Saturday, January 25, 2014

Follow-up

I've loved all of the sweet and thoughtful comments that people have written here, on Facebook and in person. It's so good to feel loved and understood. The previous post had been a long time in coming. I really needed to write it the first year of motherhood when I was miserably depressed and confused. I felt very alone and wondered constantly what was wrong with me and why I couldn't be blissfully happy like those other mothers I read on blogs, saw on Facebook or met at church functions. I'm obviously still confused and I'm still trying to figure out how we can live our lives so that everyone can be happy and fulfilled, but I'm at peace with myself. I'm at peace knowing that I don't like being a homemaker, nor am I very good at it. And while there are those out there who are both happy and good at that role, it's OK that I'm neither. Maybe that's why my thoughts finally got published. 

I've also come to realize that what people put on Facebook, blogs and say in public are only the best 5% of what actually goes on in their day to day lives. The other 95% is full of messes, chaos, boredom, mistakes and TV watching. I think it's good we focus on all the good, beautiful moments, because we need those bright, happy moments to lift us up. It's where most of our thoughts should go. But then it can also create this very bad space where perceived reality, is very far from reality and comparing our worst to someone's best can hurt deeply.

A little clarification on some of what I wrote. I think it is unfair the lot that women are drawn in a typical traditional family. There is nothing wrong with being a homemaker. On the contrary, it is an extremely difficult, necessary and noble job, but when it is always expected and no alternatives are given, I find that a huge problem. I have felt very trapped. Part of that is my own doing. I should have taken the initiative to consider all of my options and consider that I might not want to be a stay at home mother. I should have kept going on with my education instead of following a rote path. Some of it is upbringing. There should be more talk of possibilities, praying and following what the spirit tells you. It's not fair that men must be the provider. What if they want to stay home? That's an even a harder sell than a woman in our church working outside the home. I'm sure that choice garners a lot of eyebrow lifting, pity or grown-up teasing. And it absolutely should not! Because they have chosen to do the hardest and most selfless job on the planet. I think that often is said in a patronizing way, but nothing could be further from the reality.

When I talked of not all men being required to do a certain job, because they were male. I meant to emphasize that it a great fallacy and injustice to expect all women to love and want to be a homemaker because they are a woman. Just like a man is able to both be a father and a teacher, so too can a mother be a mother AND something else if that is right for her and her family. The hardest thing about becoming a mother, was feeling like the old me had died and in her place was someone who had no other identity other than mother.  

I'm very, very lucky because I have a fantastic husband who has done way more laundry in our eleven years in marriage than me. We work together when he gets home from work. He understands that we've both had a busy, hard day and that we both have to keep working to keep our home going when his "work day" ends. He gets up with the kids, he helps me put them to bed. He helps do the dishes, cooks, cleans, watches the kids and whatever else needs to be done. I'm spoiled and I'm lucky. Oh how I wish we had made millions and we could do this homemaking thing together twenty-four seven. That would be perfect. I would have fantastic company and a huge support day in and day out. But that's not ever going to happen for anyone. So what I wish for, is more of an open mind. An environment where each person male or female can do what suits themselves and their families best. And that roles are not dictated solely upon gender. That we all become more selfless and seek to put the needs of our spouse and our children above our own.




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Confession

I don't like being a stay at home mom. There, I said it. I'm sure there are some working moms out there, who would love to be able to say at home and just threw something at their computer. I wish you could too. I wish we could all do what was best for us and our families. And I guess that's my dilemma, because I feel like staying home is what's best for our family as a whole, but not for me. I also haven't worked with kids and so maybe I would really end up hating it.

I grew up hearing many a Sunday lessons about my future role as a mother and how the best place and best career for me was being a stay at home mom. My mom stayed home and I loved it and felt bad for those kids who didn't get to have their mom at home with them. I grew up in Provo, Utah and most of the people I came into contact with were stay at home moms. Conversations always directly supported or had the implied expectation that the ideal for me was to work hard in school and get an education that could be a fall back to the ultimate goal of being a stay at home mom. This is what I thought I wanted. Staying at home was so ingrained and taken for granted, that I never, ever even questioned whether I would like it. I never thought about what kind of a life that would be, whether I'd be good at it and if it would make me happy. A career was a contingency plan: If I didn't get married. If my spouse died. If I got a divorce.

