When did motherhood lose its value as a profession? True, there is no formal exchange of payment for services rendered, but motherhood pays in ways not considered official currency. You cannot put a value on that extra cuddle. Motherhood is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding jobs out there, though seemingly little value is attributed to it.
This question is top of mind as I make the transition to a SAHM after years in the working world. Following the premature birth of our second daughter, there was little doubt that my next role needed to be full-time motherhood. As news spread of my next career move, I was often asked what else I would be doing with my time. As if motherhood was not enough to fill the day.
I do give inquiring minds the benefit of the doubt, as this is quite a departure from my past life. Yes, I say past life as I truly feel like a different person since our daughter made her arrival into this world 15 weeks before her due date. We are lucky compared to some families facing the same uncertain future, for which we are eternally grateful, but the road has been long. The road ahead is equally long, full of twists and turns we have yet to consider. Thus, my husband and I made the difficult decision that I would stay home for the foreseeable future. It is not that different than what we have been doing for the past year as maintained the recommended isolation through cold and flu season. The timeline has just shifted outward, until the number of appointments slow, and the future is a bit clearer.
While staying home was an easy emotional decision, practical things got a bit more complicated. We knew this was the best thing for our family, but financially there was an obvious toll we had to consider. Adjusting from a two-income household to one does not happen overnight. So, from that standpoint, how we will make ends meet, I understand the question of “what else” I will be doing with my time. But is it really anyone’s business? We feel fortunate to have been able to make the choice, so we should not have to explain how we do so. It may not always be fun, but there is no better time than the present to switch our priorities.
The other frustrating aspect of the “what else” question is the implication that the days at home will consist of endless hours on the couch eating bon bons. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, as most SAHMs will attest. True, there is the opportunity to catch some small moments for myself throughout the day, but that is no different from the coffee or lunch breaks I took while working outside the home. Most days are fast paced from start to finish as I work to care for our family and keep the household afloat.
While I strive for the balance some women who work from home achieve, I do not think that is right for our family now. What I must remember is that it’s ok. Right now, our priorities have skewed in one direction, and over time, that pendulum will shift. Once our youngest gains some more independence I would love to re-enter the working world. Likely work will just take on a different form than it did before. Thankfully modern technology offers parents opportunities to work flexible hours, often from remote locations. These are key requirements in any job search going forward. With a shift in priorities has come a new realization as to what matters to me. Time with our girls and a slower paced family life outweighs my desire for traditional career success. What the future has in store is anyone’s guess, but I am looking forward to a new challenge.
The current challenge I am facing is slowly shifting my mindset to life at home. The questions from others have put doubts in my mind about the value I am adding to our family. At the beginning I approached each day similar to how I did at the office. Armed with my to-do list, ready to take on the world. Though, I learned quickly that things do not get done around the house as quickly as I imagined. At first I would feel badly when did not accomplish the objectives I set out, but have learned success looks different these days. A good day with my girls means to-do lists are tossed aside and I am fully present as we play. That is not always possible, life does happen, but adjusting my expectations is the first step.
Having been a working Mom with our first born, I constantly fought to dispel the guilt often attributed to relying on daycare to take the reins during the day. Now that I am on the other side, I feel guilty that I do not contribute enough to our family. But you know what ladies, we are enough. Being the best mother we can to our kiddos is the most important job there is. Whether that means working outside the home, from home, or being a full-time Mom, what is best for each family is different. We are enough. Plus, I can assure you if motherhood was a paid position, my wage would rival any corporate role!