The construction site at the front of our neighborhood sparks a lot of questions from my carful of boys each day. There is lots of talk about cranes, dump trucks, and cement mixers. But on this particular day, the comments from the backseat hit me hard. They stung.
They wanted to know what the men were building. As a mom of toddlers, I am no stranger to the fact that a simple answer will never do. So it’s no surprise that my one word answer “daycare” created additional questions in their mind. But this next question sparked a whole conversation that hit this mama hard. “What’s a daycare?” It never really occurred to me that my boys had never seen the inside walls of a daycare. I wasn’t sure if I was proud or sad of that fact.
You see, I was a daycare kid. Both of my parents worked. For as long as I can remember, a daycare was my second home. Even though I’m now a stay at home mom, it never really occurred to me that my kids didn’t even know what a daycare was. Part of me smiled because I feel blessed to be home with my babies. A wish not everyone that wants it is granted. But was I doing them a disservice by not teaching them about other situations? Was I not sharing with them that not all family dynamics look like ours? I try, on a regular basis, to share with them other lifestyles different from our own. Did I fail them on this one?
Once I explained to my boys that a daycare was a place that kids go when their mommies and daddies both went to work. The next comments stung me like a bee.
“But you don’t have a job. You don’t work mama.”
Ouch! Although that’s the facts. I don’t “work” in the typical 8-5 workplace. I do not earn a steady paycheck, and my daily tasks do not earn me any perks or health benefits. I DO feel like I indeed have a job. Probably the hardest job I’ve ever possessed.
So moms. You work. You have a job. Whether motherhood is your “only” job or it is the one in addition to your one outside the home. You DO indeed work. You do indeed have a job. You are worthy. You are needed. All of these jobs are important.
I now know that I need to do better at teaching my boys that mommying is hard work. (Yes I just made up a verb because that’s how strongly I feel about the job title “MOM.”) I don’t want them to take the mom job for granted when their future wives embark on the hardest job of their lives. But not just that, but for now. So they respect and appreciate me. So they respect and appreciate their friends’ moms that work outside the home, and then come home to work some more. It’s hard. No matter where the paycheck comes from.
The paycheck doesn’t define your worth. And sometimes, the hardest part of the “job” is unpaid.
For the past 6 years that I’ve been a stay at home mom, I’ve struggled in the doctor waiting room when it comes time to answer the line on the questionnaire: “job title.” I don’t feel that “unemployed” fits my life, but I’m definitely not bringing in the big bucks. And “homemaker” and “I stay at home” just doesn’t seem to cut it. There should be an “all of the above” box to check. Something that sums up my world doesn’t fit on one little line on this sheet of paper.
But who am I really trying to prove anything to or to impress? Really, I just want to raise my babies to the best of my ability, and part of that is being confident in the task at hand. Right now. This stage. It’s hard and messy, but it IS a job and as much as I sometimes feel I’m failing. I am doing my very best with my babies. Every. Single. Day.
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