Like most adults, I work my butt off Monday thru Friday. My schedule varies, but I generally start my day around 0630 and my work load gets lifted by half around 1600. Like all parents, I’m rarely “off the clock”. My work day consists of catering to two very demanding clients, ages 3 and 11 months. They require my full attention during every waking moment. I am their personal assistant, chef, chauffeur, stylist, custodian, and at times, jester. I am their sole butt wiper for the majority of the day. They count on me for comfort and for safety. It is non-stop, thankless work. I may not get a paycheck, but you can bet your ass this is my full-time job.
I instantly get that knot in my stomach whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, or when am I going to get a real job. I realize that in this day and age, many people don’t think being a stay-at-home-mom is “enough”. We’re lazy. We simply don’t want to work. We sit on our asses all day eating Doritos and watching soaps, while our children play happily with their Legos on the floor beside us.
I too have given in to the idea that I should be doing more. I tried being a daycare provider. It wasn’t for me. I tried putting the kids in daycare so I could work outside the home, and it was an awful experience. I worked evenings and weekends, opposite my husband’s schedule sacrificing family time and and sleep. I took some community college classes in an effort to get my degree – until we ran out of money to pay for my tuition. Now, I board dogs on the weekends. It brings in barely enough money to cover a couple of our utility bills, and looks pathetic in comparison to my husband’s proper paycheck. There are moments when I’m racked with guilt because it’s my fault that I don’t bring in a significant income. That I didn’t finish college before reproducing, and therefore have no skills to qualify me beyond “caregiver”. And I must be lazy, because I have no energy or sanity left by the time Friday rolls around, and I rely on my husband to help me take care of the kids when he is home.
But you want to know why that is? I’m all out of energy at the end of the week because I’m giving this job – SAHM – my all. My babies won’t be young forever, and a career can wait. There is no paycheck – but you cannot put a price on the value of my kids being raised by their own mama. I never have to experience the ache of dropping their tiny selves off with someone else who could not possibly love them as much as I do.
There are parents who need to work because they cannot afford to live their lifestyle with one parent staying home. There are also parents who work because a big, fancy house and having two cars is more important to them than being home with their kids. And who am I to judge? It’s not a competition. In a way, I feel lucky to not crave some of those expensive things like extra square footage or cable TV. It would be nice to travel, and someday we will. It would be nice hire a babysitter so we could have
more date nights, and someday we will. But for now, I am thankful that I have a husband who understands that this is my full-time job. Raising my kids is important work, and it is enough. Now, I just have to work on reminding myself of that and ridding my heart of that pesky mom guilt of which it seems we are all.. wait for it.. guilty of.