Friday, October 16, 2009

Seeing the Benefits...

As the title implies, I'm already seeing benefits to being a stay-at-home-mom, (or at least a regular stable entity), in the lives of my babes. 
Sometimes, near 24-7 parenting (with a few scheduled 'breaks' in there) can be demanding to say the least - especially for balance driven folks like myself. 
I've been working at maintaining balance in my life - as while I am a SAHM, I also run a small side business. The business involves something that I love, so it's wonderful to have such an opportunity. But, I was hesitant to venture into being my own boss for the sole reason that everyone else I've witnessed do this - basically sold their soul to their work. 
I once worked for/ with a gal who was most productive when "her hair was on fire", as she put it. I never could comprehend this - because for me - that feeling was not only not motivating for me, but it was rather debilitating. I found that if I kept things on an even keel, and didn't feel like I was giving up other aspects of life that were important to me, I was (and am!) much more productive. It's like those people who put every part of their very being into their work - just don't get my take on it. This explains our falling-away, and my decision to continue to pursue what I love, without the 'boss breathing down my neck'. 
Of course this comes with some set-backs initially. It takes some time to get your name out there - and smaller businesses are generally just 'less trusted', if you will. I've taken great strides to protect myself and clients with legal contract design, insurance, and a steady flow of loyal followers who refer me to loved-ones seeking an artistic wedding photojournalist. (So grateful that they feel this way about me! 'Tis the best way to gather vendors for such an important day, surely.) 
There is value not only in being able to still work doing something that I enjoy when the opportunities are there, but also - in the ability to truly have a say over my schedule. I've been able to focus on my family in these first couple of rather trying years. Now, as things become increasingly easier on the home-front, I can gradually shift my focus for an even greater sense of balance between the two. 
Here's the thing. I can never allow it to shift too far, and tip the scales too greatly. I truly enjoy what I do. But I recognize that these early years with the kids are some of the most significant in developing a bond, trust, and stability. It means that we will maintain a special connection that should translate well to understanding when mommy does have to 'go to work'. Rather than being viewed as a disappointment by my babes, they will likely identify with the passion I feel about reveling in my photographic endeavors, and see that it doesn't diminish or take away from the passion I feel for them as well - even heightening that passion for them further.

Going back to a previous colleague... I can recall how many hours daily were being spent in-studio - away from home - and her kids. I specifically remember her little boy crying and distraught as he stated things such as, "Mommy has to work again?" "I don't want mommy to go to work." All of his innocent associations with mommy were seemingly based on an emotionally charged separation anxiety - even at the thought of the imminent future (recurring) separation. Even when she was at home, she spent hours 'perfecting' one single photograph, and that took away from her mommy-time that much more.  I knew right then that I didn't want to be 'that mom'. I don't mean to judge, and perhaps when she's at home with the fam - it's much better than what I've witnessed on just those few occasions. And, I think it is very important for us to do what is meaningful to us - so that we may be fulfilled, and be the best parents we can be. But, when we are able to balance work, and other aspects of life, with our kids' needs, we really are being the best parents we can be. 
I'm so blessed and thankful that I have this ability. My dedicated husband is largely to thank for this, as he is committed to maintaining our primary source of income so that my job can remain something that I will truly thrive on and enjoy, and won't feel regret over my involvement with. We are ever grateful that his source of work offers flexibility as well.

My little honey was surprised that after a recent appointment, I arrived home before her bed-time. She was overjoyed, and expressive about it. She said to me, "I love you so much - I love you when you are here with me! You're the best, mama!" No amount of money or "fame", or satisfaction in my work could ever compare to the gratification of hearing those words from my little person! 
I don't have to fret about leaving them with other care-givers in the family. I don't have to feel guilty for it either. It's very freeing. 

So - the point is in no way suggesting that you 'give up working to be there with your kids'. Balance is essential. The point is something more like, 'when you ARE there with your kids, truly BE with your kids. Again - balance is essential. Be a stable entity - and make the time spent with them count too.
TIP! If you mix it up - and allow yourself the opp to enjoy some things outside of the home, including earning a steady source of income, you can actually strengthen the bond between you and the babes - so long as you don't obsess over the outside 'sources' when you are with the babes. Work to live, rather than live to work! Balance, balance, balance...  This may also mean balancing your spending... If you strive to budget your finances, and prioritize accordingly, you can make adjustments to your work life if you feel it would be beneficial. (Certainly our current economical struggles mean that many parents are required to both work full-time outside of the home. But again - when the work-day is done, and you are with your family - really enjoy the moments. They'll notice!)  
A QUOTE: "Some people sell their soul to make a living. Others make a living in order to feed their soul."  ~ Yours Truly :)
WHIDFML: Really stood back and reveled in the adorable little people God has blessed me with, watching contentedly while they interact lovingly with one another - mimicking many of the words and mannerisms that we employ when interacting with them. (And giggling all the while - as it's about the cutest thing you could witness!)

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