As I lay in bed this morning, my thoughts went something like: “Yay! Company holiday. I get to stay home today! I’m going to make them a hot breakfast, see them off to school, do laundry… I’ll get a workout in during daylight hours and maybe even read a book! …There are women who get to do this every day… I wonder what it would have been like if I’d stayed home instead of working… *pang*… I wonder if I should have stayed home… other people seem to make it work… This family and that family manage it and they’re happy. …How much have I missed because I worked? Could our lives have been better? …*pain pain pain*”
Why, WHY am I still doing this? My children are nearly grown and they are FABULOUS. We have a wonderful relationship, their grades are tops, and they are all healthy and happy. WHY must I continue to revisit this impossible what-if?
I suppose it’s a normal human thing, to wonder about the path you didn’t take. And I know that it is normal to crave more time with your kids as a working mom. And I also know with my whole heart that craving more time with your kids is usually a good thing. I love to be with them, I want to be with them, and they know it.
The grass would not have been greener, just because I stayed home. Just yesterday, a dear friend, who does stay home full time, was telling me about how delighted she was to go shopping for two hours without her kids. So apparently it’s not automatic all-time bliss for SAHMs either.
And really, it wasn’t an option for us. I worked because I had to work. After we got pregnant with our third, my husband and I revisited our childcare plan and we determined that it would make sense financially for him to stay home. I made five times what he did at that time in our lives; having him stay home made sense.
For better or worse, we get one life. Each of us has our blessings and our burdens. We’ve all had our moments of glory and our moments of shame. The “I rock!” and the “I can’t believe I did that”.
But the thing is, the glorious, wonderful thing is, there is no one recipe for a perfect life. There are many ways to be a good mom.
If I have lived my one, imperfect life, on balance, as well I as could have, if, on balance, I’ve done more good than wrong, if the results of my life, messy as it has been, are three amazing, delightful children and a husband that till loves me, then however I got here, I must’ve done something right.
God bless the broken road.
In those moments when you wonder, when you wish that you could stay home, in those painful moments, please remember, there is more than one way to live a good life. There is more than one way to build a happy family.
Build yours, Mamma. With whatever tools are given you: your money, talent, energy; your own personal history, your husband, parents, friends; your children, each so different from the other; build your one beautiful life.
And don’t worry about what could have been, instead, delight in what is.