I Am Where I Want To Be
Contrary to how my first post may have made it sound (link at bottom of page), I am where I want to be. For the first time in ten years of motherhood, I have fully embraced that this is truly and wholly what I want to be doing with my time.
I currently spend the majority of my life with these two little ladies:
I thought about not including photos of my children for privacy reasons, but realized these photos help tell the story better than pages and pages of my words.
When I am not exclusively with the two youngest, we add in my oldest two, pictured here on Christmas morning 2021:
Some people think I am crazy for having four. I like to deflect the alarm in their voices and redirect it to my mother (thanks mom!) who chose to have nine children. Yes, I also cannot imagine how I would parent nine, which I have also told her.
I am where I want to be.
I am currently choosing to be a full time mother of four, staying home with my little ones while the oldest two attend the local elementary school. I am forever grateful to my husband for this joy.
I didn't know how much I cared about this dream until tears were flowing down my face in a therapy session at the age of twenty-three, trying to save my deteriorating marriage. Incidentally, this comment had absolutely nothing to do with any of the issues we were working through at the time, but it has stayed with me still, a decade later. "My wife will never just be sitting at home watching kids while I'm out supporting us!" The result was instantaneous and uncontrollable, I started sobbing, even surprised by it myself. Unprepared for the exposition, I learned in that moment of yet another dream stolen from myself in how I had ordered my life events up to that moment.
Ten years later, I am home with our four children, by mutual decision. If anything, my husband now holds the opposite position; he prefers I stay home. His life is less stressful, his career easier to navigate and he feels calmer knowing his children are with their mother. He has supported me in my endless attempts to figure out a different set-up, one allowing me to contribute financially to the family and make use of the ambition and drive discussed in my previous article. But the weight sliding off his shoulders is palpable when I settle into this full time mother role, allowing him the freedom that it does (e.g. Work an extra shift? Sure! Kids are home from school? No problem. The baby has an appointment? Okay!) Life is simpler to navigate with a parent at home.
With them as my priority, no person or entity believes they have the right to dictate when/if I can spend time with my own children. If they are sick, I am neither adding responsibilities to co-workers by leaving to tend to them, nor staying at my job and struggling to care even the slightest about anything work-related while knowing my children are feeling unwell. Being honest, when my child is sick, that work project means literally nothing to me, even the one I was thrilled about the afternoon before.
I am free! My spouse and my children are my top priority, and I am proud to say it. (More on that in a future post.) My spouse and my children are my top priority; all the stress from simultaneously juggling career and family is gone. My spouse and my children are my top priority and I have the profound blessing to live that truth in how I spend my time every day. My spouse and my children are my top priority, and that does not remove the driven, creative, passionate professional within me. My spouse and my children are my top priority and I get to LIVE THAT OUT daily. I do not take this position for granted. Nor do I judge you, my dear other mothers reading this, if choosing to act this out in a different way. I DO NOT JUDGE YOU. Do not take my absolute relish of this current role I fill to mean I denigrate your method of combining motherhood and career. Whatever way you choose for you and your family, I honor and respect. The decision is challenging.
Before I leave you, let me show you that I get it. I understand. Darling mother, I am ready with a hug if you need it.
I have tried the combination of motherhood and career in this many ways:
-back to work as a server when my oldest was three weeks old, working only weekends, with her all week
-full time college student, part time server, fitting in motherhood in between, lots of family and friends help with childcare
-full time college student, full time intern, part time server supporting a family of three, being a mother somewhere between chemistry and physics calculations, daycare for my daughter
-part time server, post graduation, deciding where to start my "career" spending every moment not working with my daughter and husband
-personal trainer with my daughter in daycare full time
-personal trainer, hostess, banquet server, and daycare worker with no time or ability to be present as mother
-personal trainer and back waiter, parenting in between the juggle and using drop in daycare when my husband's shifts overlapped
-full time office job with a combination of grandmas, aunts and alternate schedules to care for our daughter
-full time office & fitness job when our second was seven weeks old and we continued the combination family and alternating work schedules for care
-full time career fitness job with our two children in full time daycare and my husband attending college while working part time
-full time mother with two children when my husband started his career post-graduation
-part time night job delivering newspapers to add more income while not conflicting with childcare needs due to my husband's work schedule
-part time bank teller during the day while my husband worked at night, alternating schedules so the children were with us
-continued part time bank teller once my third child was six weeks old
-full time mother when my husband's schedule changed and my continued work would have meant he could sleep about 3 hours per night
-full time mother and part time volunteer for a start up company I heard of and wanted to invest in through money or time
-full time employee working from home while our oldest went to school and our next two attended drop in daycare four days a week in the mornings, me picking them up during my lunch break and finishing up work while they roamed our home
-full time mother after the birth of our fourth child and we decided the stress of the juggle was not creating the home life we wanted
-full time mother and part time volunteer turned employee upon starting to make an income from the start up company I joined in with
-full time mother pursuing projects around the needs of my family
I have tried it all. I have tried full time, part time, no time and everything in between. The decision is hard.
I see you momma. Whatever your decision is, I see you, I believe in you, I support you.
Please know that you are honored, loved, respected and you are not alone.
Here are my cuties!
Here is my husband with the oldest three, Christmas tree hunting several weeks ago:
And seriously...I can't stop taking these ones:
P.S. For a completely different perspective, please see my first post: https://www.charlestonfamilytravel.com/post/women-are-better-caregivers