I thought that I wanted to work outside of the home. I thought that I could easily balance the challenge of successfully running a household as well as a career. I thought that having summers off along with weekends and all the holidays because I was a teacher was going to be ideal. I thought this would be the perfect “out” so that I would not be overwhelmed by motherhood. I thought wrong. It did not take long for me to discover that all the perks of my job could not compensate for me not being at home with my small children.
Regardless of what I thought about this topic, this is what I know. I know what it is like to get up early every morning running on empty from midnight feedings and quickly cover up the bags under my eyes in an unsuccessful attempt to look like a professional. I know what it is like to frantically race around getting lunches and bags ready for each person to go in a different direction - regardless of all the preparation done the night before - taking as many shortcuts as possible so that I might scavenge just five minutes to sit and hold my baby before I had to say goodbye for the day. I know what it is like to try and hold back tears so my husband would not be reminded of my daily sadness of the situation that haunted us both as I would kiss my infant goodbye, only to release those tears on the way to work.
I know what it is like to spend my lunch and prep periods resentfully pumping milk so my baby could get the best type of nutrition available for him. Resentful - not because I was overwhelmed with all of the grading I had to do and it was a time consuming process, or because I had to sit all by myself in fear that someone would accidentally come through the locked door or that I had to meticulously clean all of the components when I was done quickly before the bell. I would happily do all of those things again for the welfare of my baby. No, I was resentful because every bottle I pumped was a cruel reminder that someone else would cuddle and feed my baby that milk, not me. And as I pumped, there was no getting away from those thoughts that left me torn between gratefulness that I could provide this for my infant, and depression because once again I was facing another harsh reality of a full-time working mom.
I know what it is like to return anxiously home to my baby, quickly take care of the necessary chores - skipping corners when I could - and frantically prepare for the next day all so I could watch the clock tick much too fast into the evening. Before I would know it, time would have slipped by and it would be time to put my infant to sleep for the night. I remember holding him late into the hours as he slept in my arms just so I could squeeze out every last moment with him. It brings tears to my eyes even now as I relive those painful moments of such joy because I finally had a child, but simultaneous sadness because I could not be with him. I know what it is like to discover the sharp realism that my caregivers - as gracious and as beautifully as they treated my baby- spent more time with my child in a day than I did. I know what it is like.And because I know what it is like, I have a tender place in my heart for those moms who I see bravely leave their children everyday so they can either help or solely support their families. I understand the burden, the frustration, the sadness, the guilt they feel and I count my blessings everyday that I no longer have to feel that for myself. So while I am sometimes overwhelmed by the many areas where sacrifice is pertinent in order for me to be a SAHM, the truth is that being at home with my children is what I know I want. And every time I find myself focusing on those sacrifices instead of the beautiful (literally and figuratively) blessings I have been given, I have to remind myself that I know what it is like to be a working mom. It only takes a moment of reliving the bittersweet memories of that part of my life for me to redirect my attention to the joy I have, and not focus on the trials because no matter what I thought, I now know - for certainty - what I want.