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Year 10

September 11, 2008

My 10-year high school reunion is at the end of the month.

I will not be attending.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the reunion is out of town. Second, I will be out of town in an entirely different part of the country that weekend. I already keep in touch with many of my closest high school friends. Reunions cost money. I’d probably have to buy a dress, which equals spending more money.

But if I’m being honest, the main reason I have decided to bow out of my reunion is because I am self-conscious about what I do all day.

When tell people who have yet to reproduce (as is the case with many of my classmates) that I am a stay-at-home mom and do in-home daycare, the response is a blank, “oh. That’s nice.” Then they immediately start looking around the room for someone more interesting to talk to.

If, on the other hand, I happen to meet up with a parent, we spend all night talking about diapers and breastfeeding. Which is lovely, to a point, but sometimes I’d like to be able to broaden the small-talk beyond babies.

So when I’m in a mixed group, I often try to dodge the question of “what do you do?” I smile and say, “a little of this, and a little of that,” or “I’m an artist. I have a mural-painting business,” which is technically true, except the business is currently more like a hobby that occasionally pays for itself. I am working, just not much.

And it shames me that I feel bad about staying home. It is a privilege that I am blessed to have, and it is a job I love. I laugh to the point of tears almost every day. Last night I was in stitches after Tom carried his training potty from the downstairs bathroom to the upstairs bathroom. He wanted to use it as a stool for brushing his teeth. The only problem was it was full of pee. He did a great job not spilling until he got to the top of our carpeted staircase, when I heard, “Uh oh, there’s pee everywhere!” And there was.

Or the time that Seth was force-feeding me french-fries, and saying “yummm,” afterwords, just like I do to him when I force him to eat his dinner. Really, you don’t get that kind of comedy in the world of the cubicled.

I rarely wake up wishing I could quit; by contrast, when I was working full-time as a reporter, I used my commute to make lists of all the jobs I would rather be doing that day. One morning I counted over-the-road trucking and working at McDonald’s as preferable to going to the office and facing my editor.

I just wish I could embrace motherhood as fully and as beautifully as some. Suzanne, from Blessed Among Men, (a gorgeous blog that you should have in your feed!) recently said this about her vocation as a stay at home mom:

I live a life of privilege. It’s true. Some people in my neighborhood here think I’m a “trooper” for having all these children and educating them at home. I smile when I hear this.

Others I know consider the trials of my life more than any self respecting woman should have to bear. Others still think I’m just crazy. Whatever anyone thinks, I know that to devote myself to working exclusively in my home and serving my family is a Christian right and a privilege. I answer to no one, but to a husband who has vowed to love me with his very life and to a God who died to save me from my sin.

I am a truly liberated woman.

I work for nobody but for those who return my love and for a God who cannot be outdone in generosity. I am paid one hundred fold for the work I do here whether that work be the pains of pregnancy, the labor of keeping house, or the struggles of educating many small children. I am rewarded with a life of abundant blessing and joy, joy, joy like I’d never known amidst the normal trials expected for one trying to work out her salvation in fear and trembling.

Suzanne’s points are valid, and I hope to someday be able to honestly believe them about my own life. Maybe I’ll get there in time for my 20th reuion. Maybe.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2008 4:40 pm

    Are you sure we aren’t twin sisters switched at birth? I didn’t go to my 10 year reunion this summer either, but that was actually just because no one from my high school bothered to plan one! But I know exactly what you mean about not being super-comfortable telling people what you do. I usually tell people I’m a freelance writer, which is technically true, even though I’m about 90/10 as far as how much of my time goes to mommying and how much of it goes to writing for publication. But I just have a hard time saying “I’m a stay at home mom.”

    And yet I’m with you that even on the hard days, I wish for help or for a break, but I never wish I could quit. Whereas I remember those commutes in my reporter days when I cried most of the way home, I was so sick of my job. I try to remind myself of that when I get frustrated with my kids.

    The quote from Blessed Among Men does a wonderful job describing the pluses about full-time parenting–you answer only to your spouse and your God, and that is so much nicer than having some outside figure (whom you don’t always agree with) telling you what to spend your time on. Being in charge of your own days is a wonderful benefit. I don’t ever want to go back to an office job. I’m hoping when the kids are a little older to make it into more of a full-time thing than it is now.

    Staying at home with the kids is a privilege indeed, and I too hope that I can reflect that attitude more in my own life.

  2. Sarah permalink
    September 14, 2008 3:40 pm

    Well, I think it just goes to show that we women are screwed!

    Ok, now that was just me being a bit over the top. But I tell ya, so often we we are all sitting around chatting at playgroup, I feel completely self-conscious when anything besides mommying comes up. I can’t say for sure what the self-consciousness is really about there. I can tell you definitively what it is NOT: It’s NOT being ashamed of being at work and not staying home, and it’s NOT feeling like having a job is somehow above being a full-time mom. Still, it’s there nonetheless.

    My point above about us being screwed is this–in my numerous observations of full-time moms and working moms, it seems to me that we spend a lot more time thinking about what we should and should not be doing with our lives than the men in the same positions as us do. My hubby does not appear to analyze whether being a full-time dad is a job that he should do or whether it should be valued more than it is (although I think along with most moms, he would agree that it should). The men I know who are at work with small children at home, even when they are the kind of men who rush home to spend lots of time with their kids, or even rush home specifically to give mom a break from her childcare job, don’t seem to analyze whether they are doing what they should be doing.

    While I don’t honestly think that we’re screwed, I do think that somehow the evolution of our civilization has connived to make us hypersensitive about whatever it is that we do, once we are moms and face that ultimate decision about where and how to spend the bulk of our days.

    Of course… it doesn’t help when we happen to be highly intelligent moms who are prone to overanalysis anyway, does it?

  3. Gina permalink
    September 18, 2008 10:00 am

    Hey! Your site is perty. I’m sorry you get that “oh. That’s nice.” crapola from folks. I haven’t gotten that so far, although I’m new at SAHMing it. Maybe if people start bugging me I’ll say, “I wipe shit for a living,” just stop people in their tracks. I’ll let you know if that elicits a different response. But, like Sarah posted above, I feel like I’ve heard/read both SAH and work-outside-the-home (WOTH?) moms say they feel bad, too, which is unfortunate.

  4. November 30, 2008 5:32 pm

    I’ve been a SAHM a few times, and I choose to work due to finances etc. Neither is better than the other period. SAHM has pros/cons, Working outside the home has its pros/cons. Be happy that you are able to stay at home with your children. And Kudos to you for being able to have a home daycare. Are you happy? ARe your children happy? Is your husband happy? In the big scheme of life that is all that matters…and we all know about these high school reunions…attended my 10th, I’d rather have oral surgery than to attend another one. 😉

    Hugs, Jenny

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