Motherhood is a Profession

I’ve been struggling lately with a big issue.  Since shortly after Miss was born, I have worked as a forensic psychological consultant.  I have considered myself to be incredibly lucky to have secured this position.  Basically, I’m a small business owner.  I do consulting work for a company that has a contract to perform competency to stand trial evaluations. I get referrals from this company.  I set up an appointment at my convenience to go to the jail and complete the evaluation.  It only takes a couple of hours.  Then I write my report from home, usually during nap time or after the girls have gone to bed.  Occasionally I have to testify in a case (this is my favorite part).  It always seemed so perfect, because I never worked a ton.  Maybe one or two, sometimes three evaluations per month.  I could stay home essentially full time with my kids and still get an opportunity to do some of the work I spent so many years in school to be qualified to do.

For a little while before and a few months after Sis was born I took a self-determined maternity leave.  Now that I am back to working, my work load has drastically increased, and I’m getting lots of cases in other counties.  In the past month or so I’ve done seven evaluations in jails that are at least an hour drive away.  This has led to lots of time away from my girls.

Last Tuesday I didn’t get home until 6:30.  I had spent most of the morning working on reports and then had a long drive for a long evaluation.  On the way home I had this awful pit in my stomach, knowing that I would miss dinner and not have much time with the girls before bed time.  I had to watch my speedometer very carefully during the hour-and-a-half-long drive home that evening.  My mind and heart were protesting being away from my little girls and aching to get home, and my body was responding, pretty much involuntarily, with my foot repeatedly pressing down harder on my accelerator.

I got home and felt like I had barely seen my girls all day.  It was awful.

I did let Miss stay up a little bit late to watch Olympic gymnastics that night.

But I still felt like crap at the end of that day.

So.  Here I am tonight, having just finished up and sent off another report (my third this weekend).  I haven’t done a blog post in a week.  Because I’ve been spending pretty much every nap time and bed time working.  And I don’t really even enjoy the work anymore.  Work is no longer what’s important to me.

I used to find psychology to be so fascinating and I loved the challenges that my job presents.  Now?  Meh.  Psychology and evaluating criminals is no longer what I find fascinating.  This is:

Being a psychologist is part of my identity, and has been for almost ten years.  But.  Though it is a newer facet of my identity, being a mom way trumps being a psychologist.  Way.

A few weeks ago I seriously started to consider leaving my consultant position.  I felt very guilty about it.  Some of my guilty thoughts:

But I spent so many years training to be a psychologist.

But I used to love my job.

But I should feel so fortunate to have a position like this.

I thought about how I would feel to not be a psychologist anymore.  I wondered if I would feel sad.  Or lost.  Or, somehow, less.  I knew I was not happy spending so much time away from my girls these past few months, but I kept thinking I should ride it out.  I shouldn’t give up this amazing work opportunity.  I should keep this job so I can maintain my professional skills.

Then Tuesday happened and I was sick with missing my kids and I thought, “For what?”  All these shoulds, and no real good reason for them.  I once thought I needed to keep my skills so that I can go back to working more when my kids are in school.  Except I’m going to homeschool them.  

So I came up with a few more shoulds that make more sense to me.

I should take advantage of the opportunity I have to stay home with my girls and be present and happy with them.

I should remember that being a mom is a full time job, and it’s okay to have only one of those.

I should soak in all the wonderfulness that is these little beings that I am privileged to call mine.

I should take back nap time and bed time.  Seriously.  Any mama of preschoolers/toddlers/babies knows that you can’t give up all of these for long without going totally nuts.

Yes, I should.  So I’m going to.  After much discussion with my husband, my mom, and a good friend, I’ve decided I am going to leave my job.  Right now my priority is my family.  A little bit of work now and then was okay.  A lot of work is not (and in case you’re wondering, I have basically been told that I cannot decline referrals unless I’m out of town).  I am going to stop worrying about going to work and focus on doing the work of raising my kids.  I might be a little sad to not have my professional identity anymore.  But I have other things I’m going to focus on in my free time (more on that later).  And I’ll still technically be a psychologist.  I’ll always keep my license current.  Nothing says that I can’t go back to it someday if I want to.

The bottom line is this: I am a mom and my profession is Motherhood.  I prefer the title of “Mama” to “Dr.” any day.

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3 thoughts on “Motherhood is a Profession

  1. Congratulations on your decision! I am in a similar spot right now working 2 days a week an hour away because I spent so long gaining my degree. But it isn’t as rewarding anymore, I want to be home, but I can’t yet. As soon as I get the chance I will be!

  2. “The bottom line is this: I am a mom and my profession is Motherhood. I prefer the title of “Mama” to “Dr.” any day.” I think this is such a courageous statement to make in our culture, which can be so focused on professional achievement and monetary gain. I’m a medical student and a mother, and it feels almost like sacrilege to voice a thought like that around most of my classmates or preceptors (especially now, as residency applications are approaching). Thank you for posting about your journey – I’m looking forward to following you on the adventure of motherhood. -Katie

    • Thank you Katie! I have felt that way too, that it was pretty shocking to many if not all of my former classmates, professors, and colleagues from my years of training and professional work, that I chose to leave the working world to stay home full-time with my kids. Some people have even stopped talking to me, and I suspect this might be the reason. I’m sure in medical school it would be even worse! Best wishes to you, and thanks so much for commenting.

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