I’m not working. I’m mothering.
My kids are not my “job.”
They are my family.
I know people have the best intentions when they say that “working inside the home is the hardest job on the planet.”
They are trying to give us moms a shout-out, and I’m grateful for that.
But the sooner I start thinking of my family as my job, the sooner I start to feel sorry for myself.
“Woe is me. I’m working the equivalent of two full-time jobs and no one is paying me a cent,” I think.
Maybe this doesn’t happen to anyone else….
While I appreciate the sentiment, because moms are super hardworking, I’m afraid it’s inaccurate to boil down motherhood to man hours.
I love the phrase about fathers: It’s not “babysitting.” It’s fatherhood.
I think that’s an important differentiation to make.
Can we apply the same rule to mothers?
I’m not “working.” I’m mothering.
Mothering means a lot more than housework and chores.
Mothering means playing. Mothering means pretending. Mothering means cuddling, creating, listening, teaching.
Yes, it’s non-stop until bedtime.
But it isn’t the depressing “work” that some studies make it out to be.
“Most moms have one hour to themselves a day. They get by on coffee, Netflix, and wine.”
Some of us moms are actually living our dream.
I used to view motherhood as a job.
I used to live for that one hour a day when I could unwind and do whatever I wanted.
I didn’t necessarily need more time to myself.
I needed to change my thinking.
I needed to find joy in my children.
Because motherhood isn’t the same as paid work.
Unlike paid work, which often keeps us from our families, motherhood is actually cultivating the family.
It isn’t easy, but there is joy to be found in it.
If I can learn to lay down my own agenda, go with the flow, and actually engage with my kids, I can find the joy.
And it’s thrilling.
I know it’s hard.
You couldn’t pay me to do this.
And you couldn’t pay me to not do it.
I’m living the dream.
The dream is amazingly simple, but magical.
Some friends and I were talking recently about what we would be doing right now if we weren’t mothers.
We mused about living on a beach, renting out chairs.
We teared up as we remembered career ambitions and dream jobs we turned down for motherhood.
But dreaming aside, we would all have been working full-time.
Probably burnt-out on our ambitions and wishing for simpler times.
That’s the gift my children have given me.
A key into the secret and wonderful world of childhood.
A chance to be a kid again.
An invitation to imagine.
To swim in kiddie pools.
To read books I would never choose myself.
To sing songs.
To splash in puddles.
To walk slowly.
To pick up sticks and stones and feathers.
To stop striving and people-pleasing.
In a way, mothering is my ticket to Neverland.
It’s a lot more than just housework.
If I didn’t have my two darling boys, I’d probably spend more time running by myself.
Hours and hours of running solo, wherever I wanted.
But you know what happens when I run alone now?
I’ll run past a park and wish my kids were with me.
I know I go slower when they’re there.
But I also notice more when they’re there.
I might not get the mileage, but I get plenty of memories.
They show me things they find, and make their own observations.
They laugh and ask me to take their picture.
Everything is a richer experience when I bring my boys along.
They force me to slow down…not always by choice.
Eat a snack.
I just need to let go of my own agenda.
My own need to feel productive.
When my boys are with me, everything is harder. But it is also more rewarding.
Most stay-at-home moms I know are also frugal in order to make it all work.
We’ve made significant sacrifices.
We gave up the hustle for something simpler.
Consuming less, earning less, but living more.
And no, the “simple life” doesn’t have to mean life on a farm in the middle of nowhere, churning your own butter.
I’m a city girl, at least for now.
But it can mean finding the abundance and joy in the everyday.
Viewing your children as a blessing and not as a burden.
Cutting out the unnecessary things and making room for the important things.
If you’re feeling burnt-out and empty, give yourself lots of grace.
Listen to these words I often speak to myself:
You are not a terrible mother.
You’re simply focusing on the wrong things.
You’re viewing your kids as a job.
As a chore.
Rather than something that gives you life.
Mothering isn’t “work” exactly.
It doesn’t pay well.
It doesn’t always feel rewarding or “productive.”
But mothering is extremely valuable.
Mothering isn’t childcare, but it does eliminate the need for childcare.
In that way, I’m helping out my family and my husband.
I’m saving our family money.
I’m able to instill our values better than any babysitter.
I’m able to enjoy that quality time with my boys during these fleeting years I have with them.
Now I’m not out to judge those mamas who work to support their families.
I was a working mom for several years and I know that finding that balance is possible – even healthy.
But this full-time mothering thing is so much more than a job to me.
It is a lifestyle that I’m blessed to call mine.
It’s the hardest thing ever and also the greatest thing I’ve ever done.
The best memories are often the simplest of days.
I’m not counting down the days until my eventual “retirement” from parenting.
I’m here, living, loving, and trying to be present.
It isn’t easy, but it’s important.
I’m not paid, but I’m very rich.