“Do you work?”
I haven’t been asked this question, in this way, for awhile. And how thankful I am for that, for those three little words stir something in me that can only be described as unpleasant (and a little gross): a turbulent goo sloshes in my stomach, a heat rises in my chest and a fog clouds my brain. The sensation isn’t quite anger or embarrassment but a discomfort, unease at having to respond that while I don’t have a career outside the home, I do indeed work within it as a mother and homeschooler and writer.
Am I ashamed my work uniform is yoga pants and a sweatshirt instead of something more “business casual?” (What is that, anyway?) Of course not. I’m busy, engaged in pursuits I consider worthwhile, enjoying my kids. In the course of considering this post, I think my near-nauseous feelings relate more to society’s expectation that women have outside-the-home careers than the fact I left that life for my kids. And also that
All moms work.
When you get down to it everyone knows this, even those who venture to ask whether a mother works or not. It’s simply unfortunate that “working” is used to describe moms who leave home to bring back a paycheck. Which those moms totally deserve credit for, more than they get. While mothers who “just” stay home get criticized for their choice, the irony is that those who work outside it suffer the same for “abandoning” their children. What an unfair double-standard. And why does the length of a mom’s resume even matter? Because the balancing act is the challenge we face, no matter how many children, or whether pursuits take a mom outside the home. But it’s not the height or the length of that tightrope. It’s how gracefully we cross it.
Because we are all moms. The “working” is implied. (Or should be.)
I’m more tied to the home than ever, with homeschooling our three kids. I’ve been given a new tightrope and the inherent difficulties in crossing it. My comfortable routine…when I write, pay the bills and run errands has had to change. I get up earlier in the morning, keep more lists, employ my kids help more often (more on that in a later post). And, the toughest challenge of all for me, I’ve had to accept that maybe I only get five things done a day instead of ten. I’ve had to reprioritize my priorities. This, with my addiction to ticking items off a list, is a tough tightrope to cross and I continually wobble and waver my way across, every day. Sometimes I fall. At least the safety net of another day is there to keep me from losing it. And as I try to shake it off I wonder:
How do moms who also work outside the home do it????
You all amaze me, that’s for sure. Moms who enjoy the privilege of being there to greet their kids off the school bus, you, too, are awesome. Show your tightrope who’s boss. And
Happy Mothers’ Day