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I Quit My Job to Stay Home with My {Teenage} Baby

The inner debate as to whether to go back to work or stay home after having a baby is a complicated and stressful one. The decision depends on a number of factors and sparks many questions within a family. Can we afford it? Do I want to delay my career? Do I want to pay daycare costs? Can I leave my baby? How will I balance it all? Will I get bored staying at home? Will I be thinking of my baby all day while at work? The list goes on and on. I went through all of these internal debates after the birth of my daughters Faith and Fiona. Ultimately, I decided to go back to work and was a working mom for a very long time.

Recently, I had to make that decision again. At age 45, after being in the work force for 25 years, I was faced with the decision to work or stay home with my baby. In the end I decided to stay home with my baby. Oh, and did I mention, my “baby” is a freshman in High School?

stay at home mom

I made the decision to be a stay at home mom while my girls are in 3rd grade and high school. Choosing to stay at home with your kids is a very personal decision and women make this decision for a number of reasons. I support all women’s decisions, but for me, the decision to quit at this stage of my life felt right. I was an executive director at a non-profit, and a registered dietitian. My job had a lot of stress and demanded a lot of my time. I was often working late and on weekends. I liked the work I was doing, but it was consuming most of my time. I found myself coming home and not wanting to engage with my family at the level I should. My 8 year old, is still at that age where she can come snuggle on mommy’s lap and snap me out of my “work mind” through her giggles, warm body, and incessant chatter. However, there was this other elusive creature inhabiting my house. She was tall and beautiful. She was moody and quiet. She was like a temperamental ghost, floating around the halls every once in awhile only to disappear into her room.

As anyone with teenagers knows, getting a conversation out of them is like digging for gold. You work and work trying to find a little gem, and once in awhile you uncover something valuable.

However, those times are few and far between and I was missing more of them because of my demanding work schedule and subsequent mental and physical exhaustion.

stay at home mom

In December my daughter decided to transfer from private school to public school mid year. This was a decision that she had put a lot of thought into, and while my husband and I were nervous about her transferring from a school of 400 to a school of 1700, we supported her. I also knew that this was going to be a challenging transition for her. It was her first “adult-like” decision that she made for herself. My little “baby” was taking a step into adulthood. This is one of many steps she will be taking in the next 3½ VERY SHORT years before she goes away to college, and I was likely going to be witnessing it from the sidelines as a stressed out 60-hour-a-week working mother, too tired to engage with her. This terrified me, especially with all the pressures that young women face today:

What was she doing online?

Does she want a boyfriend?

Does she HAVE a boyfriend?

Was she eating enough?

How are her friendships?

Does she feel pressured to drink or do drugs?

I realized that answers to these questions may or may not be offered up freely from her to me, but I knew for sure that there was a better chance of her coming to me about these things if I was simply in closer proximity to her.

Quitting my job was not without stressors and complications. It was not without some serious questions about my identity, my husband’s increased responsibility, and our finances. It was a transition that required a lot of planning and sacrifices. It is also a privilege that I know everyone does not have, and I do not take that for granted. However, in the end, there was no question that this was what I needed to do.

Now I am here in the morning to make her a smoothie and drive her to and from school. More often than not, while we are making those rides in the car, she’s got her nose in her phone and gives me one-word answers to my questions. There are lots of “eye rolls” and exasperated sighs coming from her. I’m far from a “helicopter” parent now, but I do try to engage. When she comes home from school I am there to greet her. Most of the time she mumbles something as she plops her backpack in the middle of the floor and runs upstairs to her room. There has also been more enforcement and “groundings” because I am more aware of unacceptable behavior. This means more slamming of doors and “no fairs” and stomping around. But other times, she sits down and chats with me about classes, politics, and friends. I also noticed that she texts me more throughout the day. She knows she will get an immediate response to a joke or funny meme she sends me. At night, I’m not so exhausted and I can sit with her in her room and watch a movie or a TV show.

stay at home mom

Don’t get me wrong; she still is like a beautiful, elusive, temperamental ghost floating through the halls of our house, but now the ghost oftentimes has to pass through me simply because of the proximity of my presence. And sometimes, on the very best of days, she’ll take my hand as she passes by and invites me into her world. It is during those moments, that I realize that my decision to quit my job and stay home with my 14-year-old “baby” was the right one for my family.

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17 Responses to I Quit My Job to Stay Home with My {Teenage} Baby

  1. Amy Becker March 4, 2016 at 6:09 am #

    Good for you Anissa! My boys are getting older too and I struggle with the work/home balance. Giving a 100% while at work and then still having enough mental, emotional & physical energy at the the end of the day (which is NOT my prime time anyways) to give interact and be there for my boys and husband is tough. And there are multiple days when I fail to be everything they need when they need it, and then’s the self questions and self guilt. I’m happy you choose a path that is making you happy and is good for your family. You Go Mom!

    • Anissa B March 10, 2016 at 11:15 am #

      Thank you. I know I am very fortunate and do not take this opportunity for granted.

