I have dreaded this day ever since my youngest was born. My husband and I made the decision years ago that for us, two children were the limit, so the thought of my daughter going off to kindergarten has always caused a drop of sadness in the pit of my stomach. Sadness, new milestones, and bittersweet are the words that wash over me as I think of my youngest entering elementary school this fall, but there is also a new word that pops into my mind — something else that’s tugging at me now that the big day is finally arriving. The word “guilt” has been added to my list because I will now be a working mom while my daughter attends kindergarten.
I have been at home with my kids for nearly a decade now. When my eldest child was born, my husband and I decided that me remaining at home as his primary caretaker was best for our family. I was fortunate to have found ways to earn income while caring for my kids — from babysitting, to being a sales consultant, to working remote writing positions. I felt grateful that I could attend school activities and volunteer while my son was in kindergarten and spend time with him after he returned from school.
As we all know, though, life happens. Challenges and opportunities pop up, leading to a change of plans. I didn’t plan to start working outside the home until at least another year, but a job opportunity came that I didn’t want to pass up. My husband now has the chance to reverse roles with me as the primary caretaker. He’s excited to bond with the kids and experience life as the parent who attends class events and help our kids with their daily routines. He’s eager and a little nervous about being the parent home with our children without me there to act as the coach. My kids are a bit nervous, too!
I was able to teach my kids a lot while I stayed home with them and I pleasantly discovered that it worked both ways; they taught me a lot, too. I learned what parenting style worked for my kids and I even fell in love with outdoor activities and took an interest in sports! Now, I need to learn to juggle things differently since the tables have flipped.
I’m aware I need to remain proactive with my kids’ lives and find different ways to be involved with their school. I’m aware I need to be proactive to have quality time with my husband, friends, and myself for a chance to refuel. Luckily, my kids are good at following routines and I know it’s what has kept our household functioning all these years. Looking back on these past years at home, I realized I’ve developed some amazing multitasking and time management skills that definitely come in handy now as a working mom!
I already feel the longing of wanting to be home to spend time and catch up on my kids’ lives. As I write this, I’m terrified of the change, but also, I’m excited for this new chapter in my life and my kids have expressed their excitement for my new career, too.
This new step reminds me that staying home all these years was worth it because I’m confident in the two little humans I helped raised, knowing they’ll be okay, which makes me realize that although the timing may not feel right, it is. They’re good decent kids who are smart and kind. Also, this change reminds me that dads can parent just as well as moms and it shouldn’t be a surprise or unexpected and that all parents are in this together. None of us should feel guilty about what we have to do to raise our families as long as we make the effort to find the right balance.
Also, I’m learning to embrace another word as I prepare for my daughter to enter kindergarten while I re-enter the workforce and that’s “acceptance.”
I need to accept that letting go is part of the process and that includes not trying to do it all when it comes to running the household. I’m accepting that this is a new beginning for all of us and it reminds me that whether you contribute by staying home, going to work, or a mix of both, it’s valuable to your family and it’s all worth it. So, kindergarten, we’re ready for you!