January 7, 2010
(Wow, I don't think I used potty humor once during this entire post. I prrrrromise I'll bring you some on Monday.)
I've never, never, never been a player in the whole 'working mom' versus 'stay at home mom' debate, and believe you me, I'm not about to become one. I'm a huge believer in the idea that we're all individuals. What works for one family doesn't necessarily work for another. If my dogs--you know, the ones who voluntarily eat out of the trash can?--are special enough to have their own personalities, preferences, and routines, then damn it so am I. We all are.
What I do believe is this:
Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.
That's a quote by Ayn Rand, and it's my absolute favorite phrase in the world--I buy it hook, line, and sinker. I truly believe, that if a mom can honestly identify her personal and family values--flexibility, stability, attachment, education, faith, adventure, etc--she'll wake up and find herself and her family, for the most part, happy.
Will challenges come? Yes. Will plans fall apart? Probably. Will every minute of every day be fun? Of course not. But I do think that living according to a set of personal values can make for and undertone of happiness--a better default mode if you will.
Honestly, I find it hard sympathize with the plight of the unfulfilled mother. I can definitely commiserate with the frazzled, overwhelmed, stressed out, I-can't-handle-this-whining-for-another-second mother. Of course the depressed mother gets so much of my compassion and understanding. And the I-don't-have-enough-minutes-in-my-day mother? To her I say, "What up, sistah?!"
It's the I've-lost-my-identity-and-I-think-I-hate-it-but-I-won't-do-anything-about-it mom, that I find hard to handle.
My point is, if you can figure out what makes you tick, go for it. Finagle a way to make it happen--even if it takes eight years. Working, staying-home, whatever you feel you need to be doing--just please make your kids believe that it's a great/happy/nice thing to be alive on the planet Earth.
Don't convince them it's a crapfest. Because it's not.
Before I go on with my random (and probably obnoxious?) soap boxery, I can't ignore how fortunate I've been since I've become a mother. I've always been lucky enough to have a foot firmly planted in both worlds. From the time James was born, I was able to adjust my story depending upon who was hearing it. If I was talking to a working mom, and she asked what I did for work, I was able to say, "I'm in grad school." When I was chatting it up with a group of stay-at-home moms, I'd say something more to the tune of, "I'm home with James and go to school part time."
Either way, I was able to fit it. Somehow, I still am. I work part-time. My kids are in daycare part-time. I can 'pass' with either group. I'm so glad to say that I've never been the subject of the "How can you leave your kids all day?!" or "You're only a stay-at-home mom?" type of questions. Either way, those words make me want to barf.
And as a side note, I just need to say that there are some really crappy day cares out there. But I can promise you that there are some really great ones, too. I'm sure this sounds cheesy as all get out, but I love my daycare provider like she's a member of my family. I'm pretty sure I'm not deluding myself when I say that her time with my kids enriches their lives and she adds a whole different dimension to my parenting. I feel happy when I drop them off and when I pick them up. Plus, she feeds them organic food and plays classical music--beats the heck out the saltines and PBS they get at home. Seriously, if James and Maggie ever turn out to be the valedictorian of their high school class, they'd better thank their daycare provider in that speech, because hoo boy, it didn't come from me.
Moms, let's be nice. Let's help each other along. We all love our kids so much that watching them do something as mundane as eat soup makes our head want to explode into a million, little pieces of heart-shaped confetti. Really now, doesn't it?
A happy mom makes for a happy kid, so go ahead and figure out what has value to you, and find some happy for yourself. Teach your kids that they're loved. Show 'em that life is good. Chances are, they'll be just fine--after all, they've got you for a mother.
(That was, hands down, the corniest ending I've ever mustered up.)