When I resigned from my job in September to stay home with my son I joined a growing group of educated, employed, engaging women who are getting by with a little less for a little more. A little more time with our children while they are still in their formative years.
Before joining the mommy ranks, I said I would continue working full-time. After all, I was committed to journalism when I was 11, working in a newsroom at 16, full time when I was 20. Journalism was my first love and I couldn’t imagine leaving it.
Then my mancub came into my life, and with him, a much stronger love than I ever could have imagined. The 40+ minute commute, combined with 7 1/2 hour work days that often stretched to more meant I was away from my kiddo for up to 12 hours a day.
I was with him at night, while he was asleep, then I would ship him off to another member of the family to raise him that day. Let me tell you about this wonderful village that helped us raise our child.
When Daddy, a music teacher, and Mommy were at work, our babe spent time with grandmothers and grandfathers, great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, roommates, friends, neighbors, basically anyone living between Huntington and Charleston that we could find so we wouldn’t need a day care or full-time sitter.
(Nothing against those who choose to put their kid in day care, but have you seen the salary for teachers and journalists?)
Baby went to the uncles’ (one actual uncle and two well-loved roomates) Monday, stayed with Granny the next two days, and back to an aunt Thursday. The next week had a completely different rotation with a new group of people.
The support of these people helped me work for a full, hectic year, all the while thinking that I was doing the best possible thing for my family. Shortly after my baby’s first birthday, I decided I had had enough. My thought was that I, as a mother, was responsible for my child. At the time I couldn’t accurately answer the pediatrician’s questions at his checkups. I wasn’t even sure what he was eating for lunch or if he was napping. I needed to be there for him.
In order to make that happen, we’ve made some cuts. Cloth diapers over disposable diapers; date nights to Marshall’s or Target; peanut butter over a medium well ribeye.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have luxuries in life. My day wouldn’t be complete without a Starbucks iced black tea, sweet of course. Eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s on the couch with my honey and NCIS on the flat screen is way better than droppin’ a Hamilton to have someone kick the back of my theater seat 20 times in two hours. Freelancing, mixed in with patience and understanding, makes all of that possible.
Being a work-at-home mom is the most demanding job of my life. There are no breaks, no easy lunchtimes. There are days I want nothing more than to be back to the newsroom just to get a break and a conversation that doesn’t involve singing “Skidamarink a dinky dink.” Then I bit into my peanut butter foldover, look into my boy’s bright eyes and realize that nothing could be more rewarding.
Welcome to my Mommyhood.