Over a year ago I had written this post, announcing to the world the decision I had made to return to working outside of the home, addressing the question – did I have to? Or, seemingly worse, did I want to?
These were the two questions I was asked most when the decision was made. Do you have to? Is that because you want to?
The post was never published.
As I read it over, what I had written seemed to have turned into some kind of defence for the trial over what is my life. I was partaking in this debate about the proper place of the modern-day mom, the changes we’ve seen in childrearing and the divide that can exist between working moms and stay-at-home ones.
I don’t want to participate.
I was fortunate enough to stay at home with the twins for 18 beautiful months, that was 13 months longer than I had with Hailey, and 10 months longer than I had with Zach. I am thankful.
In those 18 months, it definitely wasn’t all roses. There were plenty of days and weeks where I would completely lose myself in the chaos of dirty diapers, laundry and meal planning. Managing that budget, the excel spreadsheet always open on my desktop, figuring out how to live on one income. Then there was the texting. Texting my husband constantly, interrupting his day to tell him how frustrated I was in that moment, preparing him with an understanding of what kind of wife he’d be coming home to. Grocery shopping became my escape, my “quiet time” by myself. I needed that. Time to be just me.
But I got to be there. Every milestone, every appointment, every bad dream. Life was simple, if I let it be. Days spent in sweatpants, walks to the park, early morning snuggles and afternoon naps. They looked to me. I held all of the answers, solved all of the problems. I had the magic kisses to make everything better, until dad got home from work and I was chopped liver.
I have been fortunate enough to have worked outside the home as a mom of four this past school year. An opportunity that never would have presented itself had it not been for my very own mother, generously donating her time and her sanity to take on the dual role of nanny and grandma. A near impossible feat, but she pulled it off. I am thankful.
In those 10 months, I learned more about myself than I had ever before. Finding balance between home and work was next to impossible, home would almost always lose out, take second place. I relied on the helping hands of my mother to pick up my slack at home, which was completely unfair. I would hear about the days my children were having through the words of my mom. Luckily for me, she was always snapping pictures and videos of them, so at least I have a visual representation of what I missed. There were plenty of tears over lost time. I had to learn to share the magic of the kisses, which, news flash, you don’t learn to share… you struggle with jealousy and loss of self-worth.
But I got to be me – just wearing a different “suit”. I got to work with the most beautiful children, and fall in love with them, and support each of their own hard-working moms. It was my turn to play a different part in the village we need to raise our children. I learned new ways of practicing patience, and to appreciate my own children more. Lots of learning. And grocery shopping? I’ve actually started taking my children with me. Part out of necessity (Caleb has been known to work out of town) – but not all. We get to take a little time out. Together. The free cookies at Superstore help a lot.
So when it comes to the kind of mom we need to be for our kids, there really is no right or wrong answer. No verdict of guilty or not guilty. Well – like most moms, I’m always feeling guilty about something. But, most things in life aren’t laid out in black and white, so of course the right way to be a mother would be all kinds of grey.
I’d like to think we are supposed to know when what we are doing is the “right” thing for our family. But I don’t. I go back and forth on my decision daily. I have moments during my work day when I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve been presented. But for some strange reason, Sunday evenings I’m at my worst, debating the worth of the sacrifice I’m making…
I suppose what it needs to come down to, is that I’m thankful to have somewhat of a choice. Although both roads are winding and unclear – we’d be able to navigate either of them through.
This season of our life proves to be a difficult one. The days are going by too quickly, yet not quickly enough.