Opting Out & Leaning In: A Guest Post by Betsy Osman

You are in for such a treat! I'm so pleased to share a guest piece by Betsy Osman. For those of you who don't know Betsy, I am certain you'll enjoy the perspective of this insightful, funny, inspirational mom and writer. Meet Betsy! 

Betsy married my stand-in brother Aaron Osman. (I was lacking in that department, as the middle of three girls.) Aaron's sister, Sarah, was my childhood bestie. I spent years under the Osman eaves: Admiring Jim's rose bushes, listening to Vicki on the piano, playing cabbage patch dolls, sliding head-first down the carpeted stairs, dressing up poor Molly the basset hound.

Fast forward 30-ish years, and I'm lucky to call Aaron's wife Betsy a friend and Instagram pen pal. Our girls are close in age, and we share many of the same hilarities and hurdles. Here's the lovely Osman family of Mt. Zion, Ill.

Below you'll find Betsy's take on opting out (of the traditional workforce) to be a Stay at Home Mom, then leaning in again, when the time was right. Had me in laughter and tears! 

In Betsy's words:

A little over a year ago, I made the decision to leave my full-time job and try my hand at being a Stay at Home Mom. I was worn down - tired of marshaling out all my resources and carrying the heavy, guilted weight that came from missing out on my kids' everydayness. I longed to be able to apply my creative energy to my family; to make each day less about my “To Do” list, and more about my “Do, too!” list.

So I took the off-ramp, directed toward home.

The months that followed were … lifey. Busy. Happy. Hard. Exhausting. Freeing. I loved and loathed the pace of home life. Some days I appreciated my husband for allowing me to have this time in life. Other days I completely resented how easy things seemed for him.

I watched the girls grow and change. And over our long days together, I came to enjoy them in new ways. They didn’t always get the best version of me, but they always got me. For everything. Every question, every special event, every field trip, every lost tooth, every nightmare. I was witness to each of those moments.

Over those months, I struggled with new ways to define my own value. I wasn’t meeting huge professional goals and deadlines. I wasn’t building endowment funds or capital campaigns. I was building humans. In my professional life, my successes were seen and acknowledged. At home, my forward-momentum was usually anonymous. Overlooked and underrated. And the pay sucked.

One day I was talking with a girlfriend, confessing my fear that I wasn’t living a value-fueled life. My years of study and education and professional accomplishment – what was it all worth? I’d worn yoga pants three days in a row, spent an hour researching “coffee filter snowflake projects,” and had just literally burst into tears watching Dumbo’s mama be sent to circus jail. I didn’t need a university degree for this work.

“It matters, right?” I asked my girlfriend, swallowing hard over the lump in my throat. “My kids will remember these days and that I’d made them the priority, right? That’s where the value is, right?”

She hugged me tight.

“Betsy, you don’t need to assign where your value lies,” she replied. “That idea is fickle. And false. Our value as women and mothers and human beings is inherent. We don’t need credentials or a title or even a witness to our hard work. We’re valuable. Hard stop. End of story.”

Hard stop. End of story. And the beginning of a new way of thinking.

While fear, anxiety and self-doubt threaten to rob women of our joy no matter where our work is happening, I have come to realize that our value isn’t tied up in what or even where. It’s tied up in who.

In the end, you are the valuable person doing the work, instead of a person doing valuable work.

My season at home is soon coming to an end. I’ve just accepted a new marketing position and am so looking forward to re-engaging my off-ramped professional self. I’ll be taking with me all kinds of new talent I’ve cultivated during my time at home. Multi-tasking, encouraging otherwise unwilling individuals, patience, and ninja-level coffee filter snowflake project googling skills.

And huge handfuls of humility.

I’ve learned much about how it feels to sit on both sides of the fence: Opting out and Leaning in. And whether I’m wearing yoga pants or high heels, I’m leaning in to the acceptance that our value lies simply in who we are.

I hope you see yourself in that idea, too.