“And what do you do?”
It is the inevitable question never far from being asked when I meet someone new. First comes the requisite questioning on number of kids, ages, and what my husband does. But I know the inquiry in regard to how I spend my days is approaching! I’m a mom who chooses to stay at home.
And in this current world of hustle, why wouldn’t it? My two children are in upper elementary school. My oldest is mere months away from jumping into the swirling waters of middle school. Doesn’t it make sense I get out there and find even a part-time position while I’m not needed as often at home? Maybe. But my time as CEO of my household isn’t up just yet. And I need a minute of your time to shore up my defense as to why I’m still at home.
The Parental Raise
My son and daughter are proud graduates of the “feed, bathe, and wipe yourself” university. Some of these life skills came late or, perhaps, a bit unwillingly. And yet she persisted! My kids pack lunches for school. They knock out their laundry piles every Sunday and only complain a little. (I don’t blame them. Those baseball socks choose violence every time. So gross.)
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My point is this, I am at one of those made-it stages of parenting. I often refer to it as a parental raise. I have actual help around the house. This should free me up to seek something outside the confines of my four walls. The catch, dear reader, is this: With older children comes a livelier schedule.
Gone are the days of toddlerhood when I’d catch myself checking the clock for naps and bedtime. School activities, music lessons, sports, church, and hanging out with friends (“play dates” are dead with the upper elementary boys) now require their own personal assistant. I am that personal assistant.
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And in all seriousness, I love it. Volunteering at the school book fair and picking up teammates for softball practice allows me to be part of my kids’ growing and evolving world. I have boots on the ground. I’m in the mix! Not competing for time with a professional job pays in spades as I have time and headspace to freely be part of my kids’ calendar.
As I previously mentioned, I’m currently wrapping my brain around soon having a son in middle school. Pair that with an eight-going-on-15-year-old little sister and the emotions are often red hot in my neck of the woods. At least two days a week, I can count on someone coming home with big feelings over any number of things. A lower grade than he thought. Her teacher looked at her funny. Someone said he was out in dodgeball when he clearly wasn’t. All cause for wailing and donning of sackcloth.
I poke fun, but with each passing grade come weightier issues. The talks get trickier and the topics more complicated. It’s not new information. Kids today face challenges we never encountered. I’m often at a loss as to how to approach this new frontier. Flying blind over here!
But I’ll tell you one thing: I want my kids to see my smiling face when they hop off the bus. I will bypass the paycheck a little longer if it means my arms get to hold them after a particularly harsh day. Having the freedom to sit at the table with a snack and a listening ear is my gift to them. These years of awkward and hard won’t last. In the meantime, I will be here.
One of the most beautiful and unifying facets of the mom community is the ability to choose how we cultivate our individual motherhood experience. Maybe you want time away from the house to pursue your own career, your own dreams. Maybe I don’t want to be expected to wear pants every day. You know the adage. If we were all the same, things would be very dull.
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The magnitude of what we’re each doing in raising the next generation is what we celebrate and encourage. The differences keep things spicy! Which leads me to my final reason why I stay at home.
A school day leaves my house in a state of calm I haven’t known since becoming a mother. The silence! You wouldn’t believe the silence. I am woman enough to admit the selfish side of me really loves this stage of life. Entire hours of the day where I think my own thoughts and do as I please.
Granted, most of those hours are spent maintaining a base level of “clean enough” at home and organizing and mapping out our busy lives. (Remember that personal assistant?) But to be able to do those tasks uninterrupted? While listening to a true crime podcast? Shut the front door. This is luxury at its finest folks.
If these last couple of years have taught us anything, we can be sure nothing is a sure thing. My choice and ability to rock the stay-at-home gig could change tomorrow. Life happens. But until then, I’ll confidently and gratefully respond to the question “What do you do?” with this: