right now I’m all about homemade soup, but I remember the workplace and BOSSYPANTS

I have a confession to make: I love being a mom. I love being a wife, even (in whispered tones) a housewife. I love staying at home. I love making dinner for my family. I love being in charge of my children’s day. I love showing my husband what they’ve learned.

I love the look in my husband’s eyes when he sees my 3-year-old zoom down the street on his bike–only a few days before that he had been so tentative, but I worked with him, I challenged him to let up on the brakes–pedal three times in a row, I said, then four, then five. My husband is impressed and looks at me, raising his eyebrows and questioning to see if I, too was seeing this for the first time or if I had something to do with it. I smile and he knows: I worked hard for that. Every time, every new thing, he gives me that eyebrow raise. Every time, I give him that smile. “Our boy is growing up,” I say. That was only a couple of weeks ago and today I had to take the bike away for going too fast, for not listening when I yelled “stop.” They go so fast–cycling and life.

I love family dinners, every night. Asking my son to tell his dad what he learned today. Not on a school day, but on a mom day.

I love it when I cook something good and my husband loves it. I love it when I cook something bad and he tells me the truth. I love paying at the grocery store, watching the fresh food slide by, knowing that our stomachs will be filled it it, knowing that I am taking care of the people that I love.

Sometimes I feel the need to defend myself. Writing a book, being a mom; neither are exactly financial success stories. Was my liberal arts degree really necessary to teach beginning bike-riding and supervise violin practices?) People who choose one job over another may think on their choice (sometimes my husband will wonder out loud why he’s a doctor and not a pianist), but this is more a mental exercise, a momentary imagining. It isn’t the emotionally, politically, and socially laden debate of the working versus not-working mother.

But working moms or not-anymore-working moms or moms who never worked or moms just starting to work–we have to think about our decision every day. (Or maybe we don’t? This would be news to me.) But I would argue (I am arguing actually) that society expects that we voice our decision out loud. Often. (And preferably with regret–regret at missed time with the kids if we work or regret at a wasted dream if we don’t.) If we work, we are supposed to justify it by saying “it keeps me sane” or “I’m setting a good example for my kids” or my personal favorite “a happy mom makes a happy family”. If we don’t work, we are supposed to say that it’s our “favorite job” as if it’s a job and not just who we are.

My husband works.  He works a lot. Way more than 40 hours a week. And he has two kids. And he loves them very much. And yet I’ve never heard him say that he does it to keep sane, to set an example, or to be happy for the sake of the family. He does it because he chose to be a doctor. And I’ve never heard anyone question that.

It really pisses me off.

Oh sure, I have professional goals. But that’s not what I’m talking about right now. Right now? If I’m being totally honest? I just want to go to the zoo, take car trips to the space museum and the aquarium, listen to really horrible-sounding violin lessons, teach someone how to draw the letter “A” or how to say “red” in Spanish, and make lots of really good, homemade meals. I want to feed my family, to keep them healthy and to support them. I don’t care if it’s cheesy or out-dated, I want to be the “wind beneath” everybody’s wings.

It’s important to note that I am using “I” statements.  By no means am I saying this is what everyone should do. (It’s stupid that I even have to say that, but I do. Read the news–any of it.) I, like most women who are tired of thinking of themselves as an issue to be debated, can get worked up about this. Which is why I like to have a good laugh about it all. And for this I highly recommend Tina Fey’s memoir about being a girl, a woman, and a working mom, Bossypants.

Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey
Genre: Memoir, Humor
Age: Old

Review and Summary: Disclaimer. This is not a parenting book. The chapter on how she was running from working with Oprah on 30 Rock to a Sarah Palin impersonation on Saturday Night Live to picking out her daughter’s Peter Pan birthday cake was my favorite. Because yes, all three of those things are equally important.

14 Comments to “right now I’m all about homemade soup, but I remember the workplace and BOSSYPANTS”

  1. I do agree with you on many points. Women, after all, are always asked to perform more tasks than men and are often asked to live many contradictions (they must not only be moms but they must also work, if they work, they’re not good moms, if they don’t work, they’re not being independent women etc. if they can’t do both without going nuts, then there is something wrong with them!). I do think you forgot one important point though: people, women, moms, work because they can’t afford not to, because they need to pay the bills. In many ways, being a housewife IS a privilege isn’t it? Many people simply cannot afford to stay at home with their kids, so they don’t actually CHOOSE to work. This perhaps complicates the guilt you were mentioning.

    • Yes! Thank you so much! I completely agree with you and I do know that I’m incredibly, incredibly lucky to have this chance, especially in today’s economy. (And thanks, also, for the deliciously yummy biscuits you blogged about recently. I have eaten four today. And it was my first recipe ever with nutritional yeast–definitely will be making more with that soon!)

  2. I really appreciated this article. When I was in my twenties. I bought the whole “feminist” (whatever that means) deal and scorned anyone that wanted to ‘just be a mom and housewife’. That equated a big zero in my book.
    When I became a mother I never realized I could love someone else so much and all my career dreams paled in comparison. I feel sorry for women who can’t spend the time with their kids the way you do. What you have is priceless!!

    • Thank you–yes, it is priceless! I think it’s sad that the fight for equal rights in the workplace had to belittle the role of the mother, just as the role of the mother originally belittled the role of women in the workplace. Maybe there will be a day when women can choose one or the other (or some version of both) and not be judged by every friend, stranger, and politician. I’m not holding my breath, though.

  3. This is so true even for non-moms… having to make a choice about how to live our lives, think about it every day (yeah, I think it’s pretty much daily), and present that choice to the world around us.

    Your thoughtful writing and insightful questioning “justify” three fold every cent that you didn’t post to the household bottom line. And I totally know that eyebrow raise. And I totally know it’s also asking “are you sure I don’t have to pay you for this?”

  4. 🙂 Thanks, Allie; I’m going to think of that phrase every time now. And I might say, “Actually, you do. I’ll take a back massage.” 🙂

  5. I’m one of those moms that have a slightly different struggle. I have to have a job outside the home in order to provide for the basics. I don’t have a choice. I’m a mom of 4 – one biological, 3 step, and because it isn’t an option for me, I don’t feel any pressure to justify my decision to work. However, I do have to remind myself all of the time that I take lesser paying jobs so I can work from home or close to home, be with my kids and remain involved. We may not be able to afford much but I”m here for my kids and that is what works for us.

    I hear this debate all the time from parents who can afford to make a decision to stay home or go to work. It bugs me too, and in the end I think we agree. No matter what your choice, good parents do what is best for their family and they make it work. 🙂

    • I completely agree, and thanks for commenting! I certainly know that I am lucky to have the choice. There are of course other moms who would like to be working and can’t find work in this economy. I guess my post was not meant to say that my current situation was the right one for everyone, but just that I was happy to find (somewhat unexpectedly as I never imagined myself as a SAHM) that I was loving it. I wish you luck with your job and your four kids! Do you have any favorite books that you read to them (or used to depending on their ages I suppose)? I’m always looking for new suggestions to blog about!

  6. Ages 12, 10, 8 & 4… right now we’re reading Harry Potter to the 8 & 10 year old, the oldest is reading Hunger Games and the youngest is into Dr Seuss. Other than those, the favorites have been:

    The Doll People
    LIttle House Series
    Caps for Sale
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Goodnight Moon
    Doctor DeSoto
    George & Martha
    The Little House
    Skippy Jon Jones
    Charlotte’s Web
    Any Mo Willems!

  7. Thank you so much! I agree about Mo Willems and Skippy Jon Jones—those are awesome! And George and Martha–I should add that to my blog; we read those stories every now and then but I absolutely loved them when I was a kid. I think I’ve seen The Doll People before, but never read it; I will look into that one. And Doctor DeSoto–I don’t know that one at all–I will check it out. Thanks!

  8. You made one specific distinction that I’d like to comment on – you described being a Mom as being “just who you are.”

    Like you described, I have felt the pressure to be a SAHM, a certain kind of housewife, even to pursue a certain career. But I realized one day those choices – the way that I perceived my “obligations” to lie – were not ‘who I was’. I am a Mom, for sure, and I love to help my kids grow and learn and flourish, to encourage them to show off to their dad and grandparents and to pass on the skills and passions that I have.

    But I am also an engineer, a politician, one of the people that ‘makes things happen’ outside the home. And I say that as a matter of identity, personality – not as a prescription for anyone else and their role in their family or community. I am naturally a multitasker, and have defined for myself what it means to be a supermom. My youngest son came along after I thought I had already had all my kids. He was born at home, in a stock tank that I had bought for the occasion. And at 3 weeks old, I put him in the sling and we went off to structural design class.

    My kids are learning that people have all different callings, and they go to classes and meetings with me, and they go camping and to soccer and to symphonic band performances with me, because that’s how we roll.

    I am so happy for people – moms especially – when they find their groove. A SAHM recently took a marketing position and is working on that about 20 hours a week, mostly from home. She absolutely blossomed because she was missing the creative process, and her girls are so proud. I have other friends who, like you, have a blast homemaking with their kids full-time. I can’t help but admire women who are true to their character and calling and truly are productive and happy.

  9. Thank you so much for your comments, and I am so happy also to hear from women who are doing what they love as you are and setting a great example for their kids. I was inspired to write this post not to say that being a SAHM is for everyone (or even that it will be the right thing for me forever) but because I found myself being so pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. I have a tendency to second guess my decisions (would I be happier back at work in schools which I loved doing?) and it’s good to remind myself of how good I have it. Of course, if I do go back to work some time, I hope I also remind myself of how good I have it. 🙂

  10. Wendy, it’s funny that you have a running list of the everyday tasks you enjoy about SAHM life while I stand on the precipice of writing a post for World Moms Blog confessing that many of the same things that bring you joy leave me feeling hollow and unfulfilled. But that may be my own personal issue because hardly a day goes by that I’m also not tremendously thankful for having the choice to stay home. I worry that once my kids are both in school, I’ll forget how to be effective in the work place and may find it hard only to have one task to focus on at a time (lol). I think I’ll start back at the top of your post and reread it 50 times before going to bed tonight…the power of positive thinking!

    • Well, I have to say that part of the reason I wrote that post is because I was so glad and so surprised to be feeling that way. I don’t always feel that way, but when I do, I try to relish in it because, like you say, of the power of positive thinking. Of course, when I was working, I also had days where I loved it and days where I didn’t, so I think the feelings go with anything. And I do have to have my outlets–I found a great volunteer program at the local prison where I meet with a prisoner once a week in a mentoring situation. And I write–blogging and trying to write a children’s book. I think without those, yes, too many days of fish puzzles would make me crazy. 🙂

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