Have you ever fantasized about being a stay at home mom … without the mom part? After working as a teacher, Heidi had the chance to do just that! Here’s her story.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Heidi; my body is 28 years old but I inherited my soul from an 80-year old woman. I herald from the Twin Cities but have adventured all over Minnesota. I love to bake up new recipes, read on rainy days, lose my thoughts in cardio, drive without the radio on, tailgate for the Gophers, and share wine bottles, dinner plates, and conversation with friends and family.
Did you have a career before you became a homemaker?
I went to college at The College of Saint Benedict where I graduated with a major in Communication Arts and Literature with a minor in Secondary Education. I accepted my first teaching position in the northern town of Hibbing, Minnesota. I jumped right into coaching three sports and teaching a dream schedule of American Literature and College Preparatory Writing.
The work load and distance from family and friends proved too much, and I returned to the Twin Cities to see if teaching was something I wanted to continue. I worked in an architecture and engineering firm in the North Loop and loved the office culture and predictable corporate grind, but missed working with youth.
So I left for another teaching job, this time at a charter school in the Lake Nokomis area working at closing the education gap with disadvantaged youth. As many teachers know, charter schools are a hit or miss and this one had its ups and downs. The downs ended up outweighing the ups and I found myself heart-broken and disenchanted with what the education profession has turned into.
How did you and your husband decide that you could/should quit teaching?
Quitting teaching was heartbreaking. I’d equate the experience to a bad relationship – I couldn’t help but think about what the job could be, so I ended up ignoring all of the red flags. Luckily, my husband (then fiance) could tell that it was a toxic relationship and I needed out.
At the same time, we were preparing for our upcoming wedding and he had recently been given a new position at his work that would mean a busier schedule. The timing was very do or die. I’ve always dreamed of being a homemaker (and eventual stay-at-home mom), but it isn’t something that is really accepted in today’s culture; women are supposed to be shunning traditional gender roles and climbing the corporate ladder.
And here I am, feeling like I just accepted my dream job but too afraid of other’s opinions to celebrate.
When you submitted your resignation, did your co-workers ask what you were going to do next?
When I submitted my letter of resignation, my boss was very understanding – which was a complete God send. I’m a hyper-sensitive personality type, so I really absorb the emotions around me. We were nearing the end of third quarter, so I offered to stay until the end of the quarter to help the school transition. (Thank the high heavens our contract was at-will.)
Everyone did keep asking what my next move was, and I hid behind the excuse of planning our upcoming wedding. Some wished that they could do what I was doing, and other’s had the normal response of “I can’t imagine not working, I’d be so bored.”
Walk us through your first week of homemaking.
Because of the emotional state in which I entered homemaking, it felt like I was breathing. I was breathing for the first time in months. I could enjoy life without the fear and stress of what would happen at work the next day. I could be there, really be there for my friends and family.
I could take care of not only my husband, but myself. Since I was a teacher, I had experienced the joy of summer vacation after the grueling marathon of the school year – so being at home felt like a never-ending summer vacation.
What does an ‘average’ day look like for you?
12:00 Bed: I’ve forfeited my 10:30 pm bedtime and taken on the schedule of my husband, so midnight is when my head hits the pillow.
8:30 Wake-Up: While working, I always told myself that I only needed 6-7 hours of sleep. Now I know I actually need 8-9 hours of sleep, so I wake up between 8-9, depending on when my husband is getting ready to transition from his morning work at home and leaving for work at the office.
9:00 Breakfast: Upon waking, I’ll go downstairs and make myself a cappuccino, finish the dishes from last night’s dinner, and get breakfast going. I swear Starbucks stocks went down when we both stopped getting our morning fix! P.s. Nespresso machines really are as good as they say.
10:00 E-Mail & Social Media: When the house is mine, I’ll catch up on email and social media. This takes an embarrassing amount of time, not because of Facebook or Insta, but because I’m a serial tab-opener. All of a sudden I’m reading an article about white space in social media posts when I was started out with searching for a recipe for German chocolate muffins.
I also love essential oils, so I’ll also take this time to answer a questions from my oil-squad and do a little self-development.
