The other day I was watching Supernanny and the mom she was trying to help was truly lost. This woman was a stay at home mom with 3 out of control kids (hence the Supernanny show) and a busy lawyer husband. Supernanny asked her what her purpose in life was and her response was “Mom, Mom, Mom.” She had become a mother and it was game over for her. She didn’t feel like she was a person with wants, desires, needs anymore. Her whole life consisted of being in the house with 3 little kids. I sympathized with her and felt sad for her. Not because being a mother is an awful thing, it really is an amazing role, but because some mothers lose who they were pre-children. Just because we become mothers doesn’t mean we stop being women with dreams and goals. But some of us do find that what we want for ourselves is suddenly unimportant because there are children to raise.
I’ve always kind of considered myself to be a feminist. I subscribe to Ms. Magazine, find it appalling that the United States has not ratified CEDAW, support Women’s Rights issues, generally think women can do anything a man does (I have climbed mountains while attached by rope to other men and have found that in dire situations I can pee standing up) and more (I have given birth), and that women are just simply better than men. Well we are. J Feminist or not, nothing prepared me for the choices I made after Jackson was born. Long before I was pregnant with Jackson I always envisioned staying home and raising my children. Despite that lovely vision, I knew I would probably be a working mom. It was just more practical financially. When I got pregnant I still figured I would go back to work after my maternity leave. Then Jackson was born and there was a game change. Kevin and I did look at a couple of day care centers the summer after Jackson was born and I did spend quite a bit of time doing research on centers in Spokane. But the very thought of dropping off Jackson with some stranger while I spent the day away from him just nearly killed me. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to leave my baby. So we made some adjustments in how we lived and just like that I became a stay at home mom.
The first school year of being a stay at home mom I was able to get out of the house one day a week and substitute teach. The same thing I do now. But after getting Jackson’s diagnosis I took a year off to focus on doctor appointments, therapy, and adjust to our new life with a special needs kiddo. During this year I really started thinking about how I wasn’t earning any money, wasn’t contributing financially. It was difficult for me. I have always worked. I have always made my own money. Now here I was living off my man. Every time I bought something I felt guilty for spending Kevin’s money. Let me say here that Kevin shared none of these feelings and continually reassured me that it was a non-issue. It was all my baggage. It bothered me so much that I finally bought a book about going from a career to stay at home mom called “This Is Not How I Thought It Would Be.” Indeed. The funny thing was I just couldn’t read the book. The author was this high powered career woman turned stay at home mom who nearly destroyed her marriage over jealousy of her attorney husband who began working more to support them financially. She resented having to stay home, losing her career, while her husband was out there advancing his. She did, however, bring up some good points like Social Security. When women stop working to stay home and raise children, their social security earnings goes out the window, leaving them worse off in their retirement age, becoming even more dependent on their men and their retirement. That sucks.
For the most part I just didn’t feel the same way she did. I love teaching but I love Jackson more. I didn’t necessarily miss my career as much as I just needed to feel like I was contributing. But I was contributing. I was taking care of my son while cleaning the house, washing and folding numerous loads of laundry, doing dishes, cooking, paying bills, running errands, making appointments, and on and on. Trust me, after spending most of my life working I can honestly say being a stay at home mom is the hardest job I have ever had. The problem is society doesn’t see it that way. There’s this misconception that we stay at home moms are watching soap operas all day while sitting on the couch eating Bonbons. Being a stay at home mom isn’t a “real” job right? I would beg to differ. If being a stay at home mom was a salaried position, I would be making $134,121 per year according to salary.com. I’ve never made that kind of money! I suppose if we did get a salary then being a stay at home mom would be looked at as a valuable position in society.
So what’s the point to this posting? I don’t know. It’s late I am just rambling. I guess I just feel like I have changed my feminist thoughts. Yes, women can have it all. But some of us don’t want it all. Maybe we just want to stay home with our babies and be there for every little milestone they make instead of hearing about it from someone else. Perhaps some of us want to continue the careers we worked so hard to achieve and despite loving our children passionately we need that career because it makes us the women and mothers we are. Or it could be that we want to stay home but just need a little break from mommyhood once or twice a week to feel like we are members of our society. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I think we all have to do what is best for us individually and for our families.
The Supernanny mom ended us signing up for some college classes. Just signing up for those classes made her light up. She was finally doing something for herself. While she was a mom, she was also a smart, independent woman who just needed a reminder that there was life outside the home and she could be part of it. To her I say “You go Momma.” And to all you moms out there, whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom, I say “May the force be with you!”