I'm so lonely being a stay-at-home mom. I love being around people and I've decided that mostly means adults. Not that I don't like kids, but somehow they just don't fulfill that deep social need for me. I don't like many of the domestic jobs associated with keeping up a house and making a home. I hate laundry. I hate cleaning. Cooking and sewing are about the only tasks I enjoy. The latter is no longer practical and instead expensive and a hobby which really isn't too conducive with me and children. And cooking looses a lot of it's pleasure for me when I have someone literally clinging to my legs and incessantly and indiscriminately crying. I never anticipated the constant weight of responsibility that never takes a vacations. There are no sick days. I'm constantly on call. There is no work, no where else to retreat to. I don't like playing toys with my kids. I wish I did, but I don't. My brain gets so dang bored. I am not a homebody. I get impossibly stir-crazy if I don't leave home at least once a day. And when you have a child that needs naps, you quickly learn that stir-crazy is better than dealing with a no nap child crazy.

But really I'm just surprised there aren't more Mormon women like me. At first I thought it was just because they wanted to fall in line with what's expected and didn't want to give the impression that they didn't love their children, but then I realized there really are a lot of women out there who legitimately like this homemaking thing. And maybe the ones that don't, are actually working so they aren't the ones at playgroup. But there must be others out there like me. It's like telling men out there, when you grow up you will all manage a fast food restaurant. And you will do it because you are male and because that's what you are best at and what you must do. Some men, would likely love it and thrive at it. Some would just be alright with it and some wouldn't like it. I try to console myself with believing that I'm just one of those who isn't a natural and doesn't love it.

So why don't I just go and work? Part of it is because by the time I had this all figured out, we had too many kids and my teaching job probably wouldn't even cover the daycare cost. We put all of our initial efforts into Russ having the big career and building a family with me staying at home. Hence, I stopped at a bachelor's degree, so I could work while Russ finished his bachelor's. Russ got the masters and I will wait to do it later. And even if I did have a job that would make daycare make financial sense, I still don't know if I would want to not have a parent staying home with the kids. I loved having my mom home and I want that same thing for my kids. I want to be there for them and if I am going to work, I'm going to work AWAY from home.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I'm Writing That Hit Song- "Alone in My Principals"

I'm crazy. I'm weird. I live an hour away from NYC and I don't like where I live. Not one bit. Ok maybe a bit. I like all the cool places we get to see and fun trips we've taken. But day to day, it's not my cup of tea. There have been a lot of tears of frustration and sadness where the majority of the populace would be shedding tears of gratitude over the grand luck and opportunity of living in the East. I've never been enamored with NYC, but I have always thought New England sounded absolutely charming and somewhere anyone would be lucky to reside. I would look at the Connecticut quarter and think, "Yep, just like that quarter is gorgeous, so must be Connecticut." I now say, "It's charming to visit, not to live in". I know that I'm pretty alone in my sentiments and I'm pretty sure that even if I'm not, the New York tourism mafia has a hit out on anyone who in anyway disparages the greater tri-state area. So if I'm dead tomorrow, you know why.

I mostly frown at generalizations, but here goes one from my lips anyway: People in this area are mean. They say what they think and mean what they say. They have no problem letting you know exactly what you've done wrong, how it's effected them and how you should fix it. A poor little Mormon Utahn doesn't know what to do with all that naked honesty except have a good cry in the car after her first few trips to the Danbury Costco. But a year and a half later, I'm weirdly grateful for something being here has done for me: I've gotten a thicker skin, become more confident in who I am and saying what I really think. I still hope to be kind, sickly friendly and true to my British politeness roots, but I also hope to get better about being brave.   

In the past, with my blog, I've very much striven to be open and honest with my feelings and I think I've done a good job with that. I try to portray my real feelings, my real life and not a glossy exaggeration of the happiest and most picture perfect moments. But I want to write more and write more honestly. So here is to writing consistently and even less censored. I'm crazy and I'm weird and I'm OK with that!