e-mails and checking into hotels.

I still hesitated. I was more worried that there was a chance that I might not actually like staying home (just as much as staying home is frowned upon in some circles, being honest about the fact that you LIKE working is frowned upon in others. You can’t please everyone!). I was afraid I might not be good at it. Or that I might not feel like myself anymore if I was “Just Mom.” That was hard to admit to myself.

Once I took the risk, like so many other things in life, it was clear that TAKING the risk was the hardest part. The payoff was almost instant. I didn’t feel less like myself and I didn’t miss work nearly as much as I thought I would. Most days I realize I've never felt more connected to my family. Some days I spend a lot of time reminding myself the theme from PJ Masks WILL eventually get out of my head and that the potty training years will come to an end like all things. It’s easier than I thought to pause and think about what I’ve gained and how grateful I am that we are in a position that my new normal is possible.

I think for me I’m constantly learning that change can be good; it’s ok to be different than you were at age 16 or 25...because being ok with change means being ok with growth. I’m ok with letting my priorities change with a new season of life. I have a supportive partner who makes sure I find time to be more than “Just Mom.” Although many days right now, “Just Mom” is just fine with me.