With four kids in school this year, my husband and I made the decision to send my 2-year-old to a Mother’s Day Out program two days a week. He’s incredibly social and loves getting out of the house.
It was a hard transition for me since I’ve always worked in the midst of toddlers and chaos. He’s enjoying the days away from home so much, though, so I’m able to also appreciate the transition.
Now I have two days with long chunks of time to simply focus on work. This is a surprisingly foreign concept for me, even though I’ve had my career as a full-time author almost as long as I’ve had children.
For the last 11 years, I’ve managed 60-hour work weeks and being a full-time stay-at-home mom. My job is flexible enough that I can shift hours around and work after the kids are sleeping — often working through the night completely or waiting for my husband to get home so we can trade duties.
Our situation isn’t perfect and, honestly, it’s stressful, completely chaotic and overwhelming. I seem to always be racing deadlines until the very last second. And often my house is flipped upside down, and laundry — clean and dirty — is forgotten. My kids complain I work too much and my work complains I don’t devote nearly enough hours to growing my business. My life is messy; blending work and home together in a slurry of chaos.
And yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have loved staying home with my children. It’s hard and exhausting, and I’ve gone too many nights without sleep to count. But my kids have always had access to me when they need me. I’ve been able to volunteer for school events or pick them up when they get sick during the day. We’ve had our summer and holiday breaks together, and I am the one who takes them and picks them up every single day.
I know many other moms who would never do life like we’ve chosen to do, and that’s OK. You have to find what’s right for your family. My first four kids, for example, needed to be home. Keeping them with me and trying to write in the middle of their madness was the best thing for them. But my littlest guy needs to be with other kids; he prefers a daycare setting to staying home with me.
You know what’s best for your family. The important thing is living out your life in the right way for your family.
It would have been easy — in the middle of toddlers and tantrums and changing diapers — to send them all away so I could get a few hours of work done during normal business hours. But that wasn’t right for my family. And so I forfeited my time and sleep (and sanity) in an effort to do what was right for everyone else.
Being a mom means sacrificing for your kiddos. Nobody can love our children like we can. Nobody knows what they need better than we do. We make our circumstances — whatever those may be — work for the sake of our families.
One day in the not-so-distant future I won’t have kids at home with me anymore. I won’t have to worry about school drop-off or pick-up; play dates or practice. I’ll be able to schedule my life exactly how I please. Until then, I will continue sacrificing for my family in the way that is best for all of us together. I will continue reminding myself that I can sleep when I’m retired, but I can never get these precious moments back.
Do what’s right for your family — whatever that looks like. Remember the days are long, but the years fly by. When we, as moms, put ourselves after the well-being of the family, the family shines. And so do we.
Rachel Higginson is a married mom to five kids. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has received a Utopia Award for Best Contemporary Romance and Penned Con Award for Best Novella Series. She lives in Omaha.