This post is brought to you by HABA USA and written by guest blogger Eleni Glader.
The longer I stay at home, the more shameless I feel.
I no longer feel guilty spending my husband’s hard-earned money on things I need—not for our daughter or for our home—but for me and just me. Am I careful? Yes, I have a rule: no credit card debt. Do I look for deals? Absolutely. Do I compromise on quality? No way. I do not enjoy buyer’s remorse.
I no longer feel naked without a job title or the sting of my husband’s colleague remarking to another woman at a dinner, “she’s not anyone, she’s just a wife.” Do I plan to return to work? Yes. When? When I am ready. I have not set a deadline.
To what I can attribute this consciousness?
At the end of my second trimester, I quit my job and moved to Germany to join my husband, who was already living there for over three months. My last day at work was the day before my departure. My new title as the accompanying spouse on my husband’s fellowship was my shield. Accompanying spouses (most of whom were men) were not encouraged to even seek volunteer positions, but to support their spouse and enroll in a German language course.
Living in Germany gave me a fresh perspective on longer term parental leave as a norm, as a given, perhaps even as an obligation to your child’s welfare—not as something special for privileged people, or lazy women who never wanted to work anyway, or had nothing better to do.
But when “Beans” was 18 months old we moved back to the U.S. I expected to feel the pressure to return to work or hunger for the hustle and bustle of commuter life. Neither came. Between baby music, gym and art I made a circle of stay-at-home mom friends, who all happen to be secure in their decision and accomplished. That helped. And more so, I was growing with my child—growing further from my former self. I realized that person I left behind stayed behind and vanished. A person who would have felt ashamed not to be earning money for such a long time, a person who became dependent on titles for self-worth and identity. I am emancipated. I am more—more creative than I can ever remember, more environmentally conscious, more community-minded, more entrepreneurial, more deeply connected to others.
I have the mental space to dream bigger again and to think about a career that fits my new life as a wife and mother. My new life is art “ohne titel” (no title). But if that makes you feel uncomfortable you could call me Shameless Stay-at-Home Mother.
About The Author
Eleni Glader is a wife, mother, toy-lover (to the extent that she designed her own indoor/outdoor sensory play table-play kitchen), aspiring children’s book writer and occasional blogger on Wired Academic (an education and tech news site). Eleni has a blog called BebaChic, featuring toddler girl fashion (another passion). She hopes to complete her nursing prerequisites before they change the requirements! While living in Berlin, Germany Eleni discovered HABA, which quickly became a favorite toy brand and source of inspiration.