Yes, this is a slight vent, and it involves the lovely SAHM vs Work outside the home mom thingy. If you aren't in the mood to read this, I completely understand, I just need to get this out there.
Lemme start at the beginning - before I had kids I was a nanny. A nanny for a couple who were both lawyers, who worked anywhere from 40-60 hours per week. And I judged them. I am ashamed to say it but I did. Why didn't they re-arrange their schedules to stay home more with their two daughters? They were paying me a significant amount of money to watch their girls, surely they could swap out paying me and cut back hours?
The clarity that I have now is - they worked damn hard to get themselves to where they were, professionally. They also tried like mad to make up for lost time when they were home with their kids. I understand now, as a work-outside-the-home mommy, that you never have total peace of mind. If you're at work, you're thinking about how you should be at home, if you're at home, you're stressing about what needs to be done at work. You are judged constantly as a mother, whether SAHM or not, but when you work you get a whole other set of people thrown into the mix - your co-workers. Is she getting special treatment? Is she really focused when she's here? Oh, lord - her kid is sick again, who knows when she will be back in.
I am very, very lucky with my situation, but I never, ever planned on working again after I had children. I thought for sure I would be a stay at home mom. But after moving across 4 states and a job change for the Mister, we were definitely not well-off. My parents moved to our area when I found out I was pregnant with Mooch, and my Mom volunteered to watch her while I worked (I was working at a soul-sucking restaurant job that I loathed, but it was a paycheck). Because I hadn't been at my job for a year, I had no maternity leave time. I could leave my job, unpaid, for 6 weeks and they would have to guarantee that I could go back to the same position, but that was it. So after having my first child, teaching myself (and her) how to breastfeed, learning how to use a pump, figuring out this whole new mother thing, and attempting to prep and freeze meals, I headed out to work.
And cried. Every day for a month when I left for work, I cried the entire way there. That, I've found, never completely leaves you - I still get a lump in my throat and feel like my heart is being torn out when I have to kiss them goodbye in the morning.
I also made a resolution. Just because *I* had to live with being a work-outside-the-home mommy, that didn't mean my kids were going to suffer for it. I already got to avoid daycare (to say that I send up praise to every entity in the Universe for this, every day, is a gross understatement), and the girls get to spend either days with Daddy or with my parents. But that wasn't enough. They needed to be fed the best food, have a clean house to come home to, have a relaxed and happy mommy and daddy.
So, now that I work a job that is a vast improvement from the last, and I only work 28 hours a week (so I am out by 2:30 every day) I usually wake up by 6 at the latest, and start the day out with a run. This is my head-clearing, soul-searching, spiritual time. I'm only half kidding when I say running is my church. It makes me a more centered person for the rest of the day. When I get back to the house I dash in and grab the clothes out of the washer, and hang them on the line, then water the garden. By this time everyone is usually stirring, and I make breakfast. I still haven't showered, so after I serve everyone I wrap my breakfast to-go and shower while they finish eating. Get everyone dressed, do hair, make sure teeth are brushed.
Then, my least favorite time - a time that, just this morning, Butterbean clung to my leg and said "You no go work, Mama. You stay home with me" :-(
When I get home Butterbean is usually napping, so Mooch and I either play outside or do crafts (her favorite). TV isn't allowed in the afternoons, unless someone is sick. They both love to help me prep dinner, and now that the garden is producing, they love to go out and "pick dinner"
After they go to bed it's time to prep the coffee maker, make lunch for the next day, do laundry, clean, and catch up with the Mister. I also try to set my running stuff out so he doesn't get woken up when I go out.
It may seem like I'm trying to justify my situation, and in a way I am. Because some comments still cut deep. Like at a playgroup when I told a woman I worked and she said, "Oh, when we had our kids we agreed that they were our first priority". Or telling someone I work and having them even say, "Wow, that's too bad." Equally awful are the suggestions we cut back spending so that I can stay home. We pay bills every month with enough leftover to *maybe* take the kids out for pizza. If we had to pay for childcare, I would not be working - but we also would probably be living in an apartment with no backyard, and no beautiful 100 lb dog.
So I work, and then I go home and am overjoyed at getting to have time to play with my kids. I am usually the parent you see trying to teach them how to hopscotch, or with dirty bare feet from chasing them around the yard, or blowing bubbles and giggling like a fool at a toddler trying to catch them. I try to feed my family healthfully, organically, and ethically. I cook almost every night. I can't remember the last time we had takeout, and my husband loves to tell people that "no restaurant cooks as well as my wife does". I am always on the lookout for the latest craft to do with the girls, making playdates for them, trying hard to make every minute of their day filled with fun. They have an amazing father who gets down on the floor and plays with them, signs them up for activities, takes them to museums and zoos. They have grandparents who live on 5 acres of wilderness, where they get to run wild.
Yes, I sometimes run myself into the ground trying to make sure that the 5 hours a day that I am gone are as pain-free to everyone as possible, but it is worth it.
I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world.