Change is in the air. No, forget the subtly, it’s been slapping me in the face this past month or two. Because at the same time that I’m appreciating the color on the trees, the feel of an autumn evening, and the smell of pumpkin pies – I’m also trying to adjust to the changes that come with having a working schedule. Not that it’s a bad thing – but it can feel terribly inconvenient at times and we haven’t found a rhythm as a family yet.
This has been one of the harder decisions to make as a family – mom at home, or mom at work? It’s definitely a trade-off and each of the kids has given us their bar-none opinion about it. I also believe that the Christian culture can also (sometimes) be harder on women about working outside the home and to be really transparent, that’s something I’ve had to work through on a personal level.
Some of the things I realize I’ve taken for granted during my stay-at-home mom years:
- getting laundry done on a semi-consistent basis
- being able to just “wing it” for dinner because I had all day to figure it out or cook it if I wanted to
- being able to hang around for the repair/cable/UPS person or simply have lunch with a friend
- Being able to schedule after-school activities and still be home by 5 or 6PM
- Having time to spend a day cleaning the house (instead of doing the “catch-as-can” method)
- Being available for the kids when they forget things for school
- Staying up late because I had #4 to count on
It really hit me between the eyes as birthday season came up and it was a scramble to get everything together (see No More Cupcakes post). Cincykid also came into town with a friend to stay for a few nights and I felt guilty because I couldn’t spend the days prior cleaning like a mad-woman and then planning special evenings – (never mind the fact that they were here for a professional conference and didn’t really have much time for visiting anyway and what on earth was I thinking?!? – Martha Stewart?). And most of all, there are days when little CJ cuddles up to me in the morning and says “Can I just stay home with you today?” It’s a guilt-ridden moment even though I realize it shouldn’t be.
And I have to wonder… why, exactly, do we (or maybe just I) idealize the SAHM?
I believe there’s a wonderful Christ-like quality in being available to your family, but as I’ve taken the time (driving to work) to think about it – I wonder if we sometimes mistake availability with chaufferism. (Yes, I just made up that word.) And I feel a little confused about myself – because I love the idea of “being there”. To drop off lunches, deliver forgotten homework, to drive to practices and games. It’s a way of showing that I’m interested and that I care.
But if those are the only qualities that measure my interest and care, what about the parents that work two jobs? Or the parents that are divorced? Or families who have one parent who works out of town? Or the families that simply need the financial stability of two incomes?
Are we being too narrow in our parental definitions of love and interest? And most of all, do we judge ourselves and others by that definition?
Just to be clear, I’m not giving a pass on ever doing any of those things when possible. I’m just trying to unclothe the culture from my faith as of late, and this is one of those areas that has made me pause to think.