Ten years ago last month, I became a mother. I was 23, had no idea what I was doing, and had this sweet little person totally relying on me to nurture her, care for her, teach her, guide her, keep her alive and provide for her. And so I did all of those things to the best of my ability and in the case of providing, that meant going back to work on a part-time basis from home while she stayed at home with me.
She got older and a little more independent and my job morphed into a more demanding role that required I be in an office a couple days a week and off she went to a friend's house for care on those days staying home with me on the others. Life happened, divorce happened, moving and transferring into a full-time position happened. And although all those things were happening around us, this little girl and I still spent every evening and weekend soaking up each other, reading, creating, planting, breathing the fresh air and each other. Life was different, but oh so very good.
Then came marriage and brothers and a little baby brother, and craziness ensued. (Don't boys bring all the craziness to life?!) I could feel myself stretching thinner and thinner, trying to be involved at various schools, activities, raise and nurture these little ones, tote a baby along and give him necessary attention as well. Meanwhile, I was fortunate to have my job become flexible enough to allow work from home, although I couldn't really care for any kids at the same time because I had to remain focused during my work hours.
With all the chaos, we still made the most of life, creating, baking, gardening, hiking, pursuing the activities most dear to us.
As Paul and I became more settled into our careers, we've been fortunate enough to have a few of the extras, and we've been able to travel some and expose our kids to things that we find enriching to them.
But more and more often over the last year, I began to ask myself, "Is it worth it?" Handing my children's care over to other people so much of the weekdays (albeit carefully-considered and loving caregivers), does the end justify the means?
I'm a fairly independent and strong-willed person, and I would think, "yes, the sacrifices our family makes to have 2 hard-working parents are worth the benefits that come with those 2 careers, 2 salaries, a multitude of opportunities."
Yet still I asked, "In 10 more years when my oldest is in college and my youngest is nearing high school with much less need of motherly smothering, will I still think it was worth it?"
Don't get me wrong, I think this question can be answered by many mothers in so many different ways, but clearly, for me, the answer was not quite as simple as I'd come to believe it was.
And so I quit. My last day of life as a working mom is drawing nigh, and I'm scared, thrilled, nervous, excited, skittish, overjoyed, and about a million other emotions all rolled into one already energetic person.
While I'm feeling that crazy jumble of emotions, at the end of the day when these little people come running toward me, I want to give them every last ounce of myself that I can for the years I have left to give them.
I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I'm throwing myself headlong into the possibilities.