My Face Hurts.

Deciding to become a stay-at-home mom was a long, drawn out process that was fraught with worry and hesitation. In May of 2013, after a few long and hard years of going to college while caring for a child, most of which was during a divorce, I graduated from a four year university. Those school years were plagued with doubt, and I was constantly terrified of how disappointed everyone would be if I couldn’t get a job after those years of leaning on others for support. I took the second job I was offered. Then, I stumbled upon an opportunity that was better for me and my home life, and jumped at it. Working from home, part time, for 150% better pay than the first. Perfect.

It was only a couple of months in before I realized how unsuited I was for the gig. I was disorganized, I lacked passion about my subject matter, and I lacked self-motivation. Week after week, I was suffering from self-imposed stress because I was focusing more on my duties as a homemaker and a mother than on being an employee. I was a failure. One day, in tears, I lamented to Mark, “I could climb the corporate ladder, I could be an entrepreneur, but nothing will give me as much satisfaction as raising my kids!” Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me.

A year passed by. 

Prior to parting ways with the job I held (a mutual decision initiated by my former boss, which a friend of mine later deemed a conscious uncoupling) I was subtly dropping hints to Mark on my good days, and on my bad days I was acting out of stress in everything I did, causing anguish in the household. On my worst of days, my partner said to me, “I feel like we’re becoming distant.” Later, I realized it was because I was keeping such a big secret from him: I wasn’t happy with my work.

When we decided to take the plunge, I was so worried about what people would think. I was worried that earning my college degree was a waste of time, that I was just like any other unemployed twenty-something, that I had no idea how to quit when I didn’t have something lined up. (This was remedied two days later. See: conscious uncoupling.) I was worried people wouldn’t respect me, and that I would have nothing in common with everyone whose company I enjoyed who worked, or the mothers with several kids who don’t, but still have their work cut out for them. I was worried about everything.

I was used to being worried.

When I was pregnant at 19, I was worried. When my mother planned a wedding to my unborn son’s father–which I wasn’t ready for, but it was the right thing to do–I was worried. When my now-ex husband’s abused past reared up in our marriage in the worst of ways, I was worried (and terrified). When I felt like I had no way out, I was worried. When I was a single mom. When I met someone new and thought it was too soon. When things were happening too fast. When Tobias and I moved five times in ten months. When I almost didn’t pass my classes. When my divorce hadn’t finalized. When I could fail to land a job, when I could be stuck in a job I didn’t like, when planning my second wedding, when I could be shunned by others for being different, when I wanted to go to a party last night.

Yes, worried about a party.

Last night, The Christmas Care-All was the first night where I would be in a room full of people I already knew, whom I’m not in a close-knit relationship with. Former work colleagues, people I networked with, college classmates, people I went to high school with, even! I considered not going, but I wanted to face it now, rather than later. It took some wise words of encouragement from my six year old, but I went.

I’ve learned that people, in general, want to see you happy. I was overjoyed during every conversation I had, one after another. I exuded happiness and people notice! It doesn’t matter what took me there, or that it might not be within the values they have for themselves. My face hurts, from smiling the whole time I was there and for an hour after I left.

I’ve worried for seven years, and I’m done with it. I’m ready for what’s next.

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