Sunday, December 5, 2010

mothers who don't work

I was accused the other day of not working. It was intended as a scathing insult. The accuser? Let's just leave it as she-who-must-not-be-named, the family member who's now officially cut me out of her life completely.

This particular missive spent much time comparing us, with, of course, her being far more favorably represented. We're both mothers, she said, but an intrinsic difference is that she's
always worked while I stay at home doing nothing.

In my book though, being a full time stay-at-home mom is just about the most challenging job that exists on this planet. You're on call 24/7. At any moment the nurse could call, an argument breaks out, someone throws up and boom - you have to drop whatever you might have been doing on move yourself to the bottom of the priority list. You soothe after nightmares. You mediate fights, you spend hours cutting 1/2 inch cubes out of styrofoam for an igloo project.

You listen. You nurture. You discipline. You are the CEO of an company that doesn't give sick days. You can't roll over vacation time. There is no vacation time.

Sometimes, when motherhood particularly overwhelms me, I fantasize about getting a conventional job. Just the thought of sitting on the bus and commuting sounds like heaven. Being in a meeting and not being able to take a call? Heaven. Arriving home with dinner and homework and baths and walking te dog and cleaning up a thing of the past? Bliss.

While I know my fantasy isn't quite true - it's more a grass is greener outlook I would never slam mothers who have a job outside the home. I can't imagine the juggle and stress that must go along with that particular double duty.

If I'm not wearig those shoes, I don't judge. Which makes the denigration of stay at home moms all the more infuriating. I chose this life. I am grateful I can be here. It's the most demanding job I've ever had. And yet to many, motherhood doesn't count as work.

To raise compassionate, thoughtful, motivated, well-rounded, grounded kids is just about the most valuable job I can think of. They are our future. They will make an impact in the world. They could save the planet. Cure cancer. Invent new synthetic gemstones or develop gaming systems that will revolutionize the way we play (the current aspirations of my two).

More importantly, if I do my job well, they will be there for each other, no matter what. They will treat others with repect and kindness. They will find their individual roads and move through their lives with hopefully not overwhelming stress or pain.

At this point in my life I am many things. I am a public school PTA president. A graphic designer. A writer. A hoster of every family holiday. A class parent. A potential kidney donor. A partner. A daughter. A sister. A friend.

A stay at home mother.

That's not an insult. It's a gift.

1 comment:

Amy Oscar said...

I made the choice to stay at home, too. When the kids were older, I got a job. Each step of their journey became a step in mine. Nothing is written in stone.

Staying at home was the hardest and most important work I've ever done. I would not, looking back, trade that precious time - and the healing gift it gave to my family (including my parents) for anything.