Here’s the thing. We live in an age where women are expected to go to work everyday. Stay-at-home moms are quickly becoming an urban legend. We, as women, tend to define our lives by our jobs. We label our careers (account executive, director of finance, general manager) and wear them like badges of honor. I know this because I did it for 12 years. We willingly sacrifice time with our families so that we can bring home the bacon, which we then fry up in the proverbial pan. We clean the house, we change the diapers, and we get up in the morning and head back to work. We drop our kids at daycare, where the teachers get to bear witness to each new miracle happening in our little ones’ lives.
And then….we reach our breaking point, or at least some of us do. We wake up and we realize that we’re tired of being Super Woman. It’s as if someone punched us in the face and made us face up to the fact that our families are suffering, because we’re not here to pick up the pieces. I understand that there are a WHOLE LOT of women who would give anything to be able to stay at home with the kids, but they just can’t make it on a single income. I get that. I really do. And I applaud those who can handle the job and the family. I, however, am not one of those women.
That’s right. I’m not that girl. I worked upwards of 50 hours a week for 12 years. I never saw my husband. Forget taking care of everybody else; I didn’t even have time to take care of myself.
So I was talking to a friend today (a recent stay-at-homer), and she’s making the transition from bringing home a paycheck to being a full-time mom and wife. It’s hard, this transition. You begin to feel bad about yourself, since it’s been hammered into our heads since we were little girls that it’s our duty to all womankind to get a job. You begin to doubt your decision, since all of a sudden, you clip coupons and buy generic soda, whereas before, you never even thought twice about it. People look at you strangely when they ask where you work and you tell them that you don’t (even weirder for me, since I don’t have kids yet. No kids AND no job? Yep. I must be a freak).
BUT. Then our husbands come home from work, and dinner’s on the table. The laundry is always done, the sheets are always clean, and the floor stays vacuumed. Cookies get baked with regularity. The dogs go to the vet. All the little details that you haven’t had time for suddenly get attended. You get to see your child’s reaction to every little thing. You don’t miss out on the miracles.
I realize how lucky I am. I know that I’ve been given an amazing gift. So. To all you stay-at-home moms: You are all my heroes. You have the hardest, most demanding job in the world. True, you don’t bring home a paycheck, but what you do is so much more important. And if you start to feel bad because you’re not the “breadwinner” (and yes, apparently people still use this word), or because you realize that you no longer make a financial contribution to the family coffers, just remember that you were there to kiss the boo-boo. You were the one that made those cookies.
As someone reminded me today, everyday should be a special occasion. That’s why I quit my job. Life is too short not to do exactly what you want with it…..no matter what anybody else says or thinks.