I stopped working six-and-a-half-years ago to stay home with our kids. For me, for our family it was the right choice. It was the choice I wanted to make but once the newness wore off I felt worthless, like all the my talents were packed away in a box and now I was needed only for changing diapers, nursing, making peanut butter & jelly’s and cleaning up mess after mess after mess. It felt like chores anyone could do and yet they all left me exhausted and emotional. Life felt monotonous and boring when I believed my role was reduced to those few things. When I let motherhood be only about physical needs.
I went back to work last week. I left the kids after an early breakfast with the most amazing sitter and came home to them fed, in pajamas and tucked in bed waiting for me to sing and pray. Between the baby-sitter and my husband they were cared for, fed, clean, clothed, played with, exercised…all their physical needs met. They had adventures with the sitter I don’t take them on and they had extra time with daddy then days when I am home.
They were loved and they knew it.
But, they didn’t have me and they knew that too. In my exhausted, lacking patience, uncreative, un-playful days I am still their mom. No matter the ratio of hard days and good days for me or them I have great worth to them. They need me and want me. Your kids want you too even when it doesn’t feel like. For the first time I saw what people had been telling me. My kids need me to sing them silly songs, climb into their cribs to snuggle, read books with character voices, chase them through the snow pretending I’m a polar bear, show them how to trifold towels so they fit in the closet and organize their dresser drawers. All those gifts of creativity, problem solving, organization and management that I thought had been packed away in boxes indeed had not!
It is easy for me to believe our culture that reduces staying home to being a maid, a cook and a nanny. It is very difficult for me to not compare myself to the woman with a styled, tidy home or the one with blown dry hair and heels at church every Sunday. But, as women and as moms, working and at home we do so much more! We create rhythm and order, we give life, we comfort, we protect, we teach. You stretch the last apples two days instead of one so you can skip a grocery trip, that’s budgeting and brilliant! You manage lots of people who all have conflicting opinions. You might change a lot of diapers but if you have a one-year-old that isn’t a simple task. You might feed babies all day but when they are hungry and you stop what you are doing to give them attention that is sacrificial and loving.
We bring worth that the world dismisses and our comparison to each other allows it! We categorize and define everyone into boxes. We compare. We lay down judgement of “breastfeeding is best” “you don’t co-sleep?”, organic and not organic milk…the lines get drawn and the sides get chosen.
But the beauty is we are not of equal talent. We need each other!
Do not take lightly that you can grocery shop with three kids in tow or get ready for work and your kids ready for daycare all before 8 A.M. or care for sick parents with patience or gracefully cruise sidewalks in heels. Do not take lightly that given your environment be it a workplace, a home or somewhere in between your voice matters because it’s yours! Your perspective can affect the world no matter if your world is three tiny humans or 300 Instagram followers or 3000 employees.
There is worth in the small things. How you treat people, you affect people who observe you loving your kids or giving your husband a night off or meeting deadlines or taking a heartbreak and choosing to pick yourself up. That affects the world, that changes the people. Don’t underestimate yourself by saying “I’m just a…” you aren’t “just” anything. You are a woman created for a world who needs your creativity, organization, voice, chaos, order and life!
Fight to be that voice in your world no matter how trivial it seems…you don’t know who it might change!