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Growing up I was always focused on school and having a career. I was not the girl who dreamed of boys, weddings, and babies. I wasn’t sold on the idea of having children at all and seriously thought I might just adopt. I’d never been a baby person. When I married my husband we knew we wanted children, but even then I told him he was going to be the primary caretaker until they could talk. Then my daughter was born…
That moment when they laid that warm, wriggly creature on my chest my whole world changed. My whole focused changed. No one was more surprised than me when I found myself wanting to stay home with her instead of returning to work. I have a Master’s Degree and was a manager at a branch office of a non-profit before going on maternity leave and was sure I would be returning. Fortunately, I was let go ten days after I returned to work, fortunate because I don’t know if my husband and I would have had the courage to keep me home if it hadn’t happened.
Now my job consists of keeping a tiny human alive every day. It’s challenging and the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had and ever will have. Any stay at home or work at home mom knows that the idea that you have quit “working” to stay home is a total misnomer.
My job now entails way more smelling of butts and wiping of noses then I ever imagined it would. Instead of answering to a boss I answer to a tiny dictatress. If your boss has ever given you unclear instructions and expected results you can imagine a little bit of what it’s like to answer to a boss who doesn’t speak except in cries, screams, gestures, and my daughter’s favorite, grunts. It’s sometimes similar to working a retail job where you straighten the same shelf all day except you are cleaning up the same toys over and over again. It’s a job with long hours, where every day is a 12-hour shift or more, and your boss frequently calls you in the middle of the night to come in to work some extra hours.
But I have to say the pay is the best I’ve ever had. Payment is in smiles, sloppy kisses, and eventually I love you mommy’s (I’m still waiting for these ones). I wouldn’t trade getting to stay home in these formidable years for anything. Perhaps once our children are in school I’ll get a “real job” again. It will probably seem like a cake walk after this one.
I’m still frequently struck by the unexpected joy I get from being a mom and the amount of love I feel for my little girl. It’s a love no one can explain to you or prepare you for before it’s there. I never thought I could find joy in watching a baby play or guessing what she wants and needs and seeing her face light up when I guess right. The joy in taking a walk and explaining to her about cars and flowers and Starbucks. I wonder if the high school me would even recognize the woman and mother I have become. Obviously, someone greater than myself knew what I needed better than I did.
Shari (Diary of a SoCalmama) is a mom raising a daughter, two dogs, and a husband in Southern California. Blogging about babies, breastfeeding, baby led weaning, and assorted crafts and recipes at diaryofasocalmama.com. Follow her on Instagram @diaryofasocalmama for a backstage look at the little girl that inspires her blog.