Thursday, June 21, 2007

just a mom

Growing up, I never wanted to be a mom. I wasn't the kind of child that played with dolls or cooed over babies. My mother had children very young and I looked at her life taking care of us as dull and uninspired. She sacrificed too much of herself, I thought. It can't be worth it. I was determined to do something more exciting with my life. But as typically happens, life didn't turn out as I planned. For that I am grateful.

I genuinely love staying at home with my children. Despite my occasional emotional breakdowns I love being a mom. And even more surprisingly I feel fulfilled by it. I know that eventually I will have to decide what my life will hold once it doesn't have small children in it, but for now I am happy doing what I do. Being a stay at home mom is a gift I never knew to ask for.

I hear many mothers lament that they are treated as being less significant because they don't work outside the home. I can honestly say I have never felt this. Maybe it's because I, as most people, tend to surround myself with like-minded people. Maybe it's just the number of kids I have, and four kids seems enough to keep anyone busy. Maybe I am just oblivious, but I have never felt my role belittled or less valued. What I have felt, is less interesting.

I recently had dinner with a friend from highschool. We laughed and rolled our eyes the silly girls we used to be while hoping to recognize something of those girls in the woman across the table. When the reminiscing and gossiping lulled we progressed to our lives as they are now. She was still single and preparing to move to another state for her career. And as I babbled on with one story after another about my children and she commented politely, I realized I had better move on to another topic.

"Um..." Surely there's something else...

"Hmmm, I uh..." Crap. That's all I've got.

This has increasingly become a problem for me: trying to find something, anything, to talk about with women who don't have children. I have become so entrenched in this role as a mother of four that everything I am, (my activities, my words, my thoughts, my blog) is painted with the color mom. It's scary, this complete giving over of all that I was to a new identity that only has one layer. What will happen when it inevitably peels away? Will there be anything left?

With my life as it is right now, I don't really have a choice. My children, with their varying demands, simply take up all the time I have each day. More time, in fact, than I have each day. It's a season. But I am clinging to the hope that once this season passes and the little ones no longer need me in such an all encompassing way, that I will be able to start creating a new layer. Still tinted with my love for my children, as I always will be, should be, but maybe not blanketed by it. Maybe you'll be able to see through it a little, to the woman underneath.

Until then, I'll bear my just-a-mom banner proudly and try to remember the honor it carries with it. An honor for which becoming insufferably dull really is a small price to pay. And in the meantime I'll go read some more books. So at least I'll have that to talk about.

14 comments:

slouching mom said...

Lovely, lovely post. I know exactly how you feel. But I'll be facing the transition from "just a mom" to "????" very shortly, as my youngest starts kindergarten this fall. The terrifying thing is that I haven't yet figured out what's next for me. I've been "just a mom" so long that I'm not sure I still know how not to be.

Christine said...

I know exactly how you feel! Fortunately my news addiction and nervous talking tends to cover my tracks pretty well. But inside I usually feel weird or silly or embarrassed.

You know, even if being a mom is what is encompassing your life right now, I can still see Joy th woman in these posts and this lovely writing.

erin k said...

(hi, found you via Beck...)

This post echoes my feelings this week. I'm only on my first baby and already I feel like I've forgotten who I am apart from him.

Thanks for writing this.

Beck said...

Beautiful post!
I can still find things to talk to non-moms about, so long as they're fairly bookish. But if not, all is lost. I DO get a lot of flack for not working outside the home, mainly because where I live is 10 years behind the times - by the time my kids are in high school, everyone will have caught up!

painted maypole said...

you and all the ladies whose blogs I read are much more than "just moms" (and i say this as someone who completely believes that being a mom is really the best and coolest thing, so there!) But when in doubt, just ask the other person about THEMSELVES. And let them talk, and then all you have to do is comment. we all just really want to talk about ourselves anyways, right?

Heather :) said...

My friend,
Ya know... I have often felt the same when I write my Christmas Cards. The kids and even Steve have very long paragraphs and mine is small and simple. I also notice when I go out w/o children that I am FUN. Not the same kind of mom funny, but just fun. Does that make sense? I want to act. I look at different movies, my kids just watched High School Musical, and I think that I was jipped as a kid b/c I could have done that and never was encouraged to try. I know that I will act one day- when and where I am not sure. Heck, some actors get their breaks in their 30s. BUT, all of that being said, I am so thankful and blessed, as you already know too, to be a mom. I knew you the moment you became a mom on the stick and the dreams that faded at that moment and I am so proud of the mom you have been all these years! I know what you mean though and I am excited to see where your journey leads. Hey, maybe we can be in a movie together. You can sing and I will act. Deal? :)

Joy, of course! said...

Oh heather! You made me cry remembering us sitting there looking at those two lines in disbelief. How far we have come. Welcome to blogging.

Joy, of course! said...

Maypole-I totally tried the asking questions about my friend to get me off the spot and she was very quiet. I think that's why I had the need to find the common ground. I appreciate your kind words.

bubandpie said...

I look at it the other way around: all my life I struggled to find common ground with people - I've never been good at small-talk. When I became a mother, I was amazed at this huge body of shared experience - so much conversation fodder with just about anybody, so long as she was a mother! My sister-in-law, though, doesn't plan to have children. The two of us have never really connected, and I keep wishing she would get pregnant just so we'd have all those endless topics of conversation - symptoms, due dates, names, babies, toys, playgroups, emotions...you name it.

If I can't talk about the kids, though, I usually rely on talking about TV shows to get by.

thirtysomething said...

Wow. What a great post. It could have been my thoughts exactly, the not having anything to talk about except the kids part for sure. Sometimes it is hard to remember where mommy ends and I begin - remembering the "I" from premommyhood is a challenge! I have not visited your blog before, but I will definitely be back!

nutmeg said...

Crap! That's all I've got too! Seen any good movies lately?

Christy said...

Wow, really good post. I a am a mommy but not the stay-at-home kind...I never could be, just not me. You wouldn't believe the looks I get from so many because I have a young child and work. It isn't the easiest choice trust me, but for us it is the best. But there are definitely day I wish I was 'just a mom' you are all so luck and amazing moms!

TINA said...

OK, I AM A WORKING MOM. NOT BY CHOICE REALLY. I WISH I COULD STAY AT HOME. ONE THING I WILL TELL U IS THAT NO MATTER IF U R A WORKING MOM OR NOT U STILL ONLY HAVE THE CHILDREN TO TALK ABOUT. THE ONLY DIFF IS THAT U HAVE MORE PEOPLE AROUND U TO BRAG TO. ITS HARD TO WORK AND TAKE CARE OF A FAMILY BUT I THINK ITS EVEN HARDER AND MORE OF A JOB TO STAY AT HOME AND TAKE CARE OF A FAMILY. NO MATTER WHAT ITS ALWAYS A 24/7 JOB.

Scott Gibson said...

I think I am the only male who is responding to this post so far and I probably don't know anything about how you are feeling. I do want to say I think everyone feels this way sometimes with their career. I know there are times when I can't think of anything to talk about with people other than my work. I spend more time working than anything else in my life so it becomes a focus which is hard to stray from. Even when I am home I think and talk about what is to come the next day. If I was an actor or a politician it might win over most people but selling plumbing stuff doesn't hold a crowd long.
I pray that your friends accept you for who you are and not what you do. I pray that they show interest in who is talking and not what is being talked about. We were close friends once and I have to say I envy someone who gets to spend time with you even if you were talking about diapers and vomit the whole time.

Scott G