Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Still, 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.

*************
Originally posted June, 2007. A year ago but I could have written it today.

16 comments:

Lori said...

Oh this could be me too. But, I tell myself, that can also be true of someone who works outside the home full time. Their job can become the primary focus of their conversation as well.

However, I do try very hard not to overdo the "kid talk" when talking with friends of mine who don't have children. For some it is probably annoying, and there are others for whom I know it could be hurtful. The trick is finding another subject... as you so aptly described. :)

Amy said...

I had a similar "oh my, I'm dull" moment the other day, upon rediscovering some old friends on Facebook, and realizing they all have Ivy League educations and are most probably building brains in their basements in their spare time... I, on the other hand, am completely impressed that Lily knows all the motions to "The Wheels on the Bus"... cest la vie! I wouldn't trade it. =)

the dragonfly said...

I love being a mom!! Sometimes it's overwhelming, with the Sergeant gone and being Mom 24/7 is literally all that my life is...but I still love it. I too have to be careful to not hurt single friends with too much baby talk...it's a fine line, but so far I think I've done okay..

Chrissy said...

Hey! Could you call me on my cell phone today? I haven't been able to find your phone number. thanks.

Kathryn said...

My mom was a stay at home mom too and I always wanted to be just like her. Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would always say "a mom". Lucky me! :)
I don't think anyone has ever really given me attitude over being just a stay at home mom either. Perhaps it is because they sense my ease and happiness with the decision.
Great post!

Kyla said...

I try to be mindful of that, too. I think it helps that I tend to be the listener in most conversations, so I don't have to worry about going on too much. When KayTar was going through all of the tests and whatnot, it was ALL I could think of...so I was quiet and awful lot then.

*pab said...

I would give anything to stay at home with Z. Without the constraints of office hours and work assignments, I feel like I would be free to CHOOSE how to spend my time with my son - whether it be snuggling on the sofa, playing in the pool, going shopping, doing chores, making a cake, whatever. I think the grass is always greener on the other side. And, really, who cares if there is a disconnect between women with children and women without children? If the friendship is solid, both will appreciate the differences and will be genuinely interested in the stories each has to share - regardless of whether they can relate. It's how we learn and grow. Keep your chin up. "Just a Mom" is the greatest thing ever.

Wendy said...

I never really wanted to be a mom, either. Aren't you thankful that God does indeed know us better than we know ourselves sometimes?

I once had a man tell me to my face (after finding out I stayed home with the kids) "But what do you talk to your husband about...the dog chased the cat today?" I hardly ever get as mad as I was at that moment.

Lisa writes... said...

Words I could have written, a year ago or today. Maybe you and I need to go to lunch? If only!

painted maypole said...

nothing wrong with being "just a mom," but of course you are much more than that.

Sister K said...

as a mom of "just a kitty" and as all of my friends have seemed to have gotten married and had kids, i feel kind of the same, but in an opposite way. but i love kids so i've chosen to just embrace it and become aunt "sister k" to any friend/relative who will let me :) be happy in your role. we all have roles in life (mom or not mom) and in turn, i no longer feel like i have to have my own children to hang out :) thanks for bringing this up!

Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart said...

I loved this! I'm so glad I happened by your blog. I loved the line about being a stay at home mom being a gift you didn't know to ask for. I feel the same way.

Beck said...

If someone doesn't want to hear about my kids, I just dismiss them. My kids are AWESOME.

Christine said...

i am incredibly boring and dull. it try to keep up on politics, etc. but i fail miserably and end up sounding ridiculous.

i try to tell myself over and over that the words "just" and "only" should never be used in front of the word "mom."

Cherice said...

As an alternate perspective . . . there are some who listen to the stories of their friends who are moms, wishing they had similar stories to tell. I am single, do not have children, but was one of those little girls who very much wanted to be a mom when I grew up. I love listening to my friends' stories about their children. When my friends, most of whom are moms, ask me about what is new in my life, I sometimes feel like the most boring person on earth because I don't have anything new to say except that I'm working on a different paper than last week's. Sometimes it feels very meaningless. I suppose the grass is often greener . . .

I appreciate my friends who include me in their lives and share their families with me. I also appreciate my friends who really want to know more about the things I'm working on--even if those things aren't directly relevant to their present situations as moms. Fortunately, I have been blessed with friends who try to do both.

Chaotic Joy said...

Thank you so much for your perspective, Cherice. That's one thing I'm learning, that everyone feels this way sometimes. And the best thing we can do is to remember everyone has something to offer, no matter how dissimilar their lives are to ours.