March 28, 2022

The Accidental Stay At Home Mom

 Okay so, I want to start writing more.  I enjoy it, so why not begin again?  I wanted to create a new account on instagram dedicated to the true struggles of being a stay at home mom- accidentally. This means you were working, but then something stopped it all in its tracks, and now you are sort of screwed.  I wanted to write about and share my experience as an accidental stay at home mom.  If you follow me on Instagram, the handle is Dana_asahm. I posted a bunch of long-winded videos on my stories as a general intro, but below I wanted to expand on my thoughts.  Enjoy!

This wasn’t how I expected my life to turn out. Wait, that’s not what I mean. I wasn’t supposed to be a stay at home mom. Let me back up for a minute. I misspoke. I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom?  I didn’t plan to be a stay at home but it sort of happened.  Yeah, I guess that sounds the best.  I guess I should blame the status quo or society norms, OR the shitty system in America that is public education. They are definitely half to blame, but I still blame myself too.. There’s not just one single thing that makes my being a SAHM accidental, it’s a lot of little things. The most important one to me is that I thought I’d have a career by the age of 39. Isn’t that what we ALL assume?   I thought I would have discovered something I love, have it magically become my passion and that it would be as easy as pie to turn it into a wonderful career.  I have a ton of hobbies and other interests that I enjoy doing and that make me feel good, but I have yet to turn them into something.  I truly thought that’s what was supposed to happen. I thought everyone was chasing their dreams and that they would eventually catch them. I don’t know about you, but I was brought up and surrounded by folks who believed that life is supposed to have structure and go in a perfect straight line. Something about ducks and rows.. Weird.  But that’s not how my makeup works (biologically speaking) and that’s not reality.  My life had so many squiggly lines of confusing uncertainty until this point, that you would think it would resemble something out of a Jackson Pollack Painting.

 And so here we are.  I’m thirty-nine and have been an accidental stay at home mom since January of 2017, if you care for specifics. And of course with a few bullshit jobs sprinkled in between. This was the month and year that I got laid off from my job, my dog was attacked by a neighbor’s dog, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer.  Shit, where do I begin?

I guess I should begin with a bold statement and a belief I feel very strongly about: College isn’t for everyone. Agree or disagree, these are straight up facts my friends. My college story isn’t anything revolutionary; it’s actually quite the opposite.  It’s mundane yet millions of high school grads heading into a four-year university have experienced this, no matter what stage of the college process they’re in.  And if they had what appears to be a seamless four years and know exactly what they want to do once they  have graduated and say they are doing great and feel excited and seem to have all of the confidence in the world for being just 21 years old, I’m going to have to burst that bubble.  They’re lying to you.    They’re scared shitless for the real world. The education system in the United States does not set students up for the real world…like, AT ALL.  I think I would have enjoyed a class on basic survival skills for camping or hiking, or how about a class on changing a flat tire? Or even better, a class called, How to Deal with Assholes: A Real World Guidebook  to Life. Real. World. Shit. According to, an online article entitled, “How American Schools Set Students Up To Fail”; written by Matthew Biggins.  He breaks the topic of education down into three parts, which I agree with 1000%:

What is the purpose of education?

1.       To get good grades?

2.       To get into the best universities?

3.       To get the best jobs?

And the answer would be none of those.  Biggins says, “The purpose of education is to inspire action to better the world and lead us to personal fulfillment. Yet you wouldn’t know it by looking at our education system today. ( Biggins,  Amen, Matthew.

After I graduated high school (because God forbid someone doesn’t earn their high school diploma since there are plenty of successful people in this world who never even graduated high school).  I went straight into community college because that’s where my bff and her sister were looking to go, and right out of the gate I’m appearing like a follower! Gah! But at age eighteen, yes, I was one.  I was young and naive, so sue me. I couldn’t tell you what my friends wanted to go to school for but at the time; Special Education was all the rage. So naturally, as a follower, I jumped on that bandwagon without knowing squat about the major or that field. In case you weren’t aware, Special Education is teaching kids who have special needs and/or are possibly disabled in some way.  It’s a more individualized teaching approach which I do think I would have enjoyed. But if you were to take a wild guess, that didn’t pan out. Also, after having a kid of my own, I can’t imagine being a teacher, in any grade or form.  Teachers are pure saints. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

So, why isn’t college for everyone?  I’m getting there.  Community College didn’t go as planned but I do know one thing; I wasn’t there to make friends this time. I went back to college later, around age twenty-four, to Rowan University, formerly Glassboro State College and finished my undergrad in the most generic major ever.  B.A. in Liberal Studies, minor in Marketing. I couldn’t tell you what liberal studies is nor do I care.  I can tell you that choosing that major didn’t require five or more math courses and no other bullshit courses that I didn’t need. I started out as an English major but turned that over real quick since there were like seventeen poetry and Shakespeare courses that were required. Also, my Shakespeare professor was pushing 100. I was having zero fun and so was he. It was a win-win to vacate thy class. With the liberal studies major, I recall taking one math course in probability which I actually sort of liked and I was able to choose tons of electives like Astronomy and lots of creative writing courses. Choosing liberal studies was a no brainer for me.  I worked really hard and studied my ass off but only because I had to. Which to my point, college isn’t for everyone. I’m not a studious student.  If I want to understand something, I need to take my time, practice and study really fucking hard. I’m a hands on learner; I need books I can flip actual pages with.  I like tangible things.  If I wanted to pass a test, I needed to study extra hard. There are students who don’t have to study one word and they pass their test and graduate college with flying colors. We call those people assholes or just studious students. College may have been for them, but can we all agree they are not street smart by any stretch of the imagination?  I needed to pass all of my courses because I just wanted that piece of paper, sorry, degree. [Insert eye roll]. I didn’t enjoy the college experience, and maybe I would have under different circumstances but I’ll never know. This was just my journey. It was just something I had to do.  Kind of like that time I just had to eat an entire pint of Ben n’ Jerry’s Phish Food.  The only difference was that I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

So when I finally graduated college, I remember spending almost every single day job searching. I spent a good portion of the day on job websites, reaching out to temp agencies, messaging people on Linkedin and directly emailing companies on their website.  You know the drill. I was obsessed with finding a 9-5 which sounds sad now, but back then, it’s what I wanted. It may have taken me a whole damn year to find something, but I did it!  I got the temp job, for one year at an Engineering firm in Philadelphia. I remember meeting my husband for lunch one day in the city when I got the call from the temp agency.  I had gotten the job! The interview went well and I started crying ­because I worked so hard to find something and it finally felt like someone was taking a chance on me!  It felt really good. I worked there for one year as a temp and then came on full time with the company; working there for six more years. It was a decent paying job where, in a very tiny nutshell, I did data entry and tedious work for architects and engineers and collaborated with various subcontractors.  I enjoyed it for the first couple of years, that is until I got too comfy there and in hindsight, probably should have began job searching again.  The company merged with a bigger company and things went downhill fast. About three months before my department got laid off, I saw it coming. It made sense to let go of the document control department, which was our department. There were only four of us and if I’m being honest, the job was unnecessary.  Business is business as my husband loves to say. Companies need to save and make money at the same time. Who would have thought?  Engineers were let go first. Architects and some administrative staff as well were getting the boot. My department was next and I did nothing about it.  Shoulda-coulda-woulda .  I was working from home one day when I got the call that I was laid off.  I cried, I was mad at myself and also took it out on my husband, who knew it was inevitable. I somehow refused to get in touch with reality at the time. I still don’t believe that going back to college and getting that piece of paper was worth it, but did it help me get the job?  Maybe a little.

So if you despise college so much Dana, why did you still go?!  I had zero direction about my future and therefore it felt like I had no other option at the time. A degree was so important. Yeah well so is exercise, getting enough sleep and eating a vegetable once in a while.  If you’re anything like me, or don’t want to go my route ( which I don’t blame you but hey, this was my journey),  but still want to give college the ol’ try, I’d tell you to go for it! But I’d also tell you to really hone in on whatever you’re truly passionate about and make it work for you! Work your ass off if this is something you really want! College shouldn’t be a have to or supposed to. Do what works for YOU. And stop trying to match up with society norms because that won’t work and they suck.

Being laid off on the 3rd day of the New Year appeared to be a blessing in disguise.  So when I said “this wasn’t how I expected my life to turn out,” it wasn’t. Or put more simply, life is hard and 2017 can suck it. It was not my favorite year by any means. So on that day in January, I became an accidental stay at home mom who was trying to figure out, essentially, this new life I had.

 I'm still trying to figure some things out.


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