My life of luxury still stands but the luxuries have changed. What was once over seas holidays, crumpled up grocery receipts, invisible price tags and disposable incomes have now been exchanged for local camping trips, humble expenditures and tiny smiles. My greatest luxury of all, one that I cannot afford to take for granted as it slips through my fingers with each tiny milestone and each overdue bill, is time.
On the days when I spend more time trying to discipline than cuddle, taking than giving, shushing than laughing, it is hard to see the luxury; to remember that in-between all of those annoyances and hard days, if I were at a paid job Monday to Friday then I would miss all the in-betweens, those beautiful precious moments that happen more often than not but also only happen once.
This unpaid job of motherhood is self-sacrificing on every level but just as equally self-sacrificing if I was a working mother. I’ve done both. I’ve been the shift-working mum whose hours operated outside of daycare hours, therefore never being able to do the drop off or pick ups. I’ve come home when my child is already asleep and left before they have woken; I’ve gone days without actually seeing my child awake. I’ve slept all day on week ends and worked on major holidays, I’ve been the second to tend to my child when sick instead of being immediately at their aid when it is me they needed most. I’ve slept at work to gain more awake time at home and I’ve chastised myself enough to ensure that I felt as bad a mother as I thought I was being. I missed my sons first roll, crawl and probably a whole bunch of other milestones that the daycare were too nice to tell me about. Quitting caused just as much guilt, thinking I was letting my family down by giving up an income that provided us with luxuries most could not afford, guilt for not being able to ‘do it all’.
Right now the sleepless nights and demanding toddler are my luxury because I don’t have to rush out the door to work with match sticks in my eyes, instead I bundle the kids in my bed and we make it through the day together; laughing, squabbling, trial and error. I get to see my son interact with his baby sister and together we wait to see her roll and crawl for the first time. Together we wait for dad to come home.
My life of luxury still stands but the luxuries have changed. The wine might be cheaper and the holidays shorter, but the time I have with my babies now will eventually be swapped with office politics and coordinating school drop-offs with my husband, questions of who finishes work first and who is putting on dinner.
This unpaid job of motherhood is self-sacrificing but the luxury of having the opportunity to do it is the greatest luxury of all.