12:00 Work-Out: I usually try to work-out before a meal, so sometimes this will switch to the late afternoon if I’m busy with appointments. I used to do a 6:00 TEAM class at Lifetime, but gave that up to coach.
1:30 Lunch: Ideally with friends, but often consists of whatever leftovers I’ve given myself or a salad I made at the grocery store amidst running some quick errands.)
2:00 Clean: I’l usually pick one “mess” that is bugging me and take care of it. I’ll throw on a TV show while I tidy up the house, otherwise I don’t let myself watch TV during the day.
4:00 Study: I’m trying my best to prep for the GRE, so I’ll study for an hour or so before getting ready to coach. (Usually involves watching too many Insta stories.) Why the GRE? I’m looking into getting my Masters in English. I’d love to teach at the college level someday.
6:00 Coach swimming: This is what fills my teacher heart – it has all the fun things about my former profession without any of the bureaucracy.
8:00 Dinner: We eat late, but it works for our schedules. Monday through Friday it’s pretty basic, but weekends are when I can unleash my inner Martha Stewart. Hand-made pasta is on my weekend dinner wish list! We honeymooned in Rome, Italy and I’m never looking at food and wine the same way again.
Do you think you’ll ever go back to work?
Yes! Even though I am so in love with what I do right now, I’m studying to take my GRE in November, apply to grad schools, and hopefully go back to get my Master’s in English. I plan to use my degree to freelance while raising my kids and then teach at the community college level once they’re in school.
Do you have a ‘back up plan’ in the event that your husband lost is job or if you split up?
I’m a child of divorce, so marriage is very sacred to me. When my parents split my mom had been a home-maker her entire life and was left with three kids, a mortgage, and no job. It’s still a miracle how she managed to get her two-year degree and hop into the work-world while being a single mom, but she did it.
The whole process left a strong impression on me and it was always non-negotiable with my mom: we were to get a college education and have a profession of our own. So I know that I could go back to teaching if the worst happened and my husband wasn’t in my life anymore.
My dad was unemployed for a bit after his department was outsourced, so I also know the sacrifices that are made when a job is lost; if we had to rely on my professional experience, we could scrape by with our savings and my teaching while he found new work and we got back on our feet.
What has this break from working allowed you to do?
In the words of my therapist, this experience as allowed me “radical self-care” and I know I still deny myself many of the joys that my position offers. I do think this is very indicative of our toxic society in measuring your worth by your resume, structuring your joys, and practicing self-denial – which is so funny because we latch on to those brave women living the lives they want.
I want to make candles, paint, write poetry, take pointless walks… and I’m working on being okay with doing those. But I can pause, reflect, and appreciate where I am and the better spouse/friend/sister/daughter/aunt I get to be because of my focusing my work and attention in the “home” – home being so much more than the walls my husband and I live in.
When you’re meeting new people and they inevitably ask “So, what do you do?” how do you respond?
I usually laugh a little, smile, and reply that I’m a home-maker with dreams of beating Martha Stewart at her game someday.
Do people ever respond negatively when you tell them you don’t work?
If we weren’t all so Minnesota nice and my default facial expression wasn’t to smile, I’m sure I would field more distasteful comments. But I have the appreciation of my husband and the understanding of my family and in-laws, which is all the validation I’ve learned I need.
What’s something you’ve learned from this that any of us could apply to our daily lives?
We’re not made up of pieces of paper. Nobody at the grocery store or out and about knew that I was unhappy because of my work life; they just saw me as an unhappy person. My friends didn’t know that I was disconnected when we were hanging out because my mind was busy trying to figure out a survival plan; I was just a friend who wasn’t fully present.
Life is about balance and figuring out what you need to be happy. If you’re single, it’s a balancing act you can practice yourself – you just need to make sure you’re not lying to yourself. We so easily manipulate ourselves into believing something that isn’t true.
If you’re in a relationship, it’s a balancing act that requires a lot of communication and compromise – but the earlier you have these conversations, the more of your life you can spend truly living.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Heidi! Do you guys have any questions for her?