When I became a stay-at-home mom, going back to work was years and years away. But those years went quickly, and that going back time is fast approaching. In a few short months all of my kids will be in school full time, and I’ll begin a new chapter. So do I fancy up my resume? Do I see if any of my work wardrobe still fits? (Or is even remotely in style!) Or, do I continue being a stay-at-home mom just a little bit longer? I mean, I don’t have to go back to work, right? We’ve managed this long. What’s a couple more years?
My husband is self employed. His work is the antithesis of a 9-to-5. His job is as soon as he wakes up, until he goes to bed. It is exhausting to watch, but he loves it. His motivation is success and providing for our family. But in order for this to happen, he needs someone to run interference with our four kids and a needy dog. That person is me. I do wake ups, breakfast, drop offs, pick ups, sick days, doctor’s appointments, and all of the other minutiae that he doesn’t have time for. And I do this all gladly. I want to continue in this role. And right now, that’s what our family needs.
Our children are all still grade-school age and attend the same school. I volunteer for things like playground duty and the book fair. My oldest will be in 8th grade next year, mere moments from high school. I want to soak up the days that I catch him laughing in the hall with his friends. Where he will very casually say, “Hi Mom,” when he sees me so as to not draw too much attention. So soon he’ll be gone and I won’t have those chances again.
My baby will be in kindergarten and I want to be able to spy some of her firsts. When she will so proudly announce, “That’s my mom!” with a giant wave. And then there are my middle two boys, who sometimes like me, sometimes don’t. But I take my chances to say hello anyway; more often than not, I get a smile. I will only have this open door to their lives for so long. I’m not ready to shut that yet.
I have also discovered something about myself these last several years at home. I am not your typical career woman. I don’t miss trying to climb the corporate ladder. I am happy on the lower rungs managing a household. I have no interest in running a Fortune 500 company. There are so many people much better qualified for that than me. It’s not that I can’t. I am intelligent, hard working, and talented. But my gifts are better served at home. And that’s OK.
So what will I do with all of my time? There is plenty. I will still do laundry and clean the house, but for the first time in many, many years, I’ll be able to focus on myself for a few minutes. I will sit down at my computer and put words to paper that have been in my heart for years. I’m going to write that book, I swear! I also do freelance work which allows me the opportunity to be super flexible. I will continue to serve my passion and still be able to be at school for a sick kid. I will visit any time I want with my mom, who — as it pains me more than anything to say —won’t be around forever, and I want to be there with her as long as I can. I will continue my volunteer work and hopefully add to it. I will be fulfilled, I promise.
But please, I beg, don’t make me feel guilty for making this choice. I know that it is a privilege for me to be here, but that’s because my husband busts his ass for me to be home. He wants me here so that he’s not doubly burned. And that’s OK for us. We aren’t living the high life so that we can afford for me to do this right now. We aren’t rich by any means, but we live happily and fully on one income.
My family is only going to be young once and I will have unlimited access to them for such a short time. Before I know it I’m going to be handing off car keys and things are really going to change. But for now, I’m the chauffeur and chef and chief operating officer of our not-so-tight ship and I’m taking full advantage.