“They’re only little once.”
My son was almost six-months-old when my grandmother decided to offer me unsolicited career advice. I’d be lying if I said the thought had not crossed my mind. Return to the working world or continue as a stay-at-home mother?
I considered my two graduate degrees, sure, but ever since the wee hours of a July morning back in 2013, life had dramatically changed. I was a mother now. And yet, a longing lingered in me to make a difference, no matter how small, outside of the home.
In the months that followed, I submitted numerous applications and accepted the only job I didn’t actually seek out. Quite simply, I knew it would allow me to be a hybrid mother.
For nearly four months out of the year, I am a mom who is free of employment responsibilities. I travel, I run, and I most certainly don’t set the alarm. My days begin and end with my children without the job stress in between. For all the highs that it brings me, I am more physically exhausted, but it has given me a deep appreciation for those parents who serve their children without end. You really are the heroes among us.
When I am not covered in sunscreen, sweat, and spray (the insect kind), I am committed to encouraging young minds in the college classroom while still, of course, prioritizing my little ones. The sleep is scarce, but the very act of exercising my scholar self keeps me young (even if only in my mind). I eat far too much chocolate, and my students hear things they probably don’t care to know (e.g. how long it takes to extract a raisin from a toddler’s nose), but the organic reciprocal learning is enough to fuel my days.
Every year, it seems some CEO or high-powered executive has written a book professing a new path for motherhood – a way for women to make their kids well-adjusted geniuses without compromising their brilliant careers. Well, my opinion in the debate is this: I think every mother should get to experience both sides, if they so desire. I have met far too many mothers who have either mourned the loss of their professional selves or, in my grandmother’s case, their children’s early years. The grass is always greener from a distance. And maybe a balanced perspective is not only helpful, but essential for finding our path to contentment.
I understand that most mothers who value sanity would not choose a hybrid motherhood. The transition between seasons is difficult, and the entire endeavor requires a willing and patient partner.
But at the end of the day, no matter how much rest or professional gain has been lost, I think of my children and smile. They are little but once, and I get to watch them grow.