Quite often, when working mothers feel the need to justify themselves, I hear the excuse that “this job is a once in a lifetime opportunity.” Of course, the reasoning goes, I can’t be expected to turn down this job that will never come my way again, just to stay home with some snotty-nosed kids! Note that “once in a lifetime opportunities” are only important if they bring in money or prestige–after all, each woman who goes back to work turns down the once in a lifetime opportunity to be everything to her child in those precious early years. Your baby will never be a baby again.
This post was originally much longer. I waxed eloquently on how such once-in-a-lifetime “dream jobs” are not always all they’re cracked up to be, particularly with families in the mix. I brought up several women, including our lovely mentor mom, Donna, who was out of the workplace for 20 years, raising her girls, before going back for her PhD and becoming a professor. I listed the numerous fields that won’t just go away if a young woman takes time off to be home with her young children–we’ll never stop needing doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers, foster moms, teachers, and the list goes on. I brought up the CEO who spoke of “dying with guilt” for neglecting her children in her rise to the top. But I deleted it all, because a woman who even speaks of her job in this way is not going to listen to whatever I say. She has already made up her mind, and she’s not reading this blog, anyway.
Instead, I want to encourage our readers who have embraced the other once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being all in for their kids. Good for you! Your sacrifice is worth it. These few precious years are your one shot to be everything to your little someones. As they grow and make friends, go to school, and eventually leave the nest, other influences in their lives may grow and overtake yours. But for now, on this day, you are their world, shaping their little minds and souls. What a privilege. What a calling. Press on. I’m rooting for you.