Embarrassed to be a stay-at-home-mom?? Yeah, me-f'ing-too
The other day I met another woman who has three kids and runs a business, ostensibly out of her home, but also away from it a large portion of the week. Her kids are in a daycare or school, I'm not sure which, but the point is they're still small(ish), not teenagers. When she found out I was a SAHM she very emphatically said, "I could never do that."
Now, this has happened many times over the last 2 and a half years. Me, a stay-at-home-mother, rubs elbows with a working mother, and it's like we're lions and tigers: the same genus, but not compatible somehow. I don't totally get how they "do it" and vice versa. But I also feel ashamed for not feeling the same way about motherhood and my life as they do. I'm not a fulfilled adult. I am just a mommy.
I want to make it very clear: This other woman was wholly NOT judgmental. This is about me and my reaction to a working mother. I felt like a country mouse next to a chic, city mouse. Working moms, to me, are seasoned, well-balanced, intelligent, sexy, hard-working, and stimulated. They are go-getters. They are powerful and strong. They are amazing.
I see women out and about sans children and I'm jealous of their freedom and choices. I'm sure they see me with mine and wish they were with their little ones all day long fielding tantrums and kissing boo boos. It's fucking nuts.
I'm curious as to why I'm still hesitant to admit that, despite all its drawbacks, I really, really love my job as a mother.
Of course, the biggest con of being a SAHM is the isolation and lack of adult stimulation we often - nay - almost always find ourselves in. It's stifling, really. But other than that, it's a pretty bad ass gig.
And so, to seem cool to this other (working) mother I sort of scoffed at myself and said that I wasn't loving the SAHM thing so much right now and I was definitely trying to get out of the house, too. To find some part-time work so I could stay happy as an adult, and, in effect, throwing my entire happy little life under the proverbial bus so I wouldn't seem simple to my new city mouse friend. That was my goal in telling her that I was looking for work: that I really couldn't "do it," either. That I was just like her.
Who the fuck am I, anyway?? Do I not know myself?? I'm a smart, educated woman who is damned lucky enough to not be required to work and who can apply 100% of herself to tasks at hand. I'm good at being a mother. It comes naturally to me, and yet here I was playing it off like I couldn't wait to get out of my life.
The truth is, as you all know from my bitching and moaning the past several months, I do want to get the duck outta fodge a lot of the time, but that's just because my life needs more seasoning. The basic recipe can stay the same, I just need a bit more coriander to fill out the flavors, or maybe a little nutmeg, or some cumin. You get my point. Some pep.
So besides feeling like a country mouse and uncool in the powerful shadow of a working mother, I also felt suddenly like a traitor to my sisters the spectrum-over. Not just mothers, but all women who fight to be heard and respected and seen in whatever it is they do. I had just fed into the notion that women doing traditionally female things aren't as sophisticated or "sexy" as those who do traditionally male activities.
I have nothing to be embarrassed about except my shitty ass attitude and I need to work on it.
Everyone, including myself!, gives being a SAHM incredible lip service: it's the hardest, most important, most rewarding, most crucial job in the world, but I still don't feel it when I walk out my door. Am I just not seeing it? Or does it really not exist out there beyond my doorstep? Do other people really think of me as trite or is that my internal voice after a lifetime of being told that you are more important/special/intelligent/worthwhile the higher up the ladder you are? the more money you make? the more you're in charge of? that staying home with children is boring and mind-numbing?
(If you have 15 minutes to burn, read this inflammatory NY Magazine article from almost two years ago. I think it pretty much proves I'm not making this shit up.)
I feel like I'm shrouded in bullshit. I can see through it, there are gaps and holes where I can see clearly, but I'm still struggling under a male-dominated view of what a successful, meaningful life looks like. It just surprises me, that's all. I'm sick that I continue to feel embarrassed about my choice to stay home when really, I should be feeling like a goddamned goddess.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. What have your experiences been like when approaching your life in comparison to others'??