I'm a stay at home mother. I've been questioned on that label because I also do freelance design work and teach, but since all of that is squeezed into nap time and evenings, mama is my preferred job title. Of course, like all mother's, I am a complex person with many passions and interests that have nothing to do with my child, but right now the vast majority of my time is spent planning for, playing with, researching about, cooking for, laughing with, and cleaning up after my little boy. It's my job, and I'm pretty proud of the work I'm doing.
My choice to stay home is not a common or all that popular one with many of my friends and even some family. Most people are respectful regardless of whether they approve, but that discussion of when I'll be returning seems to 'casually' bubble up too often and I field a lot of condescending comments and questions.
Last year we went to a wedding and spent the night catching up with old friends. One woman has a daughter about a year older than Little Smith and she was talking about her work and various business trips. She asked how my transition back to the office had been and when I mentioned that I was still home she tilted her head and said, 'awww, give me a hug... I know it's tough, and for those first few months I thought that maybe I could just stay with my baby forever, but we're intelligent women with real careers and that just doesn't work for us, we'd go nuts!'.
Just last week I was talking with a close family friend, her son is grown but she pretty much reiterated the whole, I'd have gone crazy if I'd stayed home with him bit and then ended with laughing about the qualifications some people require in a nanny since 'watching a kid isn't exactly rocket science'. She didn't intend it as an insult to me and I understood what she meant, it isn't always the most qualified person that is the best at nurturing a child... and it isn't rocket science... but it is challenging.
It's far more than just the labor, I have had jobs that didn't work my brain, where I was doing repeated tasks all day and my mind went to mush. I don't feel that in my current role at all, I actually feel just as mentally taxed and on point as it did in my former job. I know that isn't the case for everyone, and I completely respect all the women who work each day at an office and parent as well. Our choices as mother's are so personal and delicate, it frustrates me that these dialogues so often feel insulting, even when we try to show mutual respect.
Staying at home just fits for me. Yes, there are moments when I do think I'll go nuts, days when I think I'm messing up everything or I'm too tired to function and wish someone else could do this gig for a day or two. But even in those toughest of times, there is genuine joy. I can say that I end more days with a feeling of satisfaction and real accomplishment than in any other phase of my life. Nuts or not, that's a pretty sweet job.
*all images are from our june trip to chicago