This Mom Loves Her Job

When I was little, I wanted to be a wife and mommy when I grew up. I think it’s because I grew up with a single mom and a mostly absent father (who came around just enough to tease me with his presence). Christmas and birthdays would come and go without hearing from dad. When I got upset, my mom explained that Koreans favor boys over girls. It was a helpless feeling, and it made me want to build my own family (including a dad) in which all kids felt equally loved.
Fast forward to today. I’m blessed with three of my own children and one stepson. We didn’t find and meet my stepson until he was seventeen, but I love him like he is one of my kids. I was a working mom with both girls, trying to make ends meet while I was a single mom and when Joe went to law school. I decided to stay home with my youngest until he was six and tried going back to work for two years. My middle child was in sixth grade this past year and was coming home alone and being by herself for hours after school. Growing up in VA and teaching there and NV, I’m used to sixth grade being elementary school. But here in Texas it is middle school. There are no after school programs for kids her age, so despite a bad feeling we decided to go with it and let her come home alone. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it didn’t work out. She was too young to be unsupervised all that time. She got bored and lonely, and I worked very demanding hours. I was not able to give my attention to my kids the way I would have liked to.
Since I decided to stay home again full time, there is a whole new appreciation for what it means to be a mom full time. In some ways, middle school is just as important a time to be there for your kids as when they are infants and toddlers. Yes they are separating from parents and peers matter more in their immediate worlds. But I’ve noticed a bigger smile on their faces and how much of the time I had previously spent being ‘too busy’ to talk or play games or go outside.
I work hard to balance me time with kid time, and the kids are learning to give and take in that department. At the same time, I’m modeling self care and also making it a point to do more fun things together with them. We redid our schedule and chore charts for summer. We have structured learning time and relaxed fun times. We brainstormed a list of things to do together.
I’m pretty sure my bucket (of self esteem) might not have been filled to the brim before I became a mom. That’s my focus now, doing a better job of filling my kids’ buckets before they are loose in the world. Mean people are everywhere (even in the adult world) and life is never easy. With enough self-love we can learn to rise above whatever struggles might appear. Being a mom is the best and most important job I will ever have!

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