the one about the taboo

One year ago on Mother's Day weekend, I made the "public" announcement that I would be leaving my full-time teaching job to stay home with my girls. We are just a few days away from that "anniversary," and I was laying awake in bed last night thinking this thought:

Some days, going to work was easier than what I did today. 

I took a moment to let that sink in, and then immediately I felt guilt, shame, and embarrassment. Shame on me for thinking that 1) teaching was easy and 2) I preferred it to caring for my own children. 

I then started thinking about this taboo I was experiencing-- the one where stay-at-home moms/work-inside-the-home moms/full-time moms (whatever title helps the public sleep at night), would prefer to just go back to work and leave the chaos and madness of home life behind. For a day. For a month. For a year. For forever.

I'm not supposed to feel this way. I am supposed to be consumed by the wonder of my children 24 hours a day. I am supposed to smile through the fatigue, laugh through the mess, stay calm through the tantrums, and accept that "happy homes" are dirty and disorganized and loud. I am supposed to wear my badge proudly and say things like, "I am just so blessed to have the opportunity to stay home with my children," because I know that so many women would die for this possibility. 

And some days, I am OK with all of the above. I really am. I step over the toys on my living room rug and ignore the laundry piles for another day and I manage to find joy among the chaos. 

But other days, I wonder if my family was better off when I was working full time. If my children were happier when they were at day care, getting constant interaction and stimulation and doing activity upon activity. Most of the time, my four year old's boredom is palpable, and I fall short in entertaining, inspiring, and motivating her. 

Was my decision to stay home with my children a selfish one? Did I do it to cure my own guilt, or are my children really better off in my care?

The devil is in the doubting.

When my husband comes home after a long day of work, my girls practically run each other over to be the first ones to him. He will sit on the floor with his legs spread apart and arms outstretched while they take turns running into him and knocking him backward. It's their thing, I know. 

But there was a time when my girls toddled and tripped over their own two feet to be the first to get to me at the end of the day. Seeing me at the door to pick them up from day care created huge smiles on all of our faces. The sweetest reward after a challenging day.

Many of my friends are pregnant for the first time and going through the agony of choosing a day care for their babies. I remember those days well. 

It's so tough to know if you're making the right decision.

And even when you stay home with your children, it's so tough to know if you're making the right decision.


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