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

Before we adopted 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 elementary school. J works late, so it worked out, sort of.

But suddenly first grade 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 photo day. And I didn’t get to know his teacher, who was smart and caring. I only saw her at report card time. And while A loved his nanny, he yearned for mommy to pick him up from school. Every day. So as A 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 p.m. 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 second grade, get to know his teachers, help him with school, go to PTA 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 day camps loomed, we made a plan. I would quit in August, just after a few weeks of baseball camp and zoo camp. We would spend August upstate, having a family summer.

So I leaned out. I quit! I could be super mom, but that was for the birds. Instead I’m a stay-at-home working mom (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 2:40 p.m. A’s not always overjoyed to see me, but he’s glad I’m there. And I am too.