Meagan Greenough was climbing the corporate ladder as an engineer at Hewlett Packard when she decided to abandon the career quest in favor of a lifestyle that seemed to fly in the face of her upbringing and her education. Rather than ascend another wrung at HP, Greenough quit her job when she had her first and only child, taking up a role that many women abandoned decades ago as a stay-home mom.
Greenough, who now works less than part time as a doula when she is not with her three-year-old son, doesn’t regret the decision. She was already feeling like the corporate career world was getting stagnant, and the pregnancy spurred her to take the plunge into a new career in stay-home motherhood.
“It was a little bit planned and it was a little bit serendipity. I was kind of ready to try a change in my career,” Greenough said.
“I think it was really a coming of age, growing up and maturing and feeling that, ‘Yeah, I’m a pretty good engineer and my career is going really well, but I’m not passionate about it,” Greenough said.
To do that, she had to come to terms with her expectations and the expectations of those around her.
“It’s just a hard thing to acknowledge to yourself and everyone else when you have a master’s degree and say I’m going to sort of throw that away and stay home with my kids.”
It took some adjusting. After relocating to Bend, Greenough and her husband had to learn to live on a single income. They downsized their home and reined in spending. There was also the shock of having no predetermined schedule.
“I think what was hard, and what I had to figure out, was not having the structure that a job gives. I’m an engineer, a type A person, so I had to build that in.”
Wednesday, for example, is always grocery day. And Friday is swimming at the pool.
Greenough said that opting to be a stay-home mom is the best decision that she’s ever made—one that allows her to be there for all those important and fleeting moments of her child’s development. Still, she can’t help but occasionally compare what she is doing to what other career women are doing.
“When I talk to people on one level people are very supportive. They think it’s a fabulous thing to do. But, still, on a larger societal level, I feel sometimes like I’m not doing the most important job in our society,” she said, even though her heart tells her differently.
Greenough shares a story about a recent conversation that reinforced the dichotomy. Greenough said she got a call from her older sister, a high-flying corporate consultant who was sharing the details of some important accomplishment.
On the other end was Greenough standing in her living room—in her pajamas.
“It was past 11 a.m. and we had built a fort with a sheet and we were pretending to hide from bears. So I had to reframe my thoughts to remember what I’m doing is super important, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.”
While Greenough expects that she will, one day, re-enter the workforce, for now, she’s happy to be at home where at least one three-year-old feels she belongs.
“Sometimes I’ll be playing outside, riding bikes with my son and I’ll think, I could be in a meeting at HP right now,” Greenough said with a laugh.
Like other moms, Greenough knows that there will always be meetings. But there will only be one childhood, and she wants to be there for it.