When I used to be a stay at home mom, I didn't appreciate the gift I had. I heard all the time how fortunate I was to "have the luxury" to be a SAHM, and I knew from a financial standpoint, that I really was. But I don't know that I ever really realized the incredible gift of time with my kids that I had. I spent a lot of my days tired and maybe a little grumpy. I felt like I was meant for so much more than "just" changing diapers and washing dishes. I was jealous of my then husband, who got to escape from the household and parenting duties to go play Army on the daily. He got to engage in conversations with real, in the flesh, adults, and my social life ceased to exist outside of my laptop's keys. The monotony of staying home with two small children in a place where I knew next to no one weighed heavy on me for sure, and I thought often of when I'd find myself back in a classroom or on somebody's payroll. I had no idea the incredible blessing that I was wishing away every single day.
When my ex and I separated, I saw it as a blessing in disguise that I would have to find work immediately. I snagged a job very quickly that had me working 40+ hours a week, and I was grateful for the distraction from my crumbling marriage, and the cross country move I'd just made. I made friends for the first time in my adult life where our only common ground wasn't just that we were married to the military. Although in retrospect, these friendships were short lived, they were exactly what I needed at the time, and I keep them in a happy spot in the back of my head, grateful for the personal growth these friends unknowingly sparked in me.
When I first because a single mom, I had the first opportunity to go out with friends, child free. It was new, different, and fun, and I was appreciative of the break it gave me from just being a mom 24/7.
Time passed though, and the more "freedom" I got from "just being a mom", the more I yearned for the time when my only duty was showing my children my unending love. Sure, I'd had household chores, and had handled the finances as a SAHM. But what I'd never had to do was work multiple jobs, hardly see my children, and despite my best efforts, still have to figure out which bill was just not going to get paid this month.
It is now, when the luxury of being a stay at home mom is so completely unattainable, that I yearn for it. I don't want to share my kids, and I don't like having to stuff their backpacks with the dolls and pajamas that they just don't want to go without while they're with Daddy or Grandma, or Aunt Heather. I know it is silly to feel this way when I see my kids way more now than I did for ten very long months last year, but I still feel like I don't get nearly the time that I desire with them. They are little for such a short time, and I feel it is slipping by in the hours while I work, and it scares me. I know that one day, I will wake up, and it will be the morning of my daughter's graduation, and I will cry and wonder how in the world this day has already come. My son will announce an engagement to a future spouse, and I will think back to when his biggest worry was what spoon he was going to pick to eat his oatmeal.
I wish I could quit my two jobs, or even just one, but I can't and will probably never be able to realistically do that. I think back to when I longed to work outside the home, and I wish I could tell my former self how absolutely blessed I was. When I felt like I couldn't take one more temper tantrum or wet diaper, or one more episode of Elmo's World, I would tell 21-year-old me to cuddle closer, to sing those Laurie Berkner songs another time, and to push the double stroller around the block for just a few more loops.
It is now when I would give up anything I could to just have my littles stay home with me all day long.