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“What are you going to do with your free time?”
I hear the question a dozen times in a week’s span and each time it’s asked, I feel my defenses rise, along with my need to justify.
This year is one of transition. My youngest has started kindergarten, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I find myself alone five days a week.
Why My Stay-at-Home-Mom Title Just Got More Complicated
I have not returned to a traditional job, so the question persists: What are you going to do with your free time?
I have no simple answer for this. My need for validation from friends and even strangers bothers me, but so does the thought of them judging me for being a stay-at-home-mom with no kids at home.
The truth, of course, is a bit more complicated than that.
I am a stay-at-home-mom. I’m also a work-from-home-mom. But because my job does not fall into a neat category, I find it difficult to explain.
Financially, I’m not a big contributor to our family. Because my work falls into the ‘self-employed’ category and because I’m still in the early stages of monetizing my blog and my writing, I often feel like a fraud claiming “I work!” when I don’t bring in a steady paycheck.
In my mind, I know that everyone has to start somewhere, that this chance to focus on my work on a regular basis will reap rewards in the (near?) future, that it’s an unbelievable blessing that we are in a position where I not only don’t have to go back to a traditional job, but that my husband is so supportive of me following my dreams.
But I still worry…
That others will judge me.
That I’ll fail in my pursuits.
That I’ll realize what I do doesn’t matter.
Five days into school my son gets sick. We don’t even make it a full week before school germs invade our home.
I immediately begin to resent my lost time. How will I ever make this a legitimate business if my work time is constantly cut into? I’ve already discovered that all the home stuff… laundry, cooking, cleaning, errands… eats up a good portion of my days without the kids. How will I ever make this work?
And then I remember the other reason this work from home thing is a dream of mine.
It’s for this very reason.
It’s so I can drop what I’m doing at a moment’s notice when my kids get sick.
It’s so I can check YES, I’LL ATTEND when they have a field trip or when the school needs volunteers.
It’s so I can be there for my kids without worrying about eating up my personal days at work.
And because I know what a blessing this freedom is, because I know that so many parents would love to be in this position, I will do my best to stop worrying about what other people think I do with my time. I’ll do my best to drop my defenses. I’ll do my best to use my time wisely without thinking that the only way I’m a valuable part of our family is if I’m bringing in a paycheck.
What am I going to do with my free time? I’m going to use it to serve my family and work towards my dreams. I think that’s a pretty valuable use of my time, don’t you?