When I had my kids, many years ago, I didn’t have the chance to be a “stay at home Mom.” I had to work. I had to leave them with babysitters or day care staff. Finances and insurance needs made this true.
But back then, I often thought that I would have loved to stay at home. I imagined the art projects, the cookies baking, the stories being read by the fire. It all seemed so idyllic to me.
I was wracked with guilt about leaving my best beloved little ones in the care of other women. I will never forget the time that my little son, barely able to speak, walked through our house on a Saturday, opening closet doors and calling for his sweet day care Momma. “Nella?” He sounded so sad as he opened every door in our house, looking for the woman who cared for him every day. “Nella?”
My heart broke into a zillion pieces, and if I hadn’t known and loved his Nella, I might have strangled her.
Now, at last, after decades as a working woman, now I am that stay at home woman. I am “Nella” to my grandkids and one of their friends.
They love me.
We have fun here. It is a safe, interesting, creative place.
And now, at last, after all these years, I understand why so many stay at home moms of my generation wanted nothing more than to break out and see the real world.
Staying in the same house, the same four rooms, day after day after day after day, serving the same snacks, watching the same movies, playing the same games…….
All of this is incredibly important and supportive for young children.
But it is also incredibly mind numbing for the adults involved.
OK, I know that I am lucky. As in, unbelievably, incredibly blessed to be there every day in the lives of the children I love most on this beautiful earth.
I get it. Yay, me! Yay, Nonni! Go, me!
I go on Amazon at least ten times a week, ordering movies, books, crayons, pains, dress up clothes and musical instruments. I am so happy to be with the kids every day.
You know what? There are definitely days where I look at myself in the mirror and think, “No one has actually looked at me today. I could dye my hair purple, grow a beard, get myself a new nose: Nobody would notice.”
There are days when I realize that I am the giver of string cheese. The wiper of poopy butts. The finder of lost toys.
There are days when I honestly feel like I could be replaced by a nice soft robot.
And this is why I am now the strongest supporter of young parents. Moms, Dads, working or staying at home. These young adults are doing the work that is most important for the survival of our entire species. They are keeping children clean, fed, safe, entertained and engaged.
They are creating the next generations of humans who will keep our species going.
So I am happy to be a part of this most important job. I am.
But I am also acutely aware that there are days when I have not done one single thing that uses my training, my intellectual skills, my knowledge. There are days when the most important thing I have done all day is to put an “Elsa” bandage on a scraped knee.
As I look back on my life, I guess I have to say this. I’m very happy that when I was a young, untested, untried, unproven human, I was not called upon to be a stay at home mom.
Young parents: You have my utmost respect, support and love.
Go, you! Whether you work outside of the home, or stay at home with your kids, YOU are our future. You are the best of all of us.
I bow down to every single one of you.