I Quit The Good Life. Now I'm "Justa" Mom.
I used to be successful, accomplished, overpaid. I did what I thought were important things, with important people. I had a cush job in software, with ridiculous benefits. I was pretty sure I was winning at life.
I quit that job.
Because it wasn't enough, somehow.
And I wound up in this current, prestigious role as Director of Human Services + Child Development, as a newly certified S.A.H.M.
And in case you're not familiar with those last, highly honorable credentials, S.A.H.M. stands for: Stay-At-Home-Mom.
I'd heard the pay sucked, but wow, there were a lot of other un-benefits I didn't see coming. Like how the job did not come with the expected hiring bonus of patience—which is not only the most basic tool required of the job, but is particularly needed by Type-A me. Also, it's not just that the job is unpaid, there's no PTO. Like, ever. Not even unpaid sick days.
I didn't know what I was doing when I accepted this role; I clearly still don't.
Which is probably a good thing. Or I wouldn't be doing it.
I'm a slow learner, so I've only just come to begin to understand that being a SAHM is not just grossly undercompensated, it's possibly the most humbling job on earth.
No other career grants you the complex, coveted privilege of being the unpaid janitor, nurse, laundress, maid, personal shopper, taxi, stylist, chef and entertainer, all at once.
No other career breaks you off the top of your life into such an embarrassingly state of mental, emotional and physical floppiness. No other career lets you yell-sob, "I can't do this anymore" in front of others, without rushing you to free counseling and cookies.
And despite all that, people still stay home with their children. People—apparently this includes me—actually become attached to small, singing, red-haired Sith lords who bite their legs while holding them captive.
I'd blame it all on hormones, but it sounds more like Stockholm Syndrome.
It's like God didn't even LOOK at my resume before hiring me.
There are basic skills required of the SAHM role that I didn't—don't—have.
Like patience—as in waiting, longer, and again and still. Like prioritizing—which apparently means other people have to come first, aka, before me, aka, uggh. Like serving others—and let's not talk about the suggested smile. Like responding—which is apparently different than what I do, which is called reacting. Like leaving tasks undone—which is already my worst nightmare, before I learned it was to be traded for reading books or playing on the floor or helping a small, screaming overlord take his beauty rest. Like supporting—which requires me elevating someone who is not me, while simultaneously refraining from commanding or attacking or criticizing or otherwise seeking to motivate or manipulate or expect any certain outcome (clearly, I'm flabbergasted by this one).
Yes, the stay-at-home mom gig defeats me. Daily. It's relentlessly pruning my ego.
make no mistake... I CONSIDER QUITTING. Often.
Oh, how I daydream about dropping the screaming, needy kid off and running away to work.
Oh, to trade this hyperglammy SAHM role for something that pays, where the rewards are not just greener... but maybe even attainable.
But for whatever reason... I don't. I can't. I'm sold on the hope that this SAHM career is a killer long-term investment.
My life goals changed—without my permission. (Yes, despite what the house and I might look like, I still have goals.)
And my new goals are kind of... awkward. mushy. woo-woo.
I want to do love. Not just watch and wonder at how others do it. Not just point at nice or interesting theories of it. I want to go all in. I want to radiate love's essence so thoroughly that it spills out, not just onto, but into, other people.
Now, I'm not Jesus, so it might not play out quite as fairytale-ish as all that.
But I'll shoot for it, and then be content if even just a few people I come in contact with feel loved, like they mean something crucial to our world.
And because I'm totally inept and new to this type of self-conquest, I'm trusting the love experts, the experienced, real-life heroes of our time—like Mother Teresa—on the how of this thankless challenge.
I'd thought she'd say "open an orphanage" or "donate to relief aid" or "volunteering at a homeless shelter on the weekends." Nope. She said something much harder:
And I suspect she is right about this—about me.
Because if I can't do love right and well in my own home—if I don't practice it on those around me every day—I won't know how to truly love and affect that kind of change elsewhere.
So yes, I'm starting small. Right here, right now, with those God has placed in front of me, in my own home.
So yes, I'm "justa" SAHM.
And yes, this is entirely underwhelming for my self-esteem—like when someone asks me, "what do you do?"
I'd like to say "I'm a lead domestic engineer" or "I'm a child development specialist" or even just, "I work from home, full-time." (Because, #truth people, truth.)
But I stick to the jagged, unshiny truth and say, "I stay-at-home with our son."
And yes, that answer feels like a major career and life regression. It stings, right in the poky pride spot.
But something funny is happening to that spot. It's shrunk—just slightly. And the warm, sacred space that just fits the small head and cheeks of a sleepy, red-headed pirate singing "mom-ee, mom-ee, mom-ee" appears to be widening.
And while this doesn't make me any more important to the world, maybe it means I am a world of important to one small, but growing, person in it. Maybe I'm just important enough to be his SAHM—to do love, for him—like it's my full-time career, even if I don't get paid (in this life).
Points to Ponder + Discuss:
- What has the transition to motherhood taught you about yourself?
- What value does staying-at-home have? What value does working outside the home have?
- Do you wish you worked outside the home more or less? Why?
- What rewards have or do you hope to gain, through your journey of motherhood?
- Ponder / discuss the verse below, as it might relate to the topic: