It’s only been recently that I’ve fully embraced my role as full time mom, stay at home mom (SAHM- a new acronym I learned recently), house manager or whatever you want to call it. So far, I’ve managed to make one acquaintance slightly uncomfortable with my new proclamation. Nice man says, “So! Your husband works downtown, and youuuu…” I point to my daughter, who is up to no good. “That’s my boss. I’m home with her.”
There. I said it. It was the first time I said it out loud to someone I didn’t really know. It was weird, I was nervous. Not helping my anxiety were my thoughts immediately following my statement: As if all I do is stay home. Yes, damn it, I’m a stay at home mom. She wakes up and then we sit on the couch and read or play with her blocks all damn day long. We don’t leave the apartment. No air. No wind in the hair or rain on the face. No friends. She will be a Flowers in the Attic child.
Apart from the blank stare and awkward silence, the nice man started stuttering and stammering incoherently. When he pulled himself together, he expanded upon the importance of motherhood and stay at home moms. What a hard job it is, he said, and he absolutely, in no way meant to insult me. Was I insulted? I thought I was too preoccupied with my own anxiety to register that he might have been insulting me. However, I did feel annoyed by his response.
I wonder if that awkward response from the nice man represents a larger social un-acceptance of full time moms. It must play a part in my own awkwardness of coming to terms with my role otherwise I wouldn’t have really noticed his reaction (or cared). This bothers me because we can’t live our lives in the shadow of anyone’s expectations. I’ve spent many years re-wiring myself off of that grid. Perpetual work.
That said, since my new role as SAHM began a mere nine months ago, I have always needed to have something else going on. It was important for me to be ‘working’ on something else- a new writing strategy, a new project, researching a new career, investigating getting back into an old career (dumb idea, by the way). My thought process reflected the idea that taking care of my daughter full time was only going to be temporary and it would be easy to slide back into some other money making career, where my ‘happiness’ would be about a five on a scale of ten, but I would make it work anyway. I should have a career, that was ME. That was how the world saw me. I was hard, fast and sharp. I was the person who always worked, made money, and made shit happen. It wasn’t my role to coo at a baby, to be patient and loving. That’s not who I was perceived to be. That’s not how I perceived myself to be. It wasn’t who I was expected to be.
My insecurity also confounds me since all of the full time moms I personally know, I respect and admire all of them (ok, maybe minus one or two) – and working moms, too. So why would I feel awkward about my role as a SAHM? We all just do what we need to do, right? I mean who cares, really. I have one child now and a second one arriving this summer. I have no idea how I’m going to handle it. I can’t imagine how people do it with 2, 3, 4 or more kids. I marvel at how organized, patient, resourceful and gentle my SAHM friends are in the midst of whines and cries and tantrums and poop and snot. No way, I used to think. No way would I be able to handle that.
Thankfully, I am awakening. I can be whoever I want to be, whenever I want to be it and it doesn’t matter if it makes other people uncomfortable. I embrace my role as mom to a truly amazing and beautiful little human being who has taught me more in 9 months than any other job I’ve ever had. There is no looking back and that is an exciting prospect. I’m still a free woman, I think my own thoughts and speak my own words. The life I have NOW is part of the bigger plan I have yet to discover. I am summoning the chutzpah to step into the life I have, to be fully present, and to keep moving toward the next adventure, obstacle, phase, and chapter of living.
“You have done what you could—some blunders and absurdities have crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.“
-Ralph Waldo Emerson