I find this title fits me best because being a mother is something I commit myself to working hard at every day - and right now for me during these young child raising years, that's ALL day! Yes, there are bits of school (my oldest is a half-day kindergartner) and extracurricular classes that our children attend, but for the majority of the day and early evening they're with me (right down to their little fingers squeezed under the bathroom door!) and the majority of what I do during the day involves something for them or with them such as running our own at-home preschool, planning and taking part in play dates, parties, and various outings, taking them to their various classes and dr. appts, working at my son's school (for free), and volunteering within our community....tired yet?
After recently watching the movies I Don't Know How She Does It (2012) and The Intern (2015) I found myself disappointed with how they chose to represent stay-at-home moms. For those of you who haven't seen either of these, they showed them working out at the gym all day, making perfect homemade treats, and waiting around their children's school being all judgmental towards working moms. I find all of these representations of stay-at-home mothers SO FALSE. In fact, I've yet to meet any stay-at-home mom who cares at all whether another mother decides to work or not!
There were some very endearing parenting parts by Sarah Jessica Parker's character (Kate) in the movie I Don't Know How She Does It, like when she's telling a new first time mom how wonderful being a mother is and you'll wonder why no one ever told you it's that wonderful but it's contradicted by the amount of the time she's constantly working and away from her family. Other parts try for a closer view of her conflicted feelings regarding her job and motherhood demands, but simply involve her making a childish sorry face towards her husband or making more lists for herself while she internalizes things she's missing out on with her children. At one point in the movie Kate says that her without her job isn't her but her without her husband and children is nothing.
I remember the vulnerability I felt when I first learned we were pregnant with our first child...I was unbelievably happy but also unexpectedly had this image of myself no longer being able to walk around feeling all powerful and successful in my business-y clothes (at that point I'd been working full-time for the past 6 years). It took me by surprise that I felt this way as I had always pictured myself being a mother, but over the next 9 months I had a lot more time to really think about these thoughts and feelings and realized that what I'd be giving up wasn't all that great compared to what I was about to experience with bringing a new life into the world. Still, I held on and told everyone at my current job that I was going to make my official decision about staying or leaving my job after the baby was born. Honestly, as cheesy as this sounds- the decision for me to stay at home with our child was a crystal clear YES! the second I held our baby. I knew in my heart there was no place I could ever be at that time that would feel as good or be as important and it truly has been one of the best decisions we've ever made. I say all the time that I need my baby during their first year of life as much as they need me and to this day, I still feel a deep bond with each of our children and know a lot of that came from their early developmental years that we shared in together. I wish the media did a better job of showing that as well as the moms who like my mom, returned back to work AFTER raising her 3 children!
I caught this book In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms by Dr. Laura Shlessinger at the library the other day and while it has drawn some criticisms, it was the encouragement I needed to hear as I continue to forgo my career for our family....
"They number in the millions and they are incredibly important to families and to our society, yet they are under-appreciated, little respected, and even controversial. Who are they? They are the stay-at-home moms.
These are women who know in their hearts that staying home to raise their children is the right choice for the whole family. Whether they do it from the outset of their marriages or make the difficult transition from career-driven women to homemakers, it is a choice that is incredibly rich and rewarding, not to mention challenging. Building on principles developed during her long career as a licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Laura provides a wealth of advice and encouragement to women as they navigate the wonders and struggles of being stay-at-home moms."
I never knew becoming a mother would require me to figure out a new me, but it's been a very worthwhile and satisfying journey~ one that I'm extremely thankful and proud to take on each day regardless of the stereotypes and misconceptions.