The Empty Crib Syndrome


I have really been in a funk lately. My mind has been a whirlwind of emotions & thoughts. Ever since my youngest, my baby, turned 4years old I have been giving myself a hard time. I feel this pressure, entirely from myself, but pressure no less, to work.  Not that I don’t work now, in fact I feel like this is the hardest I have ever worked in my life!  My husband and I are a bit old school. He works outside the home.  I do all the household chores, all things clothes and food related, and run the kiddos lives…school, homework, religious ed, sports, Scouts, clubs, B-day parties, etc. & lately I have been at the beckon call of our newest four-legged family member, Wyatt our Labrador puppy. So, you see, my life is extremely full. So what the heck is my problem? I think it all started 11 years ago when I received my Masters in Sustainable & Green Design. Incidentally, I received it in-between becoming a wife and a mother…talk about an emotional rollercoaster.

My intention was to get my Bachelors and Master’s degrees before children, in hopes of being able to rock the Interior Design world once they were in school.  I envisioned a couple kids, big house, fancy cars, and a lifestyle that would require two incomes. Then I had my first bundle of joy, second, and third, which only left me longing for more.  Oh how I long for more! I absolutely love motherhood, I love children, I honestly had no idea how much I loved children until I had my own. There is nothing I would love more in this world than to have a couple more adorable additions. I would gladly do the whole diaper, nursing, potty training, etc. all over again. I realize some may think I am crazy and that’s okay, ten years ago I would have thought I was crazy too. But it is what I yearn for, what my heart desires. I would gladly stay in this house forever, gone is the notion that a big house or fancy cars are of any importance. I have grown, I realize what is important in life, and it is the people, the relationships, those are the true treasures that should be worshiped. And I realize money is always a factor but it should be noted that children only need be as expensive as parents allow them to be…cloth diapers, nursing, secondhand clothes, public schools/homeschooling, limit extracurricular (when you have a lot of brother and sisters you can start your own Chess club, Scouts, etc.) potluck parties…you’d be surprised what children don’t actually need (i.e. iPad, iPhone, designer anything, their own cars). Unfortunately it doesn’t look like any more bundles of joy are in my future. It breaks my heart. And this has been the most difficult dream I have ever had to bury. But bury I must, until of course I see a pregnant woman, another mom asking if we are “done”, or advertisement for fostering/adopting, and then the feelings start stirring up again. Why must the thought of a new soul entering our family be so magnificent??? Ugh! I suppose I have true love to blame, oh true love…doing something for someone else without thinking about the pain it may cause you. Thus, I am at a crossroad in life. I am standing at the intersection of stay at home mom & working mom and screaming for directions!! My heart says stay at home but my mind says work!

I no longer have a baby or toddler in a crib, logic says I should move on and venture outside the home.  Shoot, “old me” before children (BC) me says go be that amazing Interior Designer you dreamt you would be and worked hard for your education to become.  After all women didn’t work so hard to overcome everything just so I would be a SAHM with professional degrees. But maybe they had it all wrong, maybe it was about options, being able to choose to stay home and be the most amazing person in 3 little children’s lives or maybe go to work fulltime, or part-time, my choice. Maybe for once I agree, when it comes to mom with a career vs. motherhood as a career it should be the woman’s choice.

I don’t know what my choice will be next year or even next month but for now I choose SAHM.

For now I am enjoying the company of my 4 year old and nursing a wounded heart going through the grieving process of an empty crib. Can you relate? How do you know when it is time? Time to be done with having babies? Time to go back to work?