I went to great lengths to stay at home with Henry for the first year of his life. With Tate, I stayed at home with him for the first 5-6 months of his life and then worked at home for the remainder of his first year of life with the help of a nanny. I felt like it was really important to provide them with that kind of foundation. But now that I'm a working mom, I don't ever want to go back!
I sometimes get romantic notions about homeschooling my children. However, now that I've been home with them for one week of summer vacation (only one week!) I am quickly coming to my senses. Don't get me wrong--I am incredibly grateful that I get three weeks off this summer to be with my children. We are enjoying our time together and making memories.
But I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mother. The job is not at my personal intersection of what fills my heart with gladness and meets the world's greatest needs. It was something I could temporarily do early on in their lives, but, for me, it was a sacrifice. And you can only sacrifice yourself for the goal of being a good mother for so long before you are no longer a good mother because you aren't sharing your authentic self or authentic happiness with your children.
I'm making the best out of our days. We spend the mornings going somewhere like the Nature and Science Center. Then we head home for lunch. Tate starts his nap around noon, while Henry and I do some reading and writing work. In reading, he reviews all his letter sounds and practices reading words (like pet, set, met, pen, den) and sentences (like "A fat cat sat on Dad."). In math, he practices counting objects and matching them to number cards. After that, he plays independently for 45 minutes (I set a timer) and then he gets to watch TV (like Bill Nye the Science Guy or Handy Manny) for the remainder of Tate's nap. In the afternoon, we usually visit a friend and swim in our pool.
I'm enjoying our long, leisurely summer days, but they are long! And they are hard! Corralling and coercing children all day long is draining!
I just need to be honest with myself about my authentic path. It's not being a stay-at-home mom. It's not homeschooling my kids (at least while they are young).
Each of us need to find our own paths without any kind of guilt. Those of us who are drawn to work outside of the home need to understand that fulfilling our needs outside of the home allows us to bring our best selves to our children when we do spend time with them. It really is about quality, not quantity.
And for those of you who are choosing to stay home or to homeschool, you shouldn't feel any kind of guilt or regret about not advancing in your "career" or not doing something as "prestigious" as some of your high school or college peers.
Once we identify our authentic paths, it's important to muster the courage to stay the course. We owe it to ourselves and those in our lives.