Caution: Women at Work!

My children amuse me.

They come up with the funniest things.

Last night as I was walking down the hallway to my bedroom, I noticed a sign posted to my two daughters' door. They frequently tape things up there (pictures, signs, etc), but I could tell that this one was new. And it looked special.

So I took a closer look and recognized my nine-year-old's writing.

It made me chuckle as I pictured my nine and six year old girls hard at work in their bedrooms styling their Barbie dolls, listening to their iPods, trashing their room, etc.

As I got busy doing whatever I did in my bedroom, I started wondering, I wonder why on earth she thought to write and post "Women at Work!" of all things.

So I asked her.

She got an embarrassed look on her face and said, "well, you know...cuz we do stuff in our room. We work."

Fair enough. And though I pressed for a little more detail as to why that particular phrase or the reason for using that wording (as opposed to "Girls at Work!" or "Children Playing!"), I didn't get a profound, blog-worthy answer.

Or did I?

I'm very conscious of my "work status," here in our home. I don't work outside of the home anymore at 40 hour (or even 20 hour) a week job. I traded in my work clothes before our second of four children were born. It was always the plan. I know that the stay home/working mom argument can be fraught with high passions and protest, suffice it to say that it was a conviction of mine to be at home with the kids while they are young.

Enough said.

However, as the years have rolled by (it's been almost seven since I left my marketing assistant job), I had come to realize that although I don't miss the office politics, awkward work mores, and the long hours, I do miss being able to go somewhere and produce something that's all mine (or mostly) that earns me a paying wage for my effort.

My work career starting early -- at the age of 14 during the summer between eigth grade and my freshman year. After that, I worked after school throughout high school and the rest was history. I always had some sort of a job -- even through college, and even after when I was "figuring out my life."

When I was in the workforce, I couldn't wait until I could trade in the panty house for yoga pants and staying at home to love on my babies. I thought I would have plenty of time to get all the housework done (instead of doing it on the weekends) and I think I was naive enough to believe that everything would be easier.

I could sleep in.

I could eat Bon-Bons and watch movies.


....I quickly discovered that sleeping in would remain only a weekend luxury (and even then, we take turns) and that somehow there weren't enough hours in the day to even take a shower.

All of a sudden the office politics, staff meetings and press releases started looking pretty good.

Honestly, I just wanted to escape.

Maybe not for 8 hours per day, but even just one hour alone with just me, myself, and I.

Don't get me wrong. I love my children. I'm grateful for them. I wouldn't trade what I'm doing for the world.

But it's so hard sometimes being at home day in and day out.

I always feel like admitting this minimizes the "joy of motherhood," but it's the unvarnished truth. It's my truth.

I know that there are women out there who long and grieve for a child that has never been or was not here for long enough. I understand that for many women there is a "baby/child shaped hole" in their hearts that cannot be filled with something else.

I get that.

But it's the same as when I was a young girl watching Disney fairy tales and wishing for the day I would marry Prince Charming. Again...don't get me wrong. Marriage can be wonderful. can also be difficult, and something that you totally did not expect when you watched Cinderella ride off in the white sparkling carriage with P.C. (the poor guy didn't even have a name!).

The idea of what could be is many times eclipsed by the reality of what is.

My current reality of being a "woman at work" is complicated. It's making dinner, washing clothes, sweeping the floor for the umpteenth time, carving out time to exercise, baking a cake, toilet training, repairing clothing, making time for friends, making lunches, grocery shopping, running errands, balancing a budget, writing a blog, cleaning smeared poop off the minivan's seats (I literally just did this minutes ago), helping with homework, breaking up fights, planning date nights with the hubs, maintaining a vegetable garden, reading for pleasure and not just "how to's, volunteering at the kids' school or at church, cleaning marker off the wall, changing sheets (again!) can go on and on...and it does.

Something always needs to be done.

This reminds me of the time my six-year-old daughter announced, "Moms are no fun, because they have to do everything and bunch of blah, blah, blah."

Actually, I'm not sure I could have said it better myself.

Because honestly, this is the way I feel sometimes. Like I'm no fun. Like what I do is no fun. Let's face it, no one bounds out of bed in the morning and fist-pumps, "I get to clean the toilets today!"

I actually loathe cleaning. I really do feel like I am too creative and intelligent to waste my efforts on drudgery like wiping out the microwave. This photo sums up exactly how I feel. needs to be done. And I'm at home while my husband is out there working hard for that paycheck.

It's that dreaded "D-word" again....Discipline! (I dislike that one just as much as the "P-word: Patience.")

I know that what I do is valuable. It's essential to my family's existence.

And maybe that's what is so hard about it all. They literally need me so much. While it's nice to be needed, sometimes the weight of it can crush you.

Unless you have the right attitude.

I'm working on that. I'm working on balancing everything so that I have time to do things I want to do in the midst of all the things I need to do.

It's not easy...not by a long shot.

But, it's doable. It's something worth working at.

And maybe that's the simple profoundness of my daughter's sign.

She gets it already.

To be a woman by definition is to work. It's what we do. It's who we are. It's how we love.

For me to see her grasp that concept at age 9, and to even find value and self-worth, identification and something to aspire to in that notion is a beautiful thing.

For me...for now....all the things I do day in and day out is part of being a "Women at Work!"

Just because I don't earn a paycheck for it doesn't make it any less valuable or important. And maybe how I go about doing it despite that lack makes it even more so.

So, whether you work in the home, or outside of it, whether you have three children or none, whether your a domestic diva or reluctant housekeeper, your work is important.

You're a woman!

Let's hear you roar!

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