It’s 5am on Wednesday morning. Once again, I am awoken by the hideous screeching of my alarm clock. I quickly, yet gently, grab my phone and silence the alarm trying not to wake the precious baby sleeping in my arms in the process. Gently slipping my arm out from under my little one’s head, I kiss him on his cheek and I begin to prepare to leave him for the day. Words can’t describe how much I hate this.
He is my last baby. He is the last piece of my heart. He is also the last of 3 babies that I have brought into this world and been unable to stay home to raise. With each child, I prayed and I tried so hard to find a way to be able to stay at home instead of having to leave them behind for 4o+ hours a week and with each, I failed.
I’ve done the math a million times and every time, it just makes me angry. There are exactly 168 hours in a week. For the average working Mother, 40 hours of those 168 are spent away from home, behind some desk, making someone else rich. Approximately 10 hours a week are spent on preparing for and commuting back and forth to that job each week. Assuming the kids are getting their “required” 8 hours of sleep at night, 56 hours of the week are spent asleep. This leaves the average working Mom with approximately 62 waking hours to spend time with their children a week. That means we get to spend less than half of the week with our children. Obviously, this doesn’t take into account any after school activities that our children may have, sleep overs, doctor’s appointments, etc. All of which takes quality time with our children away from us in some fashion.
According to the US Department of Labor, approximately 70% of Mothers with children under the age of 18 participate in the workforce now with 75% of them working full time. Moms have become the primary, or sole, earners for 40% of households with children under the age of 18 today. As one of those Moms, I can honestly say this is not by choice. It is pure necessity. I can not speak for all, but I do know that if it was up to me, I wouldn’t be the primary provider for my home and I certainly wouldn’t work 40+ hours a week away from my babies! It’s just the way the cards fell for me.
Yes, I am thankful that I have a job and can provide for my family, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t envy those Moms who do not have to be financial providers for their families. Being a Mom who has no choice but to leave her babies to be raised by others every day of her life, for me, is one of the hardest things in the world. What I would give to not have to kiss my baby goodbye every morning, to be able to be there and see that beautiful smile every day that he greets me with on the weekends, to be able to fix him breakfast and rock him for his naps every day, to not have to miss his first words and so many of his other firsts, and more importantly to not have him grow up thinking Mom is going to leave him every day. There is nothing that I enjoy more than being a Mom and I would choose being Mom over any career title, any day.
As I grab my keys to walk out the door, I hesitate, as I do every morning, and ask myself if I really need to leave them again today. The answer is always that I have no choice, of course. I quietly walk through each room giving my sleeping children kisses on their foreheads and whispering “I love you” in hopes that they will always remember this no matter where we each may be. Each time I lock that door behind me, I feel my heart break just a little more and I pray that one day I won’t have to leave them behind anymore; one day, my dream to be a SAHM will come true. One day… Until then, there is no one that I envy more than SAHMs.