I have always wanted to have children. When I was a teenager I thought I would have 6 (go ahead, laugh), then in my 20’s I revised my number to 4 upon meeting my would be husband. He was from a 1 sibling system and also I couldn’t figure out a timeline that would include 6 children unless I wanted to have kids well into my 40’s or go on Clomid recreationally. I have now revised my number to 2. Don’t need to get into why in this post. I expected some difficulties with child rearing: finances, opinions from different people, general difficulties, food choices, schools. What I never expected was that my own sex would turn on me. I never knew I’d have to defend wanting kids and really never thought I’d have to defend my decision to ‘return to work full time ‘ or ‘stay home’. I just thought everyone would respect whatever I did and know that there are MULTITUDES of reasons why I would choose one over the other. I didn’t just think briefly about my choice. I hemmed and hawed, looked at all the options and this was the one that fit the best.
I know single ladies and married ladies without kids get just as much grief as SAHMoms and working moms receive just in different angles. I even struggle with some rude thoughts myself about people who don’t choose MY life. It’s awful but true. It’s almost like my ego requires me to think that MY LIFE is the best (being aware of that is important).
My problem is, I should never read ANY articles or books or essays about moms. They are always too insulting (I allow myself to be insulted). Before I get to that, let’s talk about my mom guilt. I have guilt about a variety of things. I also have general rage about some things. It MAY be hard to distinguish between the two.
1. Maybe I’m not engaging Penelope enough. Maybe she’d be more socially developed if she were in a daycare setting. Maybe she’d be happier? Maybe she doesn’t see other children enough.
2. Maybe I am WASTING my Master’s degree. Maybe I’m doing women a disservice by using my intelligence to engage Penelope. Maybe I should be using my degree for which I spent $$ and time and childbearing years to help the world. Maybe I should be contributing in a real tangible way (although, when I think about it, I didn’t always feel FULFILLED in my work or like I was contributing…hmmm). Whoa. 1 &2 just became strangely intertwined and confusing.
3. Maybe I’m not a good enough SAHM/WAHM. Since I’m not working full time in an office with a pencil skirt, shouldn’t my house be spotless? My child’s clothing pressed, my husband’s lunches made, my bed neatly assembled. Shouldn’t I be working out daily? Shouldn’t I have a BMI of 22? Shouldn’t I have great hair and feed my child only organic food and never call her names? I mean hell, it’s my JOB.
4. Oh but that other ‘job thing’. I do have a job. A “REAL” one with a paycheck. I do it at night, which is why every other week I say no to every social outing that my social self would love to rather say ‘yes’ to. I feel bad when I have to leave the living room to work and leave Penelope. Yes that’s right, being with her alone from 9-5 (when Aaron is working) isn’t enough. I feel that I must also be with her until she goes to bed. When I have to work, I feel guilty, like I’m depriving her of attention. SICK.
Okay, that’s enough mom guilt/rage. I think if I told you the rest, I might scare you.
There is a sick rivalry between SAHM and Work at Home Moms. Actually, I think there is just a sick rivalry between women. It’s gross. When I read articles about motherhood, I’m left feeling icky; partially because I don’t fit into one category very cleanly and partially because I don’t want to and another part because I feel sad. Just sad.
Now for a list of insulting statements:
“Most mothers have jobs because they need or want the money and fulfillment; only in rare cases are they driven by glory. To be a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and most of the housewives I have ever met — none of whom do anything around the house — live in New York City and Los Angeles, far from Peoria. Only in these major metropolises are there the kinds of jobs in finance and entertainment that allow for a family to live luxe on a single income. In any case, having forgotten everything but the lotus position, these women are the reason their husbands think all women are dumb, and I don’t blame them.” From this article by Elizabeth Wurtzel on the Huffington Post.
I used to feel enlightened by Elizabeth Wurtzel. I read her book Prozac Nation in high school for extra credit. It gave me great insight into mental illness. She writes in a lovely way. Even though her article linked above isn’t an attack on me really, it makes me feel sick. The article is filled with assumptions and anger and scathing comments about the ‘1% wives’. Laced in are comments about stay at home moms ruining feminism for all women. Being a SAHM mom could be considered a privilege and I think it is most often looked at that way, especially by men. Calling it a privilege, however, is insulting. It tells me you think I’m not good enough, that I don’t work hard. That I ‘take it easy’.
Then this article, “What not to say to SAHMoms” and this article, “What not to Say to Working Moms”. Neither article is really insulting to me, it is just insulting that people actually say these things. The ones most insulting are based on ‘affording’ to stay at home, like that’s anyone’s business. Somehow that’s acceptable!? People make decisions based on their situation, end of story! Sometimes it feels like you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Mostly, in my situation I can get along with both sides. The religious SAHM crew is satisfied with me since I ‘stay at home’ even when I’m working and the Working Moms might not hate me because I do work (well sort of, I don’t really fit in there since I don’t have to miss my kid). And no, I’m not rolling in the dough. I can’t afford to stay home… I can’t not afford to stay home. It’s a cost- benefit analysis that has been done over and over in my head. It’s about timing and family and friends and lifestyle. I know I’m LUCKY in some people’s eyes. I get to work at home, I get to be with my child and that’s all fun and balloons and butterflies and dancing teddy bears. I’m just sick of the rivalry constantly with women. I’m not making sense anymore. End of rant. Now I can go about my day feeling less insulted.
Oh yesterday, I made Philly Cheesesteaks. They were good. I’ll blog about that another day.
– Yours Truly-