My "mat leave" officially ended this past weekend. That is, if I hadn't tendered my resignation and given up my awesome job to become a SAHM for a few years.
So, in an alternate universe where I would have made the other choice, I would have been in the classroom all weekend, changing bulletin boards, deciphering where the last teacher "left off," designing lesson plans, tidying the classroom, and doing hours of planning/prepping/photocopying. My weekend would have been divided up between getting stuff done and ready for school to start again, and spending the last precious bits of quality time with Baby L. I would have already been transitioning Baby L into daycare, and tried getting her on a more predictable schedule. I would be worrying during the week about my mid-afternoon and mid-morning nursing sessions (which still happen, because that's still how Baby L gets to sleep most of the time), and I would probably be a basket-case, likely erupting in tears every time I thought about missing some milestone in her life.
Thus, I sit here thankful and humbled by the gift that God has given me: the gift of being able to stay home. I do not look on this blessing lightly, because I know full well that many moms do not have an option the way that I do, and I know that they love their babies at least as much as I love mine, and might also be broken up and fearful about missing special moments in their bub's life. I know it must be so hard for some who will be returning to work in the next few days and weeks.
So, back to the red pill/blue pill scenarios. Instead of spending my time in the classroom in the upcoming weeks, I am so excited to be spending this time on the beaches of Waikiki. My time over the past weekend was spent packing and flying. Rather than pour my energies into day plans for other people's kids, I get the privilege of channeling all of my energy into my own baby's life for the foreseeable future. And best of all (for me), I don't have to be tasked with entrusting the care of my child to some stranger in a daycare, but am able to witness all the big and little "milestones" for myself.
Yes, this is the good life. But it's not the great life.
Obviously, certain aspects are great (as I've listed above). But there are costs to be counted too, including monetary ones. My calling is to teach, and my passion is to educate; my schooling and training have all prepared me for being a classroom teacher. To then have all of those years of work and schooling grow stale and be unused seems wasteful, at least a little. And then there's the lack of intellectual stimulation. I love being a mom, but seriously - I could use some adult conversation sometimes, and not just with Hubbs! There is also the strange social expectation that if I'm staying at home, I should keep an orderly and clean abode and be a culinary genius in the kitchen; my free time should be ample and I should be doing crafty things while my baby naps (ha! She never naps... alone). Unfortunately, I am not a master chef and I am not crafty at all; I hate cleaning, and caring for Baby L still takes up most of my day, even now that she's nearly a year old.
Thus, I take my oatmeal with a couple of lumps. There's the good and there's the not-as-good, and this is true whether I would have chosen to return to work or stay at home. I am just glad that I was able to make that choice for myself, and now that I've done so, I can live with it.
To all the mommas who didn't get to choose, however: I so respect you for doing what you have to do for your family. In my eyes (if it's worth anything), that's the mark of a loving momma.
Whatever path life takes you down,
may you always return home to the embrace of little arms and big smiles.