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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

After 3 glorious months on maternity leave, I am back at work — I am officially a pumping, working Mommy, again. And I have to admit, I spent a great deal of time before my leave ended dreaming about being a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), something I felt so strongly against when Lucas was born. I love working, and I have a graduate degree. How could I be a SAHM?

When Lucas was born, it wasn't even a thought that I would return to work. And I did so when Lucas was 6 weeks old, albeit working from home. I started going back into the office when Lucas was 11 weeks old, a feat I was able to accomplish because I could leave the house with peace of mind knowing my mom was watching over him.

And when I not only successfully returned to work, pumping 3 times a day, but also changed jobs when Lucas was 4½-months-old, I scorned other women who gave up their professions to be SAHM. How could they set women's lib back 40 years? No wonder women are still behind men on the corporate ladder. And more women are seemingly choosing to stay home with their kids instead of going back to work. Two of my best friends are guilty as charged, and both have advanced degrees (JD and PhD).

But then came Justin and I was thrown for a loop. I knew I needed more than 6 weeks to adjust to 2 kids, so I decided to take a full 3 months of leave. I found that I actually enjoyed spending my days with my boys, shuttling Lucas to and from school, making lunches, going to the zoo and aquarium, running errands. And as my leave flew by, I found myself fantasizing about being a SAHM.

There is a part of me that believes being a working mom actually makes me a better mom — the time I spend with my boys is so precious I don't take one second for granted, and getting out of the house every day means I can devote myself to my boys when I am home. But I still grappled with the thought of returning to work. And I began to feel a twinge of guilt — if there is no financial need for me to go back to work, should I stay home? This question has been posed before in many magazines, Parenting included, and often led to very strong responses. And what about the student loans I am still paying back? What about my MBA? Did I really work so hard in graduate school to become a SAHM?

I didn't necessarily miss the adult stimulation because I work very hard to maintain my own "me" time with my friends. I did miss the paychecks and getting dressed in something other than flip flops and t-shirts! And I wondered what would happen if in 6 years, when the boys are in school, I want to re-enter the workforce. But most of all, I couldn't figure out if I felt so strongly about staying home because it was temporary. Would I still idealize being a SAHM if that's who I was day in and day out?

Was I really feeling so strongly about staying home because it wasn't permanent? Or was I coming to terms with the fact that Justin is most likely my last baby? Now that Lucas is 27-months-old, I know how quickly babies become toddlers, and how quickly toddlers become preschoolers, and so on. And I want to hang on to the quickly passing moments with my newborn, whom is already an infant. But should that mean I sacrifice a huge part of my life, something I worked very hard to accomplish and of which I am so proud?

In case you are wondering how I answered that question, let me repeat the opening line of this post: After 3 glorious months on maternity leave, I am back at work — I am officially a pumping, working Mommy, again. It was with a heavy heart I went back to work, but I know being a working mom does not change the relationship I have with my boys or the type of boys I will raise.