by Christina Michael
So what do you do when you’re a lawyer, have 2 little kids, a husband who is always working, and no mom to provide support or company? Well, I guess you pull your hair out of your head, try to stay focused and vent your professional energies by keeping a tidy house, cooking a healthy dinner, and saving pennies by cutting coupons. Oh my, I have just been transported back to the 1950s and am living my mother’s life. Years of education and blood, sweat and tears as a lawyer, and now I’m just trying to wipe my kids’ bottoms and finish the laundry? Was this a good idea to go on “sabbatical”? I wondered and wondered, day after day after day.
I know it’s vital to be there for your children when they are young, and how fortunate I was to have the luxury of staying home with my kids for a time. Though luxury at the expense of what? What had I lost? Let’s recap: I had lost financial freedom and independence from my husband; I had lost any time to myself alone (at least time to have a cup of coffee on the way to work, listen to NPR, and to take a lunch break other than rainbow Goldfish at the park); I had lost the ability to shower and get dressed in the morning to look somewhat presentable. Was this a good move?
I know (and told myself often) that I had gained a lot by leaving my job and staying at home with the kids. I know my children will be thankful some day for the quality time I was able to spend with them when I wasn’t working. But was I truly making a difference in their young lives if I didn’t get down on the floor with them to play games, read books, and teach them their ABCs each day? I should be “working” at something (at least putting my education and training to good use by making my kids’ lives enriched). But I didn’t always feel that the work of a stay-at-home mom was fulfilling to them or to me. Maybe the time I spent with my first child when I was working was more quality time, time that I truly valued because it was so limited. Now that the days seemed endless and the time with the kids was UNlimited (is it truly only 9:30 a.m. and I’m trying to figure out how to keep sane until lunch?), I really questioned the decision to quit my job.
Years have passed. The kids have gotten older. Were they more enriched because I spent so much more time with them? I am not so sure of it. What I do know is that I have been fortunate to have the freedom to choose to stay home with my kids, if only for a little while. Now that I am about to “on ramp,” I am especially cherishing these times with my children. I am already wishing that I didn’t wish these few years away. I am already wishing I didn’t wish the kids would just be in school already. I am already wishing I didn’t wish the days would pass more quickly. Maybe it’s human nature to wish away life, like a young child wishes he were in elementary school already, like a young teenager wishes he were just 16 already, like a high school student wishes he were in college away from home already, like a single woman in her 20s wishes she were with the love of her life already, like a newly married woman wishes she had kids already…... Why do we do this? Why do we wish our lives away?
Now that I am about to re-enter the workforce and lose the ability stay at home with my kids, I am certain of one mistake that I did make: wishing the times away with my very small kids as a stay-at-home mom, times that now I would pay to recapture. In the end, I know that I will not wish I had had another Starbucks coffee and had listened to NPR on the way to work. I will wish I had another day with my little boys, eating rainbow Goldfish at the park, basking in the sun, one boy on each side.