Twenty-four years ago I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. I was thirty years old and the sparkle of my corporate job had lost its shine. I was ready to devote my energy into our growing family. Even though it meant our household income was going to be cut by two-thirds, my husband was completely on board with my decision.
It was a struggle financially, but my greatest challenge had nothing to do with money and everything to do with my worth.
I had always attached my worth to my accomplishments and my paycheck. Even though I was raised to believe I could do or be anything I wanted, this didn’t include being a stay-at-home mom. Being the first person in my family on both sides EVER to graduate from college, my father felt I was wasting my education by staying home to raise my kids.
This was in the early 90’s at the height of the “mommy wars” so I also felt judged by the community I left behind. It seemed to be the topic of every talk show and newspaper article, but I’m sure it only seemed that way because I felt personally undervalued.
So I decided if I was going to feel fulfilled in my new career choice I needed to find value in the daily, mundane tasks of running a household. I don’t mean placing a financial equivalent to each task as if it was hired out. I mean value. I mean worth.
The beauty of the feminist movement is that it birthed the opportunity to choose. Women were free to enter the workforce and choose new career paths not afforded to our “foremothers.” Women were no longer relegated to being teachers, nurses, librarians…or stay-at-home moms.
I needed to start by believing that the job I was doing, being a mom, was indeed worthwhile after being conditioned to believe that greater opportunities lay outside of my little house. There was no way I was going to change society’s mind about my choice. This was all about convincing myself that I was indispensable in the functioning of our family.
So how do you place value and importance on dishes and laundry and diapers?
Mindfulness and gratitude.
I started by lighting a candle every morning. It was my way of creating a sacred space for me to tackle the tasks of the day. Then I would find ways to consider each chore as a blessing to my family, being grateful for the opportunity to do it for them.
For instance, when I would do the laundry I tried to take the time to fold it lovingly, being grateful for the clothes we had to wear. Having to do the laundry meant that we were blessed with abundance.
When I did the dishes or cooked a meal I was mindful of being blessed with the ability to provide food for my kids. Dirty dishes meant that we were able to eat together as a family.
When I scrubbed a bathroom I was providing a healthy environment for my family to thrive and scrubbing every toilet meant I had indoor plumbing. Housework in general meant that we were blessed with shelter.
And changing all those stinky diapers? Well that meant that I had a healthy kid!
See, my friends, it’s all about perspective. I wasn’t just a “stay-at-home mom” anymore. I was the “love glue” that kept our family together. My job might have seemed mundane to someone with a more glamorous title but I was perfectly content to bless my family every day and be MOM.
Oh, and about a paycheck? Well those are finally starting to roll in now that my kids are grown and “adulting” all on their own. I couldn’t be more proud of the women they’ve become.
“A miracle is just a shift in perception.” – Marianne Williamson