  2. Jill March 8, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

    When my 14yo sat in my lap during a family vacation and clung to me every minute of our trip, I knew it was time for me to leave my job. I was the promotions director for a nationally recognized radio station and spent many hours away from my kids. Oh, they joined me at many of our events (such as fairs or parades), but while I was taking pictures of demolition derbies or celebrity interviews, my kids were off riding ferris wheels and having their own corn dog eating contests. We were often in the same place, but not together. Friends asked if I was crazy to leave a dream job that had taken me to red carpet events in Las Vegas. I told them I’d have to be crazy to stay. My 14yo is now 17yo and we are spending our time researching colleges and talking about SATs & winter formals & friends that are girls but not girlfriends. Job opportunities come to me from time to time with an, “Oh, you’d be so good at this! This is perfect for you!” Maybe so, but I’m getting pretty good at this mom thing and right now it feels perfect for me. Kudos to you and your decision.

    • Anissa B March 10, 2016 at 11:17 am #

      Thank you for sharing this! Even though I know I made the right decision, it makes me feel good to hear about other moms making the same choice. Good look with the college selection process! What an exciting time!

  3. Sarah March 9, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    My own mom told me many years ago that it would eventually be more important to be a stay at home mom to my older kids than it would to stay home while they were just babies sitting in a swing or drooling on my shoulder anyway. I have always worked at a career outside the home. My “babies” are now 13 and 10, and I understand that she was spot on. Staying home worth them at this assuage would be so much sweeter than when they were toddlers. Their amazing teachers and early caregivers did a fine job of teaching them to feed themselves and learn their letters. But at their ages today, this is when we get into the heavy lifting of parenting that I don’t want to outsource. Lots of moms have to stretch to stay home until the kids are in school, but then they have to go back to work before these teen years. I think reversing that pattern may be one of the best options I’ve ever given myself.

  4. Anissa B March 10, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    I’m so glad to hear your story. It is nice to hear from other moms who made the same decision. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  5. Jodi March 10, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    I have been a SAHM from the beginning and I do indeed love being there for my kids, whether they want/need me or not! We have made some sacrifices to be able to do this, but for our family, it was the right decision.

    I fully understand what this time means to you and your family having you at “home” (we both know you’re still running around like crazy, but now it’s for the needs of your family, not work). Enjoy these days and years! And Congrats on having the courage to evaluate your situation and to make a decision on what you concluded was best for your family. 🙂

  6. Mary Englert March 11, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    I really enjoyed your article and identified with it. I worked in Healthcare for 17 years, the last 8 in an administrative position when I left to stay home with my 13 year old baby and 8 month old. I appreciate the comments about your spouse having to take on the brunt of finances and your teen’a temperament sounds like mine. We made this change three years ago, and since I am at home we decided to expand our family by adopting three sons. Something we would not have been able to do if I were still in the work force.

    • Anissa
      Anissa March 15, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

      Thank you so much! Congratulations on your expanding family. Those boys are so blessed.

  7. Karna Hatzigeorgiou March 14, 2016 at 8:59 am #

    thanks so much for sharing your story. I am back working in my own business and know that I have to keep very involved with my freshman and middle schooler. Feeling the necessity to be at home at these very important daily milestones and fleeting moments, I am probably not giving as much to my new business as others would. Racing out of the studio to be home after school and getting to sports always begs looks from plenty of others. This time with my kids is more important. There is a lot of life waiting in a few short years when they are gone. Choices.

  8. Anissa
    Anissa March 15, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    Thank you! We all do the best we can in this crazy thing called parenthood. Congratulations on starting your own business. It’s so hard to balance and I admire you so much!

  9. Dani April 1, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

    My mom ended up not working my junior year of high school. Up until that point it was by a landslide the best year our relationship had ever seen. She was laid back (not in work mode) relaxed and we loved hanging out! She may or may not have called me in sick once or twice for pedicures and French toast! Her idea, not mine 😉 It was such a gift for our relationship especially right before a whirlwind senior year and college.
    Now I’m a mama I can absolutely see the value in that. Good for you mama!

  10. Anissa
    Anissa April 6, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is always great for me to get reinforcements regarding my decision! I love the idea of playing hooky for pedicures! I’m going to steal it!

  11. Cari October 7, 2016 at 7:41 am #

    Thank you for your article. It’s the struggle I’m dealing with right now… having four kids ages 15 down to 5, I’ve been at the same company for over 20 years and now wondering if I can make that change for my family. I feel like I can’t give 100% to either family or job with all the directions I go every day. It does feel weird to think I could retire in 10 years but that I may just quit now. I always think the more informed you are, the better decisions you can make. I will keep thinking and talking through it with my husband to help decide. You are right – a few short years once they are in high school!!

  12. Tara October 13, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

    Thanks so much for the great article! I am currently struggling with the decision to leave my career of 15 years to stay home with my 8,5 and 4 year old. My job is relatively flexible but still demanding. I cannot focus as 100% on work or the kids and it’s a constant inner struggle. As many already mentioned, I feel I’m entering a stage where they need me more than ever and I should be more available to them. Instead I’m frazzled, unfocused and mentally exhausted all the time. We would have to make a number of sacrifices as a family, kids included, but I think we can make it work. I am just scared to take the leap and risk the flexibility this job provides in the event we cannot make things work as planned.

  13. Suzanne January 8, 2017 at 2:19 am #

    I love this. There is so much that goes into the decision to stay home and at the end of the planning I truly believe it comes down to intuition.

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