It used to happen every two weeks. It was routine and expected. It was sometimes anticipated but often taken for granted.
It was earned. It was praise for hard work. It was recognition.
It provided security, confidence, and freedom.
It was a paycheck.
Before becoming a mother I had a good paying commission sales job. Twice a month I received an atta girl in the form of compensation. There was a time when I would pick up my check, fold it in half, and slide it into my purse next to the one from 14 days prior. I didn’t need to get paid. I wasn’t living check to check.
Then I had a child and dropping my baby off at daycare into the arms of strangers was squeezing the life out of me. I had never truly enjoyed my job, so the tradeoffs were out of balance. I was out of balance. So with my husband’s support, I quit and set off on my own. It was scary and empowering like so many good things are.
It felt right up until the day my husband unexpectedly lost his job. Then it instantly felt greedy and irresponsible. We went from being financially comfortable to living on the brink. Oh, how I missed those paychecks.
We made it through that period and are in a good place now, but I still desperately miss checks that contain a comma. I don’t miss being able to buy stuff– don’t get me wrong a trip to Target without giving a thought to the total would be nice.
I miss paychecks for three very different reasons.
1. It was like someone telling you, “Good job, keep up the hard work and you’ll be rewarded for it.”
2. It allowed me to be generous. I wish I could donate $100 here and there to every good cause I see, but sometimes $10 is all I can do. I hate that.
3. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can get you concert tickets and take you on trips.
My God given talents for mothering and writing are not as lucrative as I’d like, which is unfortunate because I love doing both. This lack of compensation leads me to question myself and my abilities on a daily basis.
I’ve lost some security and independence, which has been a real struggle for me lately. I know I’m not alone. I’ve talked with other moms who chose to stay home full-time or work part-time and they love raising their children. But they also hate that it cost them some independence. Being college educated and willing to work hard with no hope of a year-end bonus can feel deflating.
Like most decisions, there are pros and cons. The key I think is finding a comfortable balance. Most of the time I feel like the pros far outweigh the cons. I know with certainty I will look back at this time of my life and remember it as a gift. There will be no regret in the end.
Deep down I know my worth isn’t based on a paycheck. It comes from above, it is intrinsic and intangible. Sometimes that’s hard to remember. So I’ll remind myself and other mamas who need to hear it. You are worth your weight in gold. If we were paid based on hours worked or how well we love, we’d all be millionaires.