Meet Bre!!!! Bre and I interned together in Washington, DC and she's always been one of my favorites. I was in literal tears when she first shared her thoughts with me for today's feature because I know her message will resonate with so many women. Bre's story is one that is relatable and evidence that all of us are just figuring life out together.
She is living her DREAM... and it's a dream that she didn't even know she had until recently. Read on to learn more about this incredible woman.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career
Recently a new couple moved into the other half of our duplex. We took the traditional plate of cookies over a few nights after their move-in and introduced ourselves. We asked where they were from, what they did, and so on, and then they returned the questions. When my husband said, “I’m a student, and Bre’s a teacher at Metropolitan Community College,” I just stared at him, waiting for him to finish (with “and a stay-at-home mom”). But he didn’t. Rude. So I jumped in with, “But most of my time is spent with these little ones.”
That was kind of the moment I realized that I am not only OK with being a stay-at-home mom, but I’m proud of it, I thrive off it, and I want people to know about it. For most of my life I couldn’t see myself as a mom. I knew I’d have kids one day, but I didn’t necessarily want them, and I certainly didn’t want momhood to be my main identity. Well, shoot girl shoot. Now I do. I love it.
So, I’m a stay-at-home mom, first and foremost. I spend most of my day lying on my (dusty) hardwood floor, mesmerized while I watch my ten-month-old daughter discover stacking things or my three-year-old son make up words like “corch” (I found out five days into his using this word that it meant a basketball hoop) or tell me things like, “Mom, I growed up and married you in my dream.” Second, and way less important to me although it’s still something I adore, I teach writing classes at a local community college. It’s a night class, once a week, full of first-generation college students, second-language learners, moms, and dads. I love teaching and I love being with students.
How does your community of women you surround yourself with support you?
The women I choose to develop lasting relationships with are diverse and unique. But most (if not all) of them have at least one thing in common: they believe women are powerful, influential, and deserving of respect. Most of my closest friends are long-distance, so much of the time I’m driving or my husband is studying and the kids are in bed, I’m on the phone. Or viewing and sending Marco Polo videos. One of my close friends has a killer job in San Francisco. She understands stuff like coding, investing, and management, and basically gets promoted annually. She also recently went through a heart-wrenching divorce. But every time we talk on the phone, she asks me how I am, how my children are, how my husband is. She thinks of me and cares about me. And although she doesn’t have children, she has never made me feel less than her for choosing to have children or to stay at home with them. She’s always been supportive.
Another close friend is opposite from me in nearly everything: movie taste, food taste, political leaning, and educational interests. But when I call her and tell her about the woes of potty-training, she listens and says, “You can do it, mama. You got this. Just another stage and you’ll get through it, you always do.”
And another friend is not at all religious, but she’s eager to hear about my life and feelings, including spirituality. She is so respectful of how I feel, and we have open conversations about religion and family often and comfortably. She is friends with and has introduced me to a number of wonderful people who are lesbian, transgender, or asexual (among many other identities), and her love and respect for people of all backgrounds--religious, cultural, and social--have made me a better person.
I love that you shared with me that it's a completely feminist decision to decide to stay home to raise your children. What does that mean to you?
I used to think that women who stayed home with their kids only did so because they weren’t interested in careers. Or because they just loved doing the kid thing, or the kitchen thing, or the overall domesticity thing. And I so wasn’t into that. I used to tell people that I wasn’t getting married until after grad school (I got married one year before graduating undergrad--oops), and that I wouldn’t have kids until I was 30 (I had my oldest when I was 24, in the middle of my graduate program--oops again). I thought true feminists got professional degrees and great careers and were driven... and then met a boy and so on.
But then I had my surprise baby, and I fell so deep in love with him so quickly. And I got more love than I knew what to do with. And it filled up my heart and overflowed into my whole body and just changed me. And I didn’t want to miss any part of his learning and growing. And I knew that he would be the happiest and the healthiest if he had an attentive, present mother. So I decided to be that. I finished my graduate program, which was a wonderful decision. He was just over one at that point. But I put my plans for a doctorate on hold for a while.
I had a hard time after graduate school. The first six months of staying home full time wasn’t easy. I was used to a very fast pace, productive, busy, full schedule. And it seemed like I didn’t do anything all day. But over time, my perspective changed. And my definition of fast paced has changed to getting our teeth brushed by 9 AM; productive is now finding the alphabet while reading a book; busy is doing play-dough and making cookies in one afternoon; and our schedule is full if we make it out of the house once or twice a day.
I feel like I couldn’t be any happier and like I am the luckiest woman in the world.
What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self re: your career aspirations?
Is this bad? Nothing. I honestly wouldn’t! It has taken me a long time to learn to love life, and nothing could have sped that process up. I just needed to go through difficult things and learn from them.
If I had to, though, I would have said, “Study what you love in college. Don’t do something just because it’s mom-friendly. You can do anything and be a mom, and still love both of them.” I was an IR major and I was obsessed with it. After DC I changed to speech pathology because DC was so intense that I thought I’d never be able to have a family and still do the career I wanted. Huge mistake, yo. I hated speech pathology, and got a freaking degree in it. So stupid. I totally should have stuck with IR, because I could have done whatever I wanted! For real. I ended up getting a master’s in English anyway, because I love writing and editing and teaching. So it worked out in the end.
What is your career-related mantra?
For mom-ing: Follow your heart. Don’t listen to self-help books, sleep training techniques, mommy blogs unless it resonates with your heart. Don’t compare yourself to others, and if social media makes you do that, take a break. And the last thing: put down your freaking phone and be present. These baby angels need you.
For teaching writing: I love writing, but I love people more. So I care way more about helping someone believe in themselves than I do about them remembering subject-verb agreement.