Why ease in to 2012 when we can take a flying leap directly into the epicenter of the maternal conflict?
Sister blogger ButIDoHaveALawDegree graciously permits me to run her latest post here, in full, and I’m certain it will strike a major chord with you. I’ve not read a better expression of the maternal angst resulting from the false choice foisted upon us to either raise our children or provide for them financially. As parents, as people, as mothers, we can do both, and should we wish to, we ought to be able to without impediment from out of date attitudes about gender, and employment practices designed for workers with no other competing obligation. Families don’t look or function the way they used to, and in most US communities, paid employment is an economic imperative. It is totally possible to bring the realms of family care and making a living closer together – already many parents run the house, raise the children, and go to work. It ought to be easier to move between these two worlds within a day, throughout a child’s first months, and over an adult’s entire worklife as the caregiving needs shift and change.
The frustration, joy, love, ability and sheer grit revealed below show what we have to gain by removing obsolete ways of doing things, and the cost of failing to remove them now. This is what Law Degree has to say:
I am happy staying at home, you know. Really. Notwithstanding all my recent posts on my devilish toddler, my guilt over splurging on a pair of boots, judgmental attorneys who hate women, and the monotony of my daily life, I actually am happy with my current job.
I am the first to admit I’ve been a bit of a Debbie Downer recently. I have a couple of excuses: First, it’s cold and dark outside. As I’ve mentioned before, this tends to bring on a funk each year, no matter my employment status. Second, this blog is my place to vent. For some reason, I have more of an urge to vent when I am sad than when I am happy. So the “wah wah wah,” “I’m bored,” “feel bad for me posts” tend to outweigh the “what an awesome day,” “my kids are the joy of my life,” “you know you want to be me posts.” When I’m happy, I don’t always want to write about it. I’d rather just live in the moment.
My last post was a particularly depressing one, in large part because I’d just gotten back from vacation. (Isn’t everyone depressed when they get back from vacation?). In any event, I suppose I can see why, to an outsider, it may seem like I am a miserable stay at home mom who regrets and laments walking away from my career. In fact, a commenter asked me this very question: “Why do you choose to stay at home? It seems as if you don’t enjoy it. Every single thing you typed is the exact reason I work outside of the home (the need for something other than monotony, the need to be intellectually stimulated, etc.). I have great admiration for SAHMs, and I’m not at all trying to judge, I promise. But, it seems that so many SAHMs are not happy…”
I thought this was an interesting, genuine question. So here’s the answer:
This job is hard.
It’s harder than my biglaw job for sure.
It’s all consuming and exhausting and there are no sick days.
It can be boring.
It can be isolating.
It can be demoralizing.
It can be completely unrewarding.
It can make you question who you are and who you have become and who you are supposed to be.
BUT And this is a big but.
Someone has to do this job.
And if someone has to do it, I want that person to be me.
I want to be here in the morning to wake the kids up.
I want to pick Braden up at school, even when he throws a tantrum and hits me and causes a scene, because I want to see him in his element and know his teachers and know his friends and make sure he is wearing his gloves.
I want to make sure that Casey’s food is cut up in teeny tiny pieces so that he doesn’t choke. I know that no one, not even my husband, will cut it up as small as me.
I want to be there for the tantrums.
I want to give the time outs.
I want to hug them when the time outs are over.
I want to witness the tender, most unexpected moments when Braden decides to make Casey laugh.
I want to volunteer at school events and host playdates. I want to take them to the park when it’s sunny out.
I want to take them to doctor’s appointments.
I want to take their temperature and make sure that they get all 1.8 mls of Motrin, and not a drop more.
I want to kiss their faces whenever I want to.
I want to kiss their boo-boos when they fall.
I want to cuddle with them both as much as they will allow me to.
I want to document this time in their lives – in my memory, in photos, in this blog.
I want to live and appreciate every single moment.
And here’s the thing: I could probably still do all of the above things if I was working outside of the home.
But, NOT working means that I can do all of the above things without added stress.
Without outside responsibilities.
Without the pull of billable hours or clients or bosses.
Without having to take vacation days.
Without having to monitor a blackberry.
Without having to think of anything of real importance outside of the two most important people in the world to me.
And that is a gift.
A gift that makes all the tantrums and boredom and hard days worth it.
SO worth it.
Every night when I put Braden to bed we “talk about today.” We go through all of the day’s activities ad nauseam, and the narrative always ends with, “It was a wonderful day.” And you know what? I mean it. Every time. And as I tuck him in and leave his room, I silently mourn the day that has passed and know that it’s one less day I’ll have with him as a little boy.
The fact is, I have the best job in the world.
Thanks, LawDegree, for tellin’ it like it is. Girls, let’s “mom up” , take care of ourselves and each other, and keep pushing for a world which cherishes us as much as we cherish our children.
“Til next time,
Your (Wo)Man in Washington