Competing thoughts – stay at home mom

Hi Brooke,

I have been a stay at home mom for years and have considered going back to work. I sometimes have a thought that I want to create more value in the world and contribute beyond my family, especially considering that my kids will be grown soon and out of the house. That thought makes me start looking for jobs and explore career options.

However, I also have a thought that I “HAVE” to work because it was expected of me. I have a thought that I haven’t lived up to my “potential” – I was always considered to be so smart and high achieving but never really had a career, despite my success in school and level of education. This thought makes me me also start looking for jobs and explore career options, but it’s coming from a place of “should” and guilt and shame and lots of pressure.

What often happens is that I decide I want to change the second thought, and just enjoy being a stay at home mom. But then I get the urge to “dabble” in a hobby and imagine it turning into something bigger (the first thought) — only to then have it turn into a big “should” again and all the excitement turns back into pressure and expectation and shame. I ping pong between the two thoughts and never feel like I enjoy being a mom fully, or never fully commit to going back to work.

Is this the case of just deciding one way or the other, and committing to it? That there is no right answer and I should just pick?