Monday, January 28, 2013
After spending the last 7+ years as a stay-at-home mom, I recently returned to work on a full-time temporary basis while my husband stays home with our kids. I have learned a few surprising things during this time, and I hope these lessons stick with me. Here are a few:
When I’ve spent the whole day at home with the kids, I am typically counting down the minutes until my husband walks in the door. It’s not at all uncommon for me to have one thing on my mind in that moment – “I want a break!” Caring for children is hard work, emotionally taxing, and physically exhausting. But I have not appreciated as I should the blessing of a hard working husband. My husband’s job is physically demanding, and he carries the weight of responsibility to not only do his job well, but also to provide for our family’s needs. He lays down his life for us every day, and one expression of that is his devotion to work hard. I don’t want to take that for granted anymore. I don’t want to consider my role at home as the important one, and his work outside the home as an interference. Yes, the work of a husband and father goes far beyond earning a living, but the work he does matters more than I have shown.
Please don’t throw anything at your computer screen. I know I’ve heard this kind of thing before and thought “Yeah, right! Why don’t YOU come to my house and try to make dinner with 5 kids underfoot. And give your best shot at trying to get them to stop fighting before Daddy walks in the door. Good Luck!” I’m not saying that I will, or even should, have everything perfect every day when he gets home from work. But I am confident that I haven’t given this the effort that it deserves. When I come home from work to find the kids at the table and a delicious hot meal waiting for me, I feel incredibly grateful, and incredibly humbled. After a full day at work, I am tired and hungry. (Much more tired and hungry than it seems I should be after just sitting at a computer and talking on the phone all day.) I know that he’s tired too, and yet I walk in the door and find our kids’ needs being met, and my needs anticipated. In that moment, food and happy kids are my love language. After the first few days of working, I thought silently “Why don’t I do this for you? Why don’t I work harder to make your homecoming a good one?”
As much as I am learning about things that will directly impact my mothering, I’m also gaining perspective that it’s ok that there is more to me than simply being a mother, even in this season when my kids are little. I am surprised by how much I like my job. I get to learn new things every day. I talk to many people, and almost all of them have the ability to speak in full sentences and comprehend what I say. I get up early and get dressed every morning, and even do my hair and makeup. I really enjoy going to work. I enjoy the intellectual stimulation and sense of accomplishment. I like that I can complete a task from start to finish in one sitting. I enjoy work in a way that doesn't have a counterpart in my mothering experience. But my enjoyment of work does not diminish my enjoyment of motherhood, and it certainly doesn't diminish my value as a mother.
I was offered the opportunity to keep my job on a permanent basis, with an increase in pay. I turned down the offer. As much as I love my job, I know that once my husband returns to work, the place I am most needed in my family will be at home. When my temporary position ends, I will return home to be a full-time mom. I will not for a moment regret my decision to walk away from work and back to my kids. But I’ll be a different person when I go back. Hopefully less self-centered and self-righteous. I will appreciate the time a little more. I will appreciate my husband more. I will judge working moms less. I will appreciate working moms more. I will work a little harder. I will pray a little harder, and play a little harder, and hopefully laugh more. I am thankful for the gift of this season, and I look forward to the next one with great anticipation.