About the time I found myself pregnant with my son, his dad got a new job that more than replaced my income, so I became a stay-at-home mom. Forty years ago it wasn’t all that unusual to go college, get married, get pregnant, and stay home. Happy parents, happy baby who breastfed for 28 months! Later on, a dear friend moved in with us and began sharing the parenting duties, so I went back into the workforce.
Fast forward eight years. New marriage, new career as an executive secretary, new baby on the way. I thought my husband and I had held all the really important conversations over our years as close friends and then as husband and wife…but we had missed a big one. Naturally, I was planning on staying home again after our daughter was born; he assumed I would continue working, as I had been when we first met. (This might have been a deal-breaker if we had discussed it ahead of time. Instead, it was just very, very sad.) He was sure we would starve without my salary, and I didn’t have the courage to insist that we try. I went back to the office when my daughter was 5-1/2 weeks old, and began the constant juggling act of a mother with a job outside of the home. It was not easy, and nobody was really satisfied, but we all survived.
Now that daughter is grown, married, and the mother of my two beautiful granddaughters. I retired two years ago to spend more time with my granddaughters and my elderly father, and enjoy it enormously. I have lived at my daughter’s for the past year, and fill in the gaps between the varied work schedules of my daughter and son-in-law so that our girls are always cared for. This past Thursday’s schedule is typical: Take Lily to school by 8:00 a.m., then cruise across town to Olivia’s pre-school by 8:30. Return to Lily’s school by 9:00, to help in her second grade classroom during reading/language arts time. (My volunteer time spans recess, so I’m able to go outside and play, too!) Leave there at 11:00, and pick Olivia up from pre-school at noon. Go back to school at 2:10 to get Lily, then head back home. Since it was Halloween, there was no homework to supervise; instead we got ready to trick-or-treat at Mom’s job, went to the fall festival at a nearby church, and around to a few houses in our neighborhood. Exhausting, but wonderful!
Later, while touching base about our respective days, my daughter observed, “I’m giving you a second chance to be a stay-at-home mom.” She is, and it is grand!