Happy Monday! Which really doesn’t mean much to me anymore, except that I have to wait all week to get some extra time in with Michael again. It doesn’t mean much to me because technically im unemployed now, but it’s also because my work doesn’t start on Monday and end just because it’s Friday.
As my maternity leave was coming to an end this summer I decided that, for me, there was no way I could miss out on these days with my baby girl and go back to work. So I didn’t go back. I know that’s not possible for everyone and how lucky I am to get to be the one to rock her to sleep for every nap and be the first one she sees when she wakes up is not lost on me. But we were lucky enough to listen to Dave Ramsey when we did and having no debt and a paid for house really put us in a great spot to make this decision a lot easier. So I decided to stay at home with her for at least her first year and see where we’re at after that. So I guess I’m a stay at home mom now? I never thought I would have this title added to my resume of life, but life has always pleasantly surprised me and I can honestly say that this is, by far, the most gratifying, soul-satisfying work I’ve ever done.
I also understand that this job is not something that everyone wants. From moms who choose that working is best for their family, or who just prefer it that way, to women who have no desire to be a mother at all, everyone’s decision on how they want to parent or not and live their lives is a very individual and personal decision. Really, when I think about how things worked out, it makes me all the more thankful to the women’s liberation movement and the women that fought hard to give us the ability to CHOOSE how we want to live our lives. Because I’m by no means saying my way is the right way, it’s just what makes my soul happy, so to have the luxury to pursue that is an amazing privilege.
Although the one thing I don’t understand about this job is why they call it being a stay at home mom. I’m not just “staying at home”. This is work. It’s hard work. It’s nonstop work. It’s work that doesn’t stop when she’s napping or end when Michael gets home. It’s a permanent full time position plus some! To be not only a caretaker, but an educator, facilitator, nutritionist, sleep specialist, nurturer, playmate, guardian, advocate, and observer just to name a few roles.. and to also find time for my own self care and marriage is a tall order somedays. But to me these roles have been invigorating to take on and to learn how to get better at them. It’s a constant learning process and then as soon as you think you have something down, give it a month and it’ll all change! There has been no bigger challenge in my life that has made me grow and learn more than this.
Learning how to be the best mother I can be has taught me more about myself than I ever realized it would. It’s ripped open my ego and exposed my deepest flaws to show me the areas I have to grow. It’s taught me when I need to ask for help and where I need to allow myself more grace. It’s also shown me that my mind and body are stronger than I ever thought possible and that my intuition will guide me if I just stop and listen to it.
Seeing myself through her eyes has given me a new perspective on how I understand myself. Who do I want this girl to grow up and say her mom is? What are the feelings and memories I want her to remember about her time spent with me? What really are my values and how will I communicate those to her when the time comes? Was I present when I was with her? Did I put away the distractions, look her in the eyes, and really truly listen?
The work of being a mother and the way you raise your child has long lasting impacts. Be it positive or negative, the decisions you make can affect generations of people. So to be charged with guiding a human being into this world in a way that they feel safe, valued, and loved to me is the most important work. This is how we can change the world. This is sacred work.