It’s that time of year again. The kids have settled into their school routines, the leaves are beginning to fall, and football and cider mills have officially taken over our weekends. It’s glorious!
It’s also that time where Moms tend to gather . . . and chat. I’m not talking about lunch out with your BFF, rather forced situations like soccer and football games, PTA meetings, Curriculum Night, and even the bus stop. Sometimes these encounters are needed and wonderful, but sometimes they’re just really awkward.
Let me back up and tell you a quick story. The week before school started I made time to get a pedicure. I sat down in the luxurious spa chair and dipped my feet in the bubbling water. After soaking for a bit, in came the nail technician. After we talked weather, nail color, and about my runner’s feet that clearly needed attention (gross!), the conversation went more personal . . . my kids, her boyfriend, marriage, etc. Innocently enough, she proceeded to ask the question I’ve come to dread:
“Do you work, too?”
I honestly HATE that question. I have been a stay-at-home-mom since the moment my oldest was born. Two more boys joined our family, and the decision was made for around-the-clock mom status. This set-up worked well for us and continues to do so, even now that the kids are all in school.
The interesting thing is, when you have babies and toddlers crawling around, they become the focal point in a group of forced coffee-induced-chatter. Soon enough, the kids get older, and off to kindergarten round-up you’ll go. Before you know it, you’ll be standing back with a group of moms waving the bus away, and a surprising thing will happen. The focus and coffee-talk might actually shift back to you (hard to believe when you’re in the trenches of sippy cups, pacifiers, and spit-up). The conversation gets flowing and it is not uncommon for it to often land in the same place: work.
There is something about that simple four-word-question that can make me feel like what I’m doing is not enough. In my brain, I examine my entire purpose in this world. I then begin my rambling dissertation about why my husband and I made this choice for our family over 13 years ago, and slowly begin to justify my life. Odds are I end up sounding pretty stupid when all is said and done, leaving them thinking I probably made the right choice, because no one would hire me anyway!
Maybe it’s the “too” that can immediately put me on the defense. It implies being a manager of a household doesn’t carry as much weight as managing one’s clients or the accounting department. In some ways, it really doesn’t because there are no health benefits, tax breaks, or income to support it. I digress. That is not the moral of this post.
There’s also the moment I sit in a group of strong and amazing career-driven moms (that I’m in awe of) that in a flash can make me feel like I’ve single-handedly set back the Feminist Movement 50 years. It’s not their goal or intention, but rather my own insecurities that I’m constantly fighting against as a mother. We all have that relentless voice in the back of our head that makes us question and second-guess just about every thought and decision we make.
The fact is though, I’m not setting anyone back. Not a one. You do your thing and I’ll do mine. It’s what’s so exquisite about the women’s movement – – or women marching – – or women protesting – – or women just being women. We actually get a choice. We decide what works for us in our lives and in our families. It’s a special kind of beautiful.
At the end of the day, us mamas want the same thing. It doesn’t matter if you ate lunch in a sandwich shop while wearing a suit and discussing the big case with your co-workers, or on your couch, after grocery shopping in your leggings and hoodie while texting a friend and watching Lifetime.
Our desire for our children is the same.
We want to be there to tuck our kids in at night and know beyond measure they’re safe and sound.
We want them protected, cared for, cherished, and loved, by us and everyone who has the privilege of coming in contact with them.
We want them to grow and to learn.
We want them healthy.
We want them out of harm’s way in this world that can be so ugly and cruel.
We want to be their advocate, when it seems like no one else will.
We want them to choose joy.
We want their lifelines to come from laughter, rather than pain.
We want to give them wings, so they’ll eventually fly and hopefully come back when they need us most.
Stay-at-home-mom, working-mom, work-from-home-mom, part-time-working-mom: we’re all the same. We’re all moms doing every day what we think is right the best way we can.
Will I ever, “work, too?” Maybe someday, could be tomorrow, or it could be when they’re all graduated and gone. For now, I am done explaining my life away. I think you should be, too.