My oldest son, Justin, was home two weeks ago during his first spring break as a college freshman. It was great to have him home. He is a typical young adult who stays up late and wakes up at noon most days. He was smart enough to go to bed the night before our 9:00 a.m. dentist appointment and didn't give me a hard time when we had to wake up early. Now that he's over 18, the dentist's receptionist thought it was time for him to fill out the paperwork and I was proud of myself when, as a controlling mom, I stood back and let him handle it.
During the course of the week while he was home I rarely knocked on his door to check on him or interrupt his quality time with his little brother. I respect that now that he's used to being 'on his own' at college and enjoying the freedom of dorm-life, seeing his mom all the time could get annoying. I really enjoyed the time we spent on Friday night playing Rockband on the 360. It is so awesome that my boys actually let me sing while they play drums and guitar. It was so much fun and I was so happy to spend the time with them.
One day while Justin was home I looked through my 'memory' book. My memory book consists of a chronological history of my life in a nutshell. The book includes: my birth certificate, report cards, class pictures, my 'fish' swimming certificate from the YMCA, awards, PSAT/SAT/LSAT scores, college acceptance letters, the bill of sale to my first car I purchased, love letters and cards from my future husband, and essays and papers written for many an English class. The reason why I opened the treasure trove at all was to find a postcard that my husband sent me when we were dating. I vaguely recalled that the picture of the black kitten on the post card had a distinct resemblance to our current kitten, Chloe. I found the post card and while yes, it was a black cat, the eyes were blue versus Chloe's yellow eyes. Oh well, I was close. I still enjoyed sharing the post card with the boys.
The very last document in my memory book was my last pay stub. I felt compelled to show my son this piece of paper with numbers on it. I wanted to prove that, yes, your mom, at one time in her life, made a significant financial contribution to this family. I'm not sure how impressed he was but I believe he is old enough to understand the importance of this document to me.
I went on to explain that in 1994, when I was 29 years old, I made $43,000+ per year. I was the breadwinner of the family. Mommy wore the pants in the Taylor family. I went on to explain that I was a much different person back then too. I got a major portion of my self-esteem through my career and accomplishments at work. I also explained that at that time I realized that it wasn't my job that loved me, it was my family that loved me. My family gave me joy.
While it's been years since I've been the breadwinner and my self-esteem is worn, leaving a well-paying job can be justified when joy is found elsewhere. By leaving this position I was able to de-stress my life, get pregnant with Nicolas, and expand our family.
I no longer collect a paycheck. I've created a memory book for each of my kids. It has become a useful tool when completing college applications. The value of the memories and accomplishments of my boys captured by these memory books cannot be calculated hourly, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, nor annually.
The price of joy is immeasurable.