This has been a year full of change. After four years of being a stay at home mom, we decided that it was time for me to go back to work. Lily, my youngest was four and she is a very social little girl. She was ready for school and I was ready for work.
Some moms seem to thrive in their stay-at-home status. I was not one of those moms. Financially, it made sense for me to stay at home, and honestly, I felt compelled to stay at home, but it was a constant struggle for me. I adore my children. I love savoring the moments with them, filling up my jar of precious memories. I love the changes but mourn the amazing moments that growth leaves behind. I love spending time with my children above all else, but, I did not like me as I struggled to conform to this role I seemed to be so ill-suited for.
For years I have struggled with a sense of guilt. Being a loving, consistent mother is the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life. Shouldn’t that be “enough” for me? I would look at some of my friends who seemed so content or even blissful in that role, and I wondered why I was so unhappy. A good mother would be content in that role, right?
I was full of trepidation when I accepted the contract to go back to teaching. Would my children suffer? Would I be able to balance everything? Was I doing the right thing?
It didn’t take me long to realize that the decision we had made was the right one for us. I am such a better person with the challenge and mental stimulation that teaching gives me! I am happier, and, I believe that I am also a better mother.
That is not to say that this year has been an easy one. For seven months we made the grueling commute from home in south Dallas, to our jobs in north Dallas. (Anyone who has ever driven in Dallas during rush hour knows how awful that was!) Now imagine that same commute cooped up with three bored children . . . in the car with you . . . for the entire commute! Yeah! That has become my vision of what hell must be like! My littlest, literally, seemed unable to stop talking. Imagine the running commentary of a four year old at 6:30 in the morning before you’ve had your first cup of coffee . . .
In fact, it was so bad, that we decided to move to North Dallas in the middle of the school year! Crazy I know, but such a good decision! My son is like a whole new kid (I won’t even get into the troubles we had with him this year! :S) since we moved. It’s amazing what a difference having time to play after school can make!
So, what’s the point of all of this? I guess what I want to say is that no one can know what is right for you and your family. I stayed at home because I needed to, and I don’t regret the time I spent at home with the kids. I just wish I had spent less of it feeling guilty for not being who I thought I was supposed to be!
Being a parent requires such balance. It is easy to lose ourselves in caring for our children. It is also easy to be a crappy parent because we are too focused on what we need and not focused on what is best for our children. Being a good parent means putting our children in front of ourselves. But it also means, being able to tell the kids to go watch a show or play in their rooms for a bit so that you can keep a sense of your own identity in the midst of this crazy thing we call parenting.
Yes, you could take the time to work on your child’s reading or to play another game with them, but sometimes, the best thing we can do for our children is to make sure that we don’t lose ourselves, because, after all, that is what makes us the best parent of all!