Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stay at Home Moms

I am feeling sentimental and overly thoughtful these last few days.  There's no particular reason for it.  It's just that sometimes, time catches up with me, I become acutely aware of it's constant passage, and I begin to think too much about it.

I am thinking, specifically, about my girls.  They are nine- and seven-years-old now, time that has passed in the blink of an eye.  I truly don't know where it went.  One day, I was bringing my oldest home from the hospital, all five pounds, 14 ounces of her, and the next, she's a sassy, smart, pretty 4th grader practicing her katas in a white tae kwan do uniform every Tuesday and Friday night. 

I often tell new mothers to enjoy their little ones, for it goes so fast.  I think it falls on somewhat deaf ears - they think they have all the time in the world, that the days drag in a slow, neverending stream of feedings and diaper changes.  But.  It goes so fast.

It's especially ironic that, as my girls get older, they occasionally look back on their baby years and marvel at the fact that they crawled around the floor so long ago.  For indeed, to them, it was a lifetime ago, something they don't remember.  Only nine and seven years, yet so much time has passed for them, filled with school and friends and games and play.  Time truly is relative.

So with all that being said, I must weigh in on the mommy wars debate a little, not to stir the pot, for I have no judgment one way or another for how women choose to live their lives, or for the circumstances that guide their choices.  No, not to stir the pot, but as testimony to my own particular situation in my own little portion of the universe.

When our oldest was born, I was a working mom.  I worked for a financial company in the south and boy I hated  working there.  It was a man's company all the way, it was stressful, and I remain convinced to this day that my daughter's tiny birthweight was entirely attributed to that stress, and financial stress brought on in part by our own financial issues and in part by uncertainty imparted by my employer in regard to maternity leave coverage.

So she was born, and I was off for three months.  I came back to work for five, cried nearly every day for those first weeks, and spent every lunch hour down the street at the daycare which was doing my job raising my daughter.

Needless to say, I quit.  I was not cut out for the working mother thing.  I simply couldn't juggle the household chores, the schedule fluctuations of an eight-month-old, the husband, successfully.  And two weeks after I quit, I learned I was pregnant again, so fate was definitely at work.

Financially, it was the most enormous struggle.  We had no money, I started a home-based business, we borrowed money from my parents to get our heads above water.  We soon had two children under the age of two, and I was stressed.  For five years, we struggled financially - the business failed, I put it to rest, we cleaned up our financial house once again... we struggled!

Yet, I will never be so grateful for the time, because looking back on it now, when finances are considerably improved, I know it is time with my girls that I was so fortunate to have and which I would never be able to get back.  I needed that time with them.  I needed, nine years down the road, to know that I gave them that time even though I see myself as the most imperfect mother who made so many mistakes.  Though I could have worked, pushed through and made it work so that finances weren't such an issue, I realize that, for me, doing so would have brought a different set of frustrations altogether.  No answer is perfect, but staying home was the particular answer for me.

I am glad I gave them our own vision of childhood - the ability to sleep in when they were tired, curl up with me when they were sick, play in the sprinkler on a nice day outside, go to the park, take a walk, give me a hug, whenever they, or I, wanted to.  I am grateful to my husband for, although we struggled, he ultimately supported what we were doing.  I'm grateful for the time, the fleeting, fleeting time, even now as I feel I am always grasping, trying to hold on to them, touching only their coattails as they continue to move forward, grow up, grow away.  Thank God for the time.