A direct consequence of major life changes, the good ones and the bad ones, is how much I over analyze everything. It’s exhausting to be quite frank. I’ve had two major changes this year, one is a beautiful new daughter. The other was the loss of my grandmother. At her funeral, I was able to get up and tell some stories about her and I’ve been thinking a lot about that wonderful opportunity I had to stand up there and talk about such an amazing woman.
My train of thought went like this, “I really enjoyed getting speak to all those people about Grandma. I was good at that…I had forgotten until then how much I love that. Wow, what would it be like if I were actually working and doing that every day?” And then it led into thinking about the career paths I could be on right now instead of wiping noses, changing diapers, playing in sand boxes, teaching the alphabet, etc etc etc.
Sometimes I think that stay-at-home mothers like to think that because we have given up (what feels like) everything that our children will turn out better, will be smarter, will be more successful, will be healthier, more loved, more, more, more….and the truth is, that’s not true.
My husband was in daycare. His mother was a teacher, she loved her job, she didn’t want to stay home. My husband is amazing. He loves God, he goes to church, he’s never done drugs, he’s healthy, he made straight A’s all through school, he has a master’s, he has a great job…..and while I think he’s exceptional , he isn’t the only kid who turned out great even though his parents sent him to daycare.
I have a friend who is raising two amazing little girls (with another baby on the way.) Her kids are great. She’s a great mom. And she works. And guess what? She’s pouring everything into her children in the same way I do. And I would bet a small fortune she feels as though she has had to make some pretty big sacrifices for her kids too.
Or what about my cousin in Peru? She has an eight year old who is one of the smartest, most well adjusted kids I know.
So sometimes I start asking myself (and Todd, and my mom, and anyone who will let me whine to them) why did I give up graduate school & a future as a counselor to stay home with my kids?
And I’m not really sure that I have the right answer. Except, today my son asked me to dig holes in his sand box. And I could. My daughter had shots last week & her legs are really sore because of them, and it’s me that gets to stay home with her & rock her while she cries. I taught my son how to mail a letter to his great-great aunt, we made home made cookies, we played tag in the back yard and we might even make it to the local lake today to feed the ducks. I’m so happy that it was me here doing those things, instead of someone else.
Then again, the very best answer may be a very simple one, “I stay home because this is what I want.” I get to be here and I get to know that I’m doing my very best for what is right for me and my family.
A stay-at-home parent might not be possible for someone else’s family or maybe it’s a dad that chooses to stay home or a grandparent chooses to take care of their grandchildren during the day. There are so many formulas and what it boils down to is “What is best for me? What is best for my husband? What is best for my children?” And today, on October 1st, that choice is staying home with my kids.
Do I wish it was different sometimes? Sure. I’m sure some working mothers want to trade places with me every now again too.
But, I firmly believe in the choice to stay home. I believe in the choice to work outside of the home. I believe, that when a woman has that choice then feminism has come full circle. And the beauty of being a woman, is that often times in our lives we are called to fulfill different roles. Ten years from now? I might have been able to finish my masters. Twenty years from now?I may be head of a non-profit, giving speeches. But today, I am CEO of my own non-profit, giving speeches on the importance of brushing your teeth and I get to listen to my three year old’s speech on why digging holes in sandboxes is so much fun.
“How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a [mother's] function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.” ― G.K. Chesterton