Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mommy Wars (Give Peace a Chance)

This is my response to Salon's review/interview re: the new book, "The Ten Year Nap" about stay-at-home moms. Here's the link to the story:
And my response:

If someone gave you the chance to live a six or so year adventure where you’d get to live your life’s dream and go to exotic places and grow like crazy, but you had to leave your present job and take the opportunity right away because the chance wasn’t going to come again, wouldn’t you take it?

That’s what motherhood is for me. I always dreamed of being a mother. Mothering has taken me places I’ve never dreamed of. I’ve grown into a woman and it has changed me for the better in every way.

Wolitzer makes some smug cracks about the lives of stay-at-home moms. I must ask: since when is caring for someone not an “intelligent” or "purposeful" act?

It takes incredible intelligence to be a parent. And the areas in which you are not intelligent, shine through straight away, let me tell you.
Our society measures success based on the amount of your paycheck. The higher the paycheck, the more important the job. And since mothering doesn’t pay, well, you know what that means.
No respect.
Mothers aren’t "going" anywhere. We’re not really "doing" anything.
Well, I don’t give a damn what society has to say. Mothering actually gives you a wonderful excuse (read: opportunity) to opt out of society’s standards and processes.
I don’t care about moving forward. I don’t care if I’m “losing ground.” I challenge myself with boredom and tediousness. I push myself with the day by day. Like a monk, I sweep and cook and wipe butts and kiss boo-boos…and five minutes later I do it all over again.
I live a life of passion and intelligence. I’ve learned when to laugh and when to cry, when to empathize and when to discipline, when to give in and when to stand firm. I’ve learned negotiation skills that they should apply in the Middle East.

My everyday is lived with instinct, compassion, awareness, joy and heartbreak. Some days I recognize the freedom of my choice; some days I’m face to face with its limitations. No different really than any job. Except you get no respect. Just a Hallmark holiday and Orpah’s applause.
So please know, that just because I hang out with toddlers doesn’t mean I am a toddler.
I’m busy. I serve others. I’m a good citizen. I volunteer. I teach yoga. I help my friends. I accept their help in return. I write. I blog. I take photos. I try out new recipes. I garden. I talk to my neighbors. I recycle. I juggle the bills. I clean house, load the dishwasher, clean the litter box and do the laundry.
I dream.
Motherhood is my passion. One of many.
I’m passionate about living this short time in sync with my kids, walking in step with them on our journey. It will not, does not, last long. I have a seven year old and a two year old and already their babydom is a blip on the radar.
Now that’s heartbreak.
I’m not a corporate lawyer but I don’t need to have a high-powered job and an expense account and carry a briefcase to measure my intelligence.
God, no.
Patience is intelligent. Empathy is intelligent. Being in your highest self, holding space for your kids’ emotions and keeping a ten-point to-do list in your head at all times is intelligent. Just installing a car seat takes both an enormously high i.q. and the diligence of Thomas Edison. I’m in awe of my friend JH who instinctually can work her way around every car seat made by man and she has yet to get her degree in engineering…
But then mamas learn the best doing. Trial by fire.
There are no degrees needed. No institutions of higher learning. You have nine months and however long your labor is to figure it out. Welcome to the rest of your life!

So don’t question my intelligence. Don’t question my passion. I am no dumb bunny. The days are long but the years are short. I know my time with my kids is limited. They will some day not be interested in coloring with me. They will some day not be interested in making cookies with me. They will some day not be begging me to attend their assemblies or assuming I know where their superhero cape is or looking to me to nurse them, bathe them and read them a bed time story.
I believe in nursing my babies.
I believe in sleeping with them.
I believe it makes a difference who reads that bed time story.
I believe it should be me.
I want it to be me.
I believe I make a difference.

Yes, caring for young children can be mind numbing, but all jobs can be mind numbing. And I’ve had other jobs. Lots of them. None as flat-out rewarding.

I don’t need to defend myself or my life. I know I’ve made the right choice for my kids and myself. Other people make many different kinds of decisions that work for them and their families and I respect that. We’re not the same. We’re different. Different things make us happy. Thank God.

So, for now, I love my job. And it is a job. A career, even. One I’ll never, ever regret.
No matter the other dreams I will chase in my life, being a mother has been an honor and a privilege and I’m a better person for it. Leaving my film "career" (har, it was) for a full-time job as mom made some people in my life scratch their heads. To those people, I just quoted my Dad:
"If it begins and ends with love, it's okay with me."


Anonymous said...

no pun intended.
this is lovely and necessary and inspiring, my friend. you speak for you and you speak for me and i thank you for speaking our truth.
endless love to you, mama friend.

Anonymous said...

You are awesome my friend. Well said. You have a gift!! Thanks for sharing it with us. You should send this post to I love you my friend. xoxo JH

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. But even better, true. All that other rot is a scam and a lie and everyone living it knows.

Anonymous said...

Well done. That post should be copied and inserted into every resume/application that stay-at-home moms fill out when they go back to the "work force." And that's another post entirely: the pressure to return to the work force once the kids are finally in school. As if a child turning 6 now qualifies them for the "no mommy at home" club. My kids need me, and I planning on staying with them until the end.