I got my first job when I was fourteen years old. From the moment I received my first pay check, I was on a one-way track to the fast lane. I was an independent woman making her own money; a girl who was unafraid of glass ceilings. I grew into a woman who refused to fall into a typical female role, and I was determined to make my own impression. I was on a path to bust down the barriers of society, and no man or child was going to stop me from doing that. I was kicking down doors and tackling success, one promotion at a time.
Looking back, when I had been asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, a Stay-At-Home-Mom was never an option that had crossed my mind. The sounds of my newborn crying for the first time changed all of that. A reality tornado spun its way into the delivery room and sucked up all the priorities I swore were indestructible. What I thought I had wanted got swirled around and spit out when I held my brand-new baby girl. When I looked into her eyes for the very first time, I hopped right off that corporate ladder, chucked it in to a big pile of irrelevance, and it burst into flames as I carried my child off into domesticated bliss.
Any one who stays home with their kids knows it is not butterflies and homemade cookies. It’s endless hours of work with out a pay check, and we don’t get to clock out. Stay at home parents spend more time with up and coming developers who can’t carry a sophisticated conversation. All day, we wipe butt’s, we make lunches, we entertain and sooth, we argue with elf sized dictators, we drop off and we pick up, we clean up after, and we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process. As we spend another day with our hair uncombed and our cold cup of coffee, we debate whether we should return to work. We long for adult interaction that isn’t financial conversations with our significant other. And just when we think we’re about to lose our minds, our little babies do something incredible like smile for the first time, roll over, sit up on their own, utter “Mama” or “Dada” or pee in the potty. We witness a first time, or we share a moment with them that we couldn’t if we had to drop them off at day care. We remember why we chose to stay home.
I have tremendous respect for the women who maintain their careers and care for their children. They rock their meetings, crunch their numbers, and collect their checks like bosses. Then, they come home and kill their second job of being wife and super hero mom. They pick up the toys, clean baby faces, and read bed time stories. At the end of the day, we are all mom’s, crashing in to our beds, suffering from insomnia and anticipating the next day that awaits us. As parents, we do what is best for us because even though we had children, we should not have to give up what is important to us. It teaches our children that they can be anything and that we don’t have to fall into roles that society has written out for us. Our children and our careers can both be very important to us and we should not have to pick one over the other.
Staying home was a decision I made, and I don’t regret it. I’m still very new at motherhood and I may discover that staying home is not my thing. I may choose to go back to work at some point. Right now, however, I get to be the main care giver for my child and it has been the best experience. Maybe it’s the ignorance of my “New Mom,” badge that makes me feel this way, but it’s the best job I have ever had. Most days I am exhausted and at times worn thin, but there has never been a morning when I woke up not wanting to go to work. Even when my baby is cranky and wont sleep. A tough day is still a good day because I get to be the one who is there for her. I get to spend my day with my new baby and I get to focus on being her mom.
Just like any job, I usually start my day with a very large cup of coffee. If I get to bed early the night before, I can get up before baby and sneak in a hot cup. I check my emails and open my computer to get some writing done. At about 6am I pour another cup of coffee, throw in a load of laundry and make the baby’s bottles for the day. By 630 the baby is up and ready to start her day. On good days, we are sticking to schedules, learning and mastering new skills, and playing so mama can grab a bite or clean something up. On cranky days, schedules get tossed in the garbage and I spend the day carrying, soothing, distracting and entertaining a very fussy baby boss. Most days I drink reheated coffee, restart the dryer multiple times and the dishes pile in the sink. I stay up late to catch up on the writing I didn’t get done during the day and crash in to bed only to toss and turn all night. I get excited about Fridays because I get to spend the weekend not doing chores. I get to spend time with my family doing fun things, and I get to pop open a bottle of wine. Then Sunday night brings another Monday morning and the week starts all over again.
It’s strenuous and it’s exhausting. It’s long hours with no breaks and there are no days off. But, it’s also getting to see my baby smile on a Tuesday afternoon, it’s watching her sleep in my arms after a bottle, and sitting next to her as she plays with her toys. It’s baby giggles and tiny toes. It’s watching her make that adorable face when she concentrates on her purple monkey. Its little hands reaching up for “Mama,” and sleepy nuzzles when it’s time for a nap. It’s getting to be with her every day. I traded in a good job for a better one. The best thing of all, however, is that my little girl get’s to be with her mama and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
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