Before my son came into my life, I was a Wellness Coach. I went to college for four years and then to graduate school for nutrition. I was underpaid and a tad overworked, but I was confident and respected in my position. I helped people for a living. I learned something new every single day in my career, as it was an ever changing, fast-paced market and I was dealing with humans. Each person I met was a different challenge, and a different reward. Some people paid me well, and others paid on a sliding scale. I once even got a painted seashell as payment, but most of the time I was thrilled to be getting anything at all.
Once my son was born, I made the decision to stay home with him. Half because I couldn’t imagine leaving his side for one second, and half because I had absolutely no clue how to do anything else anymore. Like many first time moms, I was in a state of shock entering the first few months of motherhood. During my trials with breastfeeding and recovery from surgery, I was able to determine that for at least a few years, my new job was to be a mommy. And one that I devoted myself to completely. I read books on parenting, we went to the museum each week, and I fostered spirit in my son. Making mommy-hood my job, at least for the time being, was the best decision I had ever made.
I recently read an article that said being a mom isn’t a job and that we shouldn’t complain about the work that motherhood involves because “it’s a privilege to stay at home with your children.” Well, for me, it was not that simple. Leaving my job was actually the only way we could work out this parenting gig at all. It was indeed more expensive for me to stay home with my son, so it came with many sacrifices, and now I get paid with love and Lego money and pine cones. But I do miss my salary. And if I drew an expense report on staying at home, we’d be taking a loss for sure. I’m guessing that’s why some people assume those who choose to stay at home are privileged. But while I know there are plenty of people who have enough money that the choice to leave their job is simple, that was not us. We live in a very modest home, in a modest suburb, and left where we were living in Austin, TX to be able to afford our decision.
I’m not complaining, because these were my choices. I made sacrifices for this- the hardest work I’ve ever done; the most demanding job I’ve ever known.
Parenting is a job, regardless of your other professions. All parents work either in the home, outside of the home, or both. Spending time with my child is a privilege, but being a SAHM is a career choice. And yes, the fact that I get so much time with my son is beyond amazing. But it can also be beyond annoying, and beyond monotonous, and beyond insane at times. I read too that these moms who find parenting nothing but a privilege think that we shouldn’t complain about needing a break. I’m no professional parent, but I will tell you this: all human beings require breaks from other human beings. Our children need breaks from being parented. We need breaks from talking in simple sentences and having toddler food for lunch. Parenting is a hard job regardless of how you divide your time. So like people do at most jobs, I take breaks. I even took a short vacation once.
This is the work I do right now. I stay up to date on the latest and greatest in parenting, I talk with other parents to find out how to refine my “job skills”, and I learned to swaddle a baby like a boss when my son was born, dang it. I’m good at this! I may be paid in karma chips and pine cones, but I’m standing strong that this is my job. And it’s not completely dissimilar to my old profession. I teach my son ethics, and manners, and kindness, and potty skills, and so much more. This is work. And I’m working hard.