The latest video episode at momversation, Why Isn’t Just Being a Mom Enough? talks about the labels we assign ourselves and the way people look at those labels. The whole “war” between working moms and stay at home moms is well known. Some of us envy the other side, even when we enjoy the few perks of our choices – we can’t help but see the lusher, greener grass surrounding the mothers who chose Choice B. Some of us passionately believe in the choices we’ve made and like a momma bear, we’ll defend that choice to the end. Some of us had no choice and will either be content with that or longingly wish to try the other side someday. But all of us should try to support each other more – because whether we work a 9 to 5, go to school, or stay home with our kids – we are all faced with a myriad of obstacles, stressors and als0 – fringe benefits.
I started working at the tender age of fourteen and although I just barely worked after college, I’ve seen enough of the workforce in the nine years or so that I did work, to know that it is not any better for me than staying home with my son. I have workaholic tendencies which I think would have been a big concern trying to balance the two aspects of a working mother’s life. And having grown up the child of a single father, I have a few reminders from my own childhood of the advantages that being a stay at home mom will bring my own children. I never got to do the girl scouts thing or even join any extracurriculars until I got my license. There was not always somebody home to ask how my day was, if I did my homework and to make sure I stayed out of trouble. And sure I turned out okay, but I want something more than that for my own children and also to experience those things myself. And I can afford to give them that – so why would I opt out?
And you know sometimes it gets mundane. Sometimes I shut down and we don’t go out as much as we should and I get bored of playing trucks and blocks and watching PBS shows – but that’s where you say, “It’s time to find the balance.” All lives need balance – and nobody should consider themselves just a anything, in my opinion. Society likes to define people by what they do and what their interests are but is anybody really so one dimensional that this can be 100% accurate. Is anybody out there just a secretary? Would my husband happily consider himself just an engineer – or even just a father and engineer, like has no other interests outside those two things? No – we are all more than that. We have hobbies and family lives, children or no, interests that extend past our occupation or family status.We need those other things to maintain a well balanced life.
Of course when people ask you what you do at a party or other social gathering, admittedly I think the working mothers of the world have an easier time of it – more things to mention means more chances to connect with the asker and find a common thread. We SAHMs can mention motherhood and we’ll either be given the “how lucky” or the blank stare or whathaveyou – and even though we have other interests that they might connect with, it’s not an easy thing to find in that all encompassing generic question. And how do you choose the one thing? Are you interested in politics or religion or writing or gardening? Maybe all of those things – but which one do you mention because they certainly won’t want a list as long as what you might put on your Facebook profile. Having a career on top of whatever else you are doing gives you an obvious go to – you’ve made a career out of this thing, thus it is given precedence. And you know, whatever – hopefully a few people will feel the need to chat you up longer than three seconds to figure out what you are about and the ones who don’t, well clearly it’s their loss. I think the biggest concern is not how others see us but how we see ourselves. It’s a way bigger deal if you consider yourself just a…
Sometimes, especially in the baby days, being a stay at home mom can feel like just a – just a poop cleaning, baby feeding, house cleaning, sleep deprived zombie. Sometimes our family lives get so hectic and all consuming that the idea of pursuing a hobby is laughable. Sometimes a career woman might feel so consumed in her job that she eats, sleeps and dreams floor plans or profit margins or some other thing and you sometimes have to step back and say, “What else did I honestly think about today?” It’s easy to get consumed in the things we are passionate about. That’s okay. Because it’s not permanent and we aren’t really just those things – they are just what we are focusing on for the sake of our survival and that of our families. Because at some point, life changes and new things will take precedence. Being the stay at home mother of a baby is nothing like being the stay at home mother of a toddler – and I’m guessing that the same will be true when I am the stay at home mother of multiples and as they get older and what about when they leave the nest? Will I never pursue a career? I don’t know. There are certainly jobs I would enjoy trying someday, later. And if our financial situation changed, I’d have to roll with those punches.
What hats you wear in your life and how you feel about those hats is an important thing to think about. Are you happy with the choices you’ve made? That can make a big difference in how you see other people seeing you and how much joy you can bring to your daily tasks. So, yes, make sure you are supporting all the other wonderful women in your lives (and the men, too!) but also make sure you are supporting yourself. Like Cynthia comments at the end of the video, own yourself and own what you do.