Sunday, March 1, 2009

When I grow up Part 2

Ok, wow. What a spirited comment from my good friend Beth in regards to my last post. Out of everything she knows about me (and she knows EVERYTHING) this post shocked her. SHOCKED with capital letters even. And trust me when I tell you, there are a few other things that she knows about me that I would have thought she would find slightly more shocking.

So in light of that, yes, let me clarify. In Junior High, when asked, I wanted to be a stay at home mom. In High School I hated all those personality test things that were supposed to tell us our perfect career, because I wanted to be a mom. When I went to College, I took child development courses because they would help me to be a better mom. In freshman English I got a D on an essay I wrote on gender issues because the feminist teacher didn't like my stance on stay at home parents.

Basically I wrote a paper stating that I felt the decline of our society was caused by the lack of parental supervision at home. That I felt that in most cases most families could get by on just one income so that one parent (I didn't specify which one, because I don't think it has to be the mom) could stay home, but it would mean not having matching Beemers in the driveway of their McMansion. Seriously, how many hours a week do you think parents are working a week to afford that kind of shit? And meanwhile their neglected kids were building bombs in the garage or wreak other havoc in their neighborhoods. So I feel that if you are willing to forgo the Beemer and the big house to stay home with your kids, our world will be a better place. I sure as shit know that if my kids built so much as a pup tent in my garage I would know about it. And if they were having trouble making friends and acting odd, I'd take them to a freaking therapist, every day if necessary, until they were well adjusted.

But I guess I'm drifting a little off topic. By now you get Beth's point. You understand why her world got turned on it's head when I said that I feel that something is missing.

Here's the thing. Being a stay at home mom is still looked down upon. Even though there are websites like this momsalarywizard that tells me that the work I do for my family is worth $124, 628 a year (that's more than my husband makes, hehe). Like I said in the last post, my husband gets it. He didn't always. When I was pregnant with our first and said I wanted to stay home with her he said "Until she goes to preschool right?" Of course by the time she went to preschool I had another baby at home and the same with my third. Over the years I have had a chance to impress upon him the fact that it isn't just when they are small that they need parental supervision and guidance. I think all it really took was asking him if he really wanted our kids to be doing the things he was doing as a teenager while his parents were at work. So when our youngest went off to Kindergarten, he was in no big hurry for me to re-join the workforce. Although he humors me when I talk about a career, he's just as happy if I stay home. He really thinks that the part time arrangement I have right now is perfect. I work only while the kids are in school, and even though I don't make a lot of money, it gives me a little spending cash and lets me get out of the house and talk to some grown ups. He realizes now the importance of me being home when the kids get home from school. The fact that he has a pathological fear of school busses helps too.

I think it boils down to how you define success. I look at some of the people I went to high school with and they have become doctors and lawyers. No doubt people would say that they are successful. People look up to them for the fortitude they had to endure all those years of schooling to earn those degrees. I feel that my status as a stay at home mom isn't as prestigious. For some reason I'm embarrassed to say that I'm JUST a mom, and I feel the need to find some kind of career that will earn me the respect that the doctors and lawyers are getting, but at the same time I wouldn't be willing to sacrifice the time I have with my kids to have a career like that. Not for all the money in the world. Certainly not for a Beemer and a McMansion. So maybe what I should be looking for is not which career I should choose, but how to be proud of the career I CHOSE. Maybe I should stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, and listen to my good friends who know how successful I am. Thanks Beth.


just beth said...

Ohmygod, Lorna. This post? This post MADE ME CRY. :-) Honestly.

You SHOULD be proud of the amazing job you're doing. I know that I've been doing this stay-at-home thing for a lot shorter time period than you have, so maybe I'm still in some kind of 'honeymoon' phase, but I think people totally get that this job, this CAREER path of ours is really amazing and difficult and deserving of total respect.

And you know what? You know what really made me cry? Its that you got me... you got what I was trying to say, what I meant, and that, my friend, is a true gift.

love you loads,


Monica said...

I agree with you totally and lets just face it being a stay at home mom is one of the hardest jobs on the planet , not to mention how under paid we!
I thank my lucky stars that we are fortunate enough to be able to stay home
they need there mommies :)

Sara said...

When I was struggling with the decision to stay home or continue working a friend of mine told me that I would never have regrets about NOT having the Mcmansion or the beemer, but I would regret having them at the cost of not being with my babies. That was the day I filled out my paperwork to stay home. Thanks for stopping by my blog today! I'm curious how you found me.

Anti-Supermom said...

This is such a great, great post. being a child care provider, I've made a career out of rearing children and your are so right, it is so often looked down by many, many people.

Success, of current, is defined by my children's. Someday, that will not be the case, but perhaps not...

Again, great post - thanks for the visit.