“I can’t do it!” My girlfriend moaned during her first week back at work, “I want to be home with my baby!” Friends had assured her it gets easier to leave the center of your universe behind while you head off to the office. But why do we want it to get easier? Of course you can work and have children—if you outsource childcare, among many other things—but you’re not really having it all. The real issue is whether you want to make this sacrifice of time spent with your baby for your career. The world tells us that of course we do, and if we don’t, we’re lazy or unambitious. But every time my kids got to the age where my friends are ending their maternity leave, I remember gazing at their tiny faces and thinking that however much I loved my pre-children teaching jobs, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than holding this little person who still needs me so much.
So let’s change the conversation. We are staying home not because we can’t work, but because we don’t want to sacrifice these sweet early years of childhood for a mere paycheck. Some of us have always wanted to be home, some of you only found that out when you had your own kids, and some of you would rather be at work but are staying home because you believe it’s what’s best for your kids. Instead of focusing on what we’re sacrificing by staying home (income, prestige, financial independence from our husbands), let’s focus on what we would be sacrificing by going back to work. We choose not to sacrifice seeing all the milestones ourselves, not to sacrifice the peace of a quiet day spent at home together, not to sacrifice the hugs and kisses from little people during the best hours of their day. We’re owning our desire to be the number one influence in our baby’s life. We’re actively choosing this hard work of motherhood in this season of our lives. Being everything to someone is a beautiful privilege. Let’s embrace it.