It’s days like today when I am grateful to be a stay-at-home mom. It wasn’t an easy day or a particularly challenging day, it wasn’t monumentally memorable or undeniably notable in any way. It was a relatively standard day in my harried, scheduled, intentional life as a stay-at-home mom of three kids 5 and under. But I was there, and for that I am grateful.
Sure, being a stay-at-home parent is an ongoing gig with few breaks, no vacation or sick days, no pay, and little appreciation (heck, some even resent if not balk at the endeavor), but it is immensely rewarding. For me.
Others may find the undertaking simply torturous or overwhelmingly monotonous. It is truly all in how you approach the responsibility and how you are wired.
I treat my stay-at-home parenting as a job. Truly. Each day I am focused on maintaining a schedule and –hopefully — creating a socially enriching and physically healthy routine for my kids. I have a plan every day just as I did when I was a cubicle-dweller. Just now my colleagues wipe their noses on my clothes and all bathroom duties are communal.
Some people are destined to be moguls, intellectuals, healers, entrepreneurs, managers, artists, or organizers. Heck, some people have no desire to procreate at all. To them I say, “Bravo!” Knowing yourself and your goals, being true to yourself despite outside pressures — real and imagined — takes fortitude. Do you!
Then, there are the men and women like me whose main life goal is to nurture our own offspring. We don’t aspire to be rich in wealth or fame, just in love.
Unfortunately, sometimes life unfolds in such a way that this doesn’t or cannot occur. Instead of walking their dreamed journey, individuals are forcibly detoured to another life path without the comfort of celestial explanation.
Other times, the nurturing path is open. The life aspirations of 24/7 care duties ensue. It’s humbling and fulfilling, exhausting and invigorating, disgusting and beautiful all at once. Each day presents millions of individual moments that range greatly from sweet to stressful, comical to thought-provoking. Some days you feel as if you have hardly used your brain beyond basic feed-clean-protect duties. Then there are days you flop onto your bed in complete exhaustion not knowing how you survived — or how you’ll manage the strength to visit the bathroom to empty your hours-full bladder — but you’re certain that you’ll do it all again tomorrow. Because you’re a parent and that’s what you do.
Today though. Today, mingled among the mundane and trying moments, were brilliant flickers of beauty that reminded me why I am so grateful to be home with my children.
This morning I had the ability to spend a morning taking my littlest to a playground where he could run about with his pint-sized friend. I could take him to a children’s concert and witness his amusement. I could take my boys for a long walk in the afternoon sun and make a last-minute detour to a playground before school pick-up duties called. I could collect my kindergartener from school and hear her gush about her day. I could be here for the good, the bad, the goofy, and the downright obnoxious.
I once worked. I once wore heels and dangling earrings. I once had coffee with fellow adults and spoke in uninterrupted sentences. That’s a past me. A me that was unhappy and unfulfilled because I was playing a roll that didn’t suit me. Just as a natural career man or woman would feel if he or she was forced to be a stay-at-home parent.
There is no single path. There is no “right” or “wrong” journey. It is simply up to us to follow the road laid out before us, to seek our own happiness in accordance with our circumstances and selves.
This is my path. And I am grateful to be present.