Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the entire world. Typically, you show up for your first day without even realizing it, until your preliminary test results arrive a few weeks later letting you know that you are, in fact, officially on the job.
The requirements of the position are steep from the get-go. The hours are 24/7 with no breaks, manual labor is involved and total physical transformation is necessary. Oh, and - there isn’t any kind of compensation for this position. This is a volunteer only kind of deal.
After the initial onboarding, which usually lasts roughly 266 days or so, the job description will change a bit to accommodate for new requirements. You’ll have to be willing to sacrifice your sleep, be on call around the clock, and be solely responsible for feeding, clothing, changing, bathing and caring for someone else besides yourself.
For the next 18 years you will be all in, every day, pouring your physical, mental and emotional energies into the well-being of the person in your care. And beyond that, this person will most likely be a large part of the rest of your life.
Whew, that’s quite the job description I’d say! All joking aside though, motherhood is one of the craziest, most challenging journeys someone can embark upon and you will quickly find that in order to have the best fighting chance to thrive (or even just survive!) throughout motherhood, you’ll need a tribe of support around you to help as you wade through the trenches and seasons of life as a mom.
When I was in high school I had the privilege of nannying for an amazing family with two young boys, one of whom was on the autism spectrum. I was the oldest of four kids, and had years of babysitting experience under my belt by the time I reached 16 and began serving this family.
Every day I would show up and take over life with those little guys for a few hours while their mama enjoyed a much-needed break, spent either getting things done that she couldn’t when she was “on duty” OR indulging in some well-deserved pampering.
Two things especially stick out to me about my time spent working with that family. The first is that this woman treated me, the girl she’d chosen to care for her children in her absence, with the utmost respect and compensated me well for the work that I did for her. I remember the first time she mentioned how much she intended to pay me and, compared to my other part-time minimum wage gig, let’s just say I was thrilled!
You see, she understood the value of what I was providing because she recognized the tremendous value and weight of what she herself did, day-in and day-out. She also valued and understood the importance of both taking care of herself so she could best care for her family, and taking care of those who played a role in supporting her through her motherhood journey.
The second thing that was impactful about my time with this family was truly having a front-row seat perspective into the challenges of being a mom. I’d obviously grown up watching my mom be mom in our family. But when you’re invited into the inner fold of another family’s life, you see things a little differently and have your eyes opened to things you may not have realized before.
At the end of my time working with this family, I’d learned so much more than I’d previously known about everything motherhood entails and truly felt privileged to have learned from a woman who did motherhood beautifully. She was no June Cleaver or Martha Stewart by any stretch, but she was real, and she was honest and she loved and cared for her family with unmatched ferocity, while seeking the help she needed to continue doing it all well.
Shortly after I was married I began working for a new family - the same week that I discovered I was expecting my first baby! I was with this family caring for their three small children from 7am-5pm, Monday through Friday, for the first five months of my pregnancy and this experience was a whole new kind of education! Little did I know just how well I was being prepared for the season of life I was entering into as a mama who ended up having four kiddos in only 5 years!
Throughout my time with this family, I learned so many things. I learned how physically demanding it can be to continue caring for your little ones while dealing with the physical demands of growing your own babe at the same time. I learned a lot about the importance of giving yourself grace and not expecting too much from yourself or your kids. I learned boundaries and that kids need to be lead with firm and compassionate guidance.
I also learned so much about what it meant to truly nurture the hearts of little people. Maybe it was all my new mama hormones at the time, but the relationships I developed with each of those kiddos was beyond anything I could have ever anticipated - especially for children that weren’t my own! Those kids changed and grew my heart, and shone a bright light on the best and worst things about me. Which is exactly what happens when you become a mother.
I share all of this to really illustrate the amazing impact that caregivers can have in a mom and her family’s lives, as well as the unexpected impact that working with these families can in turn have in the lives of their caregivers. This beautiful symbiotic relationship is something that should be treasured by both parties, because at the end of the day it’s not just about a job or just finding someone to “watch” your kids for a few hours.
It’s about learning honor and compassion and how to serve others in the name of supporting each other through the challenges of life. It’s about learning what you can from each other and taking those lessons learned into every season of life yet to come. And it’s about recognizing the inherent value in every single life, young and old, and making choices to nurture those lives so they can flourish.
I encourage all you parents out there to remember the true value that your caregivers provide to both your and your children, and honor them for that. And to all the caregivers, don’t forget the value that you are also receiving through doing the incredible work that you are. Learn all you can and continue to serve with your whole heart. You’re changing lives and having yours changed as well.
Kelsey is a wife, mama, writer, speaker, coach and Founder of TheHomeLovingWife.com. When she’s not busy braiding hair, tying shoes or tackling endless mountains of laundry, you can find her catching up on lost sleep, binge-watching Netflix with her hubby or pouring her heart and soul into helping women pursue peace, purpose and grace in marriage and motherhood! Kelsey lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband Andrew and her four daughters, Julianna, Sophia, Chloe and Isabel. You can connect more with her on Facebook or Instagram.