Monday, May 23, 2011

If she had only known what I heard her say...

© Coastal Photo Design, used with permission.
I swear that I don't mean to make Mondays a day to complain.  But I had to write about a comment my daughter made last night.

She off handedly told me at dinner that she and her best friend both wanted to be teachers.  They talked about it, though, and decided that it involved too much training.  So they decided that they were going to "just be moms."

They're seven.

I was speechless.  My husband made eye contact with me and said, "This one's all yours."

My initial reaction was to the tone of "just be moms."  What she said as a little girl, I heard as an adult woman.  What I heard is that being "just a mom" is the easy way out.  I could hear in those three words all the cultural biases against stay at home moms.  That we've got it easy.  That we don't have to work hard.  That maybe, if we pursued an education and career prior to having children, that we've taken a step back and given up.

In some sense, I can also hear the conversations I have had with friends lately.  That we've sort of lost ourselves over the years of staying home with our kids.  That we've forgotten what it is that we like to do.  That, in putting everyone else's needs first, we always come last.  And sometimes we don't get around to focusing on ourselves at all.

I will be the first to admit that I find it very challenging to be home with my young children.  I have had to learn more about patience and selflessness than I ever thought I'd have to.  I have learned that my actions will have long lasting effects on someone else.  There hasn't been one day that parenting has come easy.

So it crushed my heart a little to hear that I'm "just a mom."  Maybe it was a compliment.  Maybe I make it look easy.  But I don't think that's what she meant.  And I certainly don't think she meant any harm by what she said.  But I don't want her to think that moms are settling, choosing to be moms because their other options are more difficult and challenging.  I don't need a medal for being a parent, but it's nice to know that the work I do has value, even if no one is paying me.

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