I Didn’t Want To Be a Super Mum, So I Leaned Out

Before we adopted our son A, I thought I would be able to do it all. And I did. I continued to work at my full-time, super demanding job in newspaper publishing at the place I had been for 17 years. Holy cow. That’s a lot of years. I never wanted to be an SAHM (maternity leave confirmed that), and we really weren’t set up financially to have me stay home anyway.

To spend more time with A at the end of the day, I shifted my hours slightly so I could be home by 5:30 or 6 in the evening instead of 7ish (and sometimes 9!). We had a fantastic nanny, who was loving, reliable and flexible. I worked out while it was still dark out and left for work as my husband readied our son for school. J works late, so it worked out, sort of.

But suddenly Year 1 was almost over. And I felt like I had missed the entire year. I didn’t go to any of the “First Fridays,” the once-a-month mornings when parents visit the classroom. I couldn’t do any pre-work volunteering during the book fair or sports carnival. And I didn’t get to know his teacher, who was smart and caring. I only saw her at parent-teacher interview time. And while A loved his nanny, he yearned for mummy to pick him up from school. Every day. So as he finished first grade, I knew I had to change things.

I discussed the situation with my husband, who agreed that A needed his parents more — particularly since my husband doesn’t get home from work until past A’s 8 pm bedtime. We missed nearly all of the first five years of his life (he was 5 when we adopted him from Ethiopia), and, as parents know, these kids really do grow up fast. Astoundingly fast. Soon he would be 7, and I didn’t want to miss any more years. I wanted to be at A’s first day of Year 2, get to know his teachers, help him with school, go to P&C meetings, get to know his friends, take him to soccer, cook fun dinners — and desserts — for us and even arrange playdates.

As another summer of trying to find day camps and OOSC care loomed, we made a plan. I would quit my job in January, just after a few weeks of tennis camp and zoo camp. We would spend January together, as a family, enjoying summer.

So I leaned out. I quit! I could be super mum, but that was for the birds. Instead I’m a stay-at-home working mum (an SAHWM, if you will). I still freelance and will look for a suitable job, when I’m ready. For now, I’m there, at school, every day at 3 pm. A’s not always overjoyed to see me, but he’s glad I’m there. And I am too.

Did you make a big work change to be there for your kids?

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