I posted this on my family blog and found that it struck a chord with a lot of women. So I wanted to share it here. It’s a shame we often find ourselves feeling so alone when in reality, we are likely feeling very much the same as other mothers.
I know this will not apply to everyone who comes upon this site, but for many of you, hopefully, this will help you find community in your experiences. We all find ourselves making hard choices, and it’s nice to have a little support doing it.
On being Mom. An essay of self-reflection by Amanda
It’s an interesting life I have chosen. At least I see it that way, and so I suppose, that is what it is. As I grew up and excelled academically (never athletically, though I tried), I was nudged and prodded and encouraged to go on to college. I never doubted that I could succeed in that arena. I never felt that because I was a woman that I had fewer opportunities or a diminished capacity for greatness. I think my biggest hindrance was being from the Bay Area which by virtue of the cost of living, immediately withdrew most opportunities for financial aid. Or so I thought, and again, it doesn’t matter the reality, just that it was so to me.
I chose BYU as my first and last academic institution because it was cheap, I’ll be honest. I never could say what I wanted to be when I grew up. Even when I went to law school and again succeeded even beyond my own imagination by graduating with honors, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be – surely not a lawyer though I would have been good at it.
The only solid answer I had ever come up with was that I wanted to be a Mom. Which, if you knew me as a youth among my six brothers, would have made you laugh.
When Matt and I married, I felt torn between law school (which I had decided on before I met him) and motherhood, wondering what the point of law school was if I was planning on staying home with my children. (And my family medical history of childbearing years isn’t terribly stellar, either, so putting it off didn’t sound like my best idea.) But Matt supported my weird whims and told me that even if I never practiced law a day in my life, that the education would bless our family forever.
I’m not sure that has come to be the case yet, because I often find myself feeling torn again. Was it a wasted $X0,000 and three years if I am letting it slip through my fingers? Am I throwing my potential away because I have one child at home that I can’t bear to tear myself away from to increase our income and get out of house debt? Would he really even notice I was gone and wouldn’t he be just fine? I know the answers to these questions are all no. At least I know that academically. I keep telling myself that forever is a long time, and I’ll get there yet.
I can’t say that I was born to be a mother. I wasn’t the sort of girl that played with dolls in strollers or took the class that made you carry around a 5 pound sack of flour and change its diaper. I wanted nothing to do with nurturing. I still don’t want to hold other people’s kids or make ga-ga faces when I see a baby. I am not so turned off by it as I once was, but I am not what you would call one of the “great motherers.” I have friends that are and sometimes I am jealous.
I don’t keep a tidy house. I try to keep it sanitary and clean, but my floor is covered in toys, there are shoes everywhere, and I don’t even want to start on the cords and paper story. I don’t even claim the excuse that we’d rather play and have fun. It’s just not me.
I find myself getting blue when I look at my life from a world perspective. I have everything that 90% of the world’s inhabitants only dream of. Central heat, a real home, clothes, food, electricity, the internet, happiness, love … lots of love, and today I even have sunshine and warmth. I can only explain that this makes me blue because I wonder if I am doing enough.
I know I have an incredible capacity for work. I have a brilliant mind that somehow the Lord felt I needed, and I can do the work of three men easily because I can multitask and they can’t. I wonder sometimes if I have the tools to help solve the crises of the world. I wonder if I am being selfish by staying home and blogging and cooking and playing.
Again, I know that as I write this, academically, I understand what a great blessing it is to stay home. I also know that my aforementioned wonders are so very short-sighted and that if I am even average, I am less than halfway through my life and I have much more time to give and love. And the thought of leaving Silvester with someone else on a regular basis so I can “pursue” my still unknown dreams of what I want to be when I grow up absolutely breaks my heart.
I suppose I haven’t completely come to terms yet with how I can bless the lives of others because I am a mother. I have the ability to support other mothers, to give a friend a hand in the middle of the day when nobody else is around, to be an example of joy and maybe even of doing things a little differently.
I don’t have that innate “mother” gene, and that’s probably okay. I think I have a better one. I have the one that doesn’t give up and knows how to work hard and loves the individuality of being me. I can foster my weird wishes to make cheese and bread and grow a giant garden and learn to run and rock climb and snowshoe and sleep outside. (I can even embrace my love of reptiles as pets, though Matt would never have it.) I have proved that I can do hard things. I know how to do hard things because law school is hard and running a half marathon as a non-runner is hard and growing up with a confusion of family is hard and things I cannot mention because they are so hard are very hard.
From all of that, I am still standing tall. I am still smiling most of the time. I have a beautiful child and the man that is most perfect for me as my husband. Sure, I have some battle wounds, but even I remember the playground of my youth when scars were something to brag about. Machismo wasn’t only for the boys.
I chose to be a mom and to stay home with my child. I chose it because it is one of the noble and great professions of this world. That world may never give us our due or their respect, and it may never acknowledge the sacrifices we make, and it may actually try to make us feel badly for keeping the GDP down and for “being selfish and lazy”. It may never understand why “someone as smart as you” would just stay home.
I am getting better at it. I’m finding myself torn less and less between the life I could have had and the life I do have. I chose this and I know this is the right thing for our family. I can spend the rest of my life catching up on the academics of this world. For now, I will learn new skills and new hard things. I’m quite sure that life will not get easier and that battles will rage outside. I stay home to make a safe place and a refuge for my family and for anyone else who needs one. Because I stay home, I can fill my home with love and peace, so that when Matt comes home from work and Silvester wakes up from his naps, the love and peace are tangible.
We may not have an abundance of worldly wealth, and I may rarely speak in full sentences again, and we will likely never make a craft with beans, yarn, pipe cleaners, paper plates, and elbow macaroni, but we have everything else.