A Post for Moms

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.)


Michelle Glauser said...

Go Amy! I was just visiting teaching and I couldn't believe the overly-protective way she worries about her kids (or at least that's the way it came off). My mom was so lax, and I appreciate that. Then I thought, "Well, if that's what works for her and her kids, that's great." You're right. Everyone's different and everyone's trying (well, mostly). I'm glad you're happy with your status.

Morgan Hagey said...

Amen. MOST of my parenting years have been spent working as well as parenting. I LOVED every minute of both worlds. When it made little sense to keep working (when we moved here to Utah) I stopped. It hurt for a bit, and now I'm embracing a different season. And I'm happy. But when I need to get back to work (for financial reasons or for personal ones) I will. And I'll love it too!

Charlotte said...

I've always had a foot in both camps, too, as a "work-from-home-mom." But I think the best thing that ever happened to my sanity has been sending my kids to a friend's house one day a week.

I don't even think that each family has their own one right way of doing things. I think every family can find a way to make a lot of different things work to their advantage. It's all about your attitude, perspective and, as you said, values.

Amy said...

Right on. One of my main goals is for my children to know that I LOVE being their mother. Not sure if that translates into effective parenting, but it's important to me that my children are aware of how much I like parenting.

Sarah said...

I so totally agree with this! I'm a full time stay at home mom now, and worked for two years, full time then part time, to get to the place that I wanted to be at and althought I experience the whole range of frazzled mom feeling that you so eloquently detailed, I'm so happy with it!

ps: what inspired this more serious, yet wonderful post?

Bootchez said...

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.

One reason (among many) I chose to remain childless.

Mindy said...

Amen. AMEN!!!! I can't agree loud enough! Love you. :)

Melissa said...

True dat, Amy! You're the best!

Anonymous said...

that was awesome! i totally needed that today!

Heather said...

Fist bump for this post. What you believe you are, you are. You know? If you believe you're miserable, then there you are. Miserable. If you believe you're struggling, you're struggling. If you choose to believe that parenting is hard and horrible, it is. I'm not saying it isn't hard at time, and that I don't struggle, but how I choose to frame it in my life keeps me from letting it take me under.

Grandma said...

Well put Amy! Proud 2b yomama:) xo

Beth N said...