Monday, January 12, 2009

The Mother Load

I was having a discussion with a friend recently about how neat it is to find old friends on the ever popular Facebook. You get to see what people did with themselves, how they grew, who they became. My friend was saying she was glad she had moved away from some of the past friends, because she had made quite a life for herself, and she didn't know that she would have if she had stayed in that circle. It got me thinking about choices and perceptions.

I was kind of a keener in school. It started as soon as I stepped through the doors of elementary school, and continued on throughout high school. Well, except in Math, but that's a whole other story. I enjoyed participating in class and I would get pretty upset if I got a poor grade. Oh, I skipped classes and did all of the normal teen rebellion stuff, but at the core, I was the girl who wanted to be at the top of the class.

When I reunite with schoolmates, I feel a little defensive. I know I shouldn't-but I do. I think most of them are shocked that I am "just a stay at home mom." Now, I could do my spiel about how once my first daughter was born I decided the daycare costs were not worth it and that I was more qualified to take care of my daughter than a stranger. Which then led me to opening a successful home daycare, which I ran for seven and a half years. Well into having my second daughter. Most of the children I watched stayed with me into their school years and I still stay in touch with their families. But, I get the feeling that somehow, people expected "more" from me. And that may be my own insecurity about staying home, but the feeling is valid either way.

The truth of the matter is, though I loved learning and getting the recognition of receiving high grades, at the top of my "goals" list was having a family. I think because my own home life was filled with so much turmoil and inconsistency, the desire to have a picture perfect family prevailed. Even my graduation yearbook has my ambition listed as "realizing the white picket dream."

Fast forward to today. I closed the home daycare when my husband's job moved us four hours away from everything we'd ever known. The idea was to spend the year at home getting my girls used to their new digs. It would also be my youngest daughters last year at home before starting senior kindergarten. (I didn't send either girl to junior) And that was a great choice for us and instrumental to our getting used to our new life. Now, however, both girls are in school full time, and I'm left wondering what to now do with myself.

On the one hand, my plan was to go back to daycare centers as a supply teacher. (I have my ECE) That way I could pick my hours and days, and be home for holidays and summers and sick days. Problem is-where I currently reside the need is not there. So, I look elsewhere. But really, what job can I find that will allow me to be home by 3pm to meet the bus? To start only after my girls are safely on the bus to school. That I can be off summers, and holidays and whenever the school calls or the girls are sick??? I've done the home daycare, but I feel that has run it's course. So, what? Right. No job that I can find.

So, I'm at home. And I'm busy. Six and a half hours seems to zoom by. There is always something to do. Laundry and cooking and cleaning. Volunteering at the school. Working out. Even though I'm happy at home, and proud to be continuing my "keener" ways in my home, it still feels like it's not enough. People will often ask me (usually other women), "what do you DO all day?" or "don't you find the day LONG?" And I know they think it's somehow being lazy or not contributing. Some days, I feel like that too.

But when I look at my girls and the way they are, I have to be proud. They are wonderful, confident, secure girls. They are involved in many activities and have a mom that is very hands on. I'm here when they are sick. I'm here when they need someone to read to them. I'm here when they need help with homework. I'm not tired or stressed from my career. I truly think, for our family, my being home has contributed to them being how they are as people. They are happy and polite and caring individuals.

So, why then does that not feel "good enough" some days??? And why does the message that it's not seem to come from other Moms?

I don't judge other Moms that need to, or want to, work. Not everyone is cut out to be at home 24/7 and SHOULDN'T be. And that's fine. We all have our place and our strengths. So why can't my being the CEO of my family be enough for them? Why does it feel, at times, like I've somehow disappointed?

My Mom will say things like, "what about using your education?". I use it everyday! Others will say, "what about contributing to the family income?" I SAVE money by being home.

I'm happy at home. Yet I feel constant pressure to "do more" or "be more." And I don't know if that's external or internal. Or a little bit of both.

So, I continue to search. I search for the magical job that will allow me to be both at home and making an income. I search for the balance of being a Mom and being a Woman. I search for the acceptance from myself to just "be". And I continue to dream. Isn't that an important lesson to be teaching my children? That sometimes your own personal path isn't what others expect, but you should follow it anyways. That to pursue your own dream, you may have to take an unfamiliar or rocky route?

In the meantime, I'm a hell of a Mom. A hell of a Wife. And a hell of a Woman. And I make a darn fine CEO of our household. And best of all, I've definitely met my ambition of the white picket dream. (with a few fence posts that need mending, but still standing) And I don't think everyone can say that.

And still, I continue to dream.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Keep dreaming, girl - sky's the limit! And way to rock being CEO - I think that's a perfect title.