One sacrifice I hadn't realized I would be making was the sacrifice of the satisfaction that comes with completing a task, the satisfaction one attains from doing a good job on a task or from attaining a goal. For nearly my whole life until my decision to stay at home, I had been in a school setting, either as a student or as a teacher. With classes come assignments which require hard work all of which result in grades. As a typical first-born daughter, I strove to do my best, and earning A's on my report card was important to me, not just for the A's themselves, but because those grades represented the culmination, the completion, of some very hard work on my part. They were a very real representation that I had done a good job. As a teacher, I was able to see students learn new information, improve and leave my classroom better students than when they entered it. (ok, not all of my students did, but you get my point!)
But there are no grades given for being a good mom. Most of the time, I am quite thankful for this! But, whether it is selfish on my part or it is a common human trait, there are times when I do really wish for some type of grade, some idea of how well (or how poorly!) I'm doing this "job." Don't get me wrong, Shawn is very supportive, but there is still something inside me that yearns for the days of being able to "check off" items on my To Do list with a feeling of satisfaction. Now, of course, moms have huge To Do lists, but somehow these jobs never actually get done.
Item 1: Vacuum. Sure you can check that off, but guess what? Your son just dumped his bowl full of cracker crumbs all over the floor, and now you have to do it all over again.
Item 2: Go grocery shopping. Check. But wait, not only do you have to do this again every single week, but you also have to spend money on food that just never seems to stay in the refrigerator.
Item 3: Change Diaper. Check - for this hour at least.
Anyway, you get the idea. The list never ends. You never get to finish the list and throw it away.
Now, I, in no way, am suggesting that moms who work outside of the home don't have just as many things to do, nor am I trying to start a debate on the whole "who works harder" issue. I know lots of working moms and am totally amazed at the jobs they do, both out and in the home. I'm just saying that there are days when I do envy them the opportunity to achieve goals in the adult world. I want to have that sense of achievement again.
But then I have a day when I just happen to walk into my son's bedroom and see this:
Would my children love each other were I to work out of the home? Most definitely. Would Claire "read" stories to Ben and would Ben want his sister to "read" to him. Surely. Would this moment have happened some other time. Probably. Is this moment something I have "achieved" as a stay-at-home mom? No. But would I have necessarily been there to witness this one particular moment. Maybe, maybe not.
So, maybe I'm not earning A's, writing and defending a thesis, or teaching intelligent young women how to think and write critically, but I am a stay-at-home mom, and, right now, being privy to moments like these make all the sacrifices worth it.