Wednesday, September 18, 2013

5 favorites: job perks

Back in February of 2011, I wrote a post (Titled "Raindrops on Roses") about a few of my favorite things.  I had anticipated it becoming a recurring series (it didn't), but since then, I've found Hallie's blog and her 5 Favorites link-up every Wednesday.  I thought this was a good opportunity to start singing along with Julie Andrews - here are a few of my favorite things!

In future weeks, I'm sure I'll hit all sorts of other favorites, but this week I've been thinking about my day-to-day and my vocation as wife & mother.  I've written before about some of the challenges that come along with it (being reduced to a not-well respected title, for one), but I am acutely aware that I'm privileged to have both the opportunity and choice to stay home full-time.  I know that many families aren't in the position for someone to do this, even though they may want it desperately.  I also want to make it clear that I don't unilaterally think that this is the best scenario for every family at every time - this is by no means meant to make working moms feel guilty.  I just wanted to reflect on the good things (for my own sake and for anyone else who's reading and needs a little encouragement in the day-to-day) that have convinced me that this is the right choice for us right now:

1) I can focus on doing one thing well instead of fumbling through juggling two.  Let's be honest, running a home and supervising a toddler isn't really ONE thing, but at least it's one category (one location!) of things.  It's a bit of a stretch to say that I'm doing everything "well" yet, but I'm working on it, and I'm definitely doing it better than I would be if I was also managing a career.  There have been some opportunities where I've been able to learn something about housekeeping or parenting that I never had time to research when I was working (you should have seen how giddy I was when I figured out how to get white deodorant stains out of black shirts!).  I also know that I would be too distracted by my concerns for Anna and my running at-home to do list to be focused and perform well at a job right now, and I think my employer deserved someone who could give the position the attention required.

2) I have the time and energy to focus on what really matters.  Ultimately, Anna's care and education, but also, my marriage, our extended family, and the community at large.  I'm doing far more volunteer work at the church than I could ever do with a job, and I'm in the position to be able to help friends with new babies, make meals for people who need them, etc.

3) I have the flexibility of schedule to meet Anna's needs. I am so thankful that I can let her sleep each morning until she's ready to wake up.  If she's having a hard day with new teeth coming in, I can spend a few hours rocking her (see #5, development of the virtue of patience).  For most of her life she could sleep when she was tired and eat when she was hungry (and I could write a whole other section on how great it is to be able to breast-feed without worrying about pumping and washing all those bottles!).  Even now, as the daily routine becomes more formalized (don't worry, it's not a total toddler dictatorship!) I can be more attuned to her specific needs and adapt to meet them.  Work deadlines don't move just because babies need cuddled, and meetings aren't rescheduled just because toddlers needed to sleep in a bit that morning (at least not in the line of work I was in!)  She'll be weighed down by the ways of the world for enough of her life - I don't need to burden her with an adult schedule yet.

4) It's a witness to the world about the importance of children & family.  In general, the world doesn't accept that the day-to-day tasks of caring for children and running a home are important enough for a well-educated woman to undertake.  However, those of us who are making this choice are taking a stand in saying that it IS worth our time - not because cleaning dirty bathrooms or washing lots of laundry has value in and of itself, but because they are acts of service to people who are absolutely worth our time.  This vocation ultimately highlights the intrinsic good in children, home, and family - all things that have been desecrated in our society.

5) It provides many opportunities to develop virtue in my own life.  Yes, the ultimate goal of parenting and housekeeping is very lofty, but the day-to-day doesn't have a lot of glory.  I have frequent occasion to practice (or attempt to practice) patience, self-discipline, compassion, and humility (among other virtues) - and time spent completing physical tasks (cleaning, nursing, cooking) allows more time for self-reflection than, say, thinking about a spreadsheet report.

Other moms - what are your favorites?  I've never actually sat down and listed my reasons before, but it's been an encouraging exercise!

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