My response was simple but still holds true today.
"Motherhood is not a job. It is a relationship."
Motherhood is simply the definition of my relationship to my sons. A very unique relationship as I am the only mom they will ever have, even as they add and take away friends and try out a few partners before finding the one.
What has changed is my work status. I have a job now. A real out in the world, paycheck and contracts and having to show up at work job. And it is this job, this moving from not working to working full time, that has made it even more clear to me that motherhood was never my job.
If it was my job, did I quit on them, my precious boys?
See that's part of the problem with seeing motherhood as a job, the toughest job.
If I go back to work, the implication is that I am leaving them, that I am choosing my new job over them, my old job.
But I am not.
I am still their mom. I still tuck them in at night and make sure they say their prayers. (For the younger two at least. The oldest has decided he's old enough to put himself to bed.)
I still make sure to ask how their day was and when I find out they had a fight with a friend, I talk it through with them. I teach them the importance of apologizing when you are in the wrong, and then I make sure we set up a play date soon with the friend to let them both know that forgiveness is possible and that friends fight and make up.
I still say no sometimes and have even been known to take away screens for a week at a time when one of my son's has not made good choices with his devices. Because I care more about him as a person than the convenience of having him distracted by a screen when I am tired after a long day at work.
And I still love seeing my kids be who they are. Not a reflection of my parenting but the people they were made to be. I am so enamored with my boys, with who they are themselves. I love being their mom. Because being their mom means I get to spend time with them. I get to hear their secrets. I get to help them through the tough times. I get to help them make good choices.
Those last two are what they wrote in my Mother's Day card this year.
My youngest also wrote about my love of beer, coffee, and my bed, so I am not sure how much credit I want to give the words they wrote.
Motherhood is not the toughest job in the world.
It is not a job.
It is a relationship.
And I am lucky that I get to have that relationship with three amazing boys. (I can still call them boys because as of this writing, I am still taller than them. But not for long.)