It’s been a doozy of a day. 16 second graders the week before February break have a certain…level of joy. Much like my own children, my students seem to have an uncanny ability to match my energy level in an inversely proportional manner. Today, that translated into a third cup of coffee and some “letting go” of scripted plans. I love my kids. I love their happiness, their energy, how they have formed a large classroom family in just a few short months. I am thankful to be able to share in their lives, and I am acutely aware of how lucky I am to be doing something that I love. For 10 years as a Speech Pathologist, I was unfulfilled.
I have found over the past two years that I apply what I learn about children in my classroom to my own family, and what I learn about childhood from my own family to the classroom. Speaking only for me (And, of course, we can only speak to our own experience) I really think that teaching makes ME a better Mom, and being a Mom makes ME a better teacher.
There’s a reason I’m setting this particular stage for you.
This afternoon, after my doozy of a day, I logged into facebook. I saw a link on a friend’s wall.
The link might as well have been blinking red with the words: DON’T CLICK, SARAH written above it… I knew it from the title of the article. http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/this-letter-will-make-you-have-new-respect-for-stay-at-home-mothers/ Because, you see, I HAVE respect for stay at home mothers. Alas… I clicked. And I read. And then… I seethed.
The article was a “letter” to the world at large from a man regarding stay-at-home motherhood. I suppose that his intentions were good. He was defending his own wife, whom he felt was not respected (and even mocked) for her choice to stay home with her children. He talked about how motherhood is the most important job there is… how it is beautiful and difficult and crucial.
But… he did more than that. He went too far, at the expense of those mommas on the other side of the “insanity spectrum” (aka motherhood)… moms who work outside the home. He spoke to how it’s not “ideal” for mothers to work. He implied that it’s materialism that has women who are also mothers working outside the home in the first place. He spoke to how any chosen career is “expendable”. How working isn’t “liberating or empowering”. And, I’m pretty sure he called those of us who are employed “zombies”.
Let me back this gentleman up for a moment. I GET WHAT HIS INTENTIONS WERE. I do. He wanted to defend his wife, defend motherhood. But here’s where I think he got it wrong…
When we judge the choices that somebody else has made, even (especially) in the vein of defending our own, we act divisively.
Divisiveness is not what Mommas need.
For example, “I can’t believe that she’s choosing to stay home, I would be so BORED. What will she DO all day??”
For another example, “I can’t believe that she’s already going back to work. Those poor babies… I would never want some daycare raising my children!”
We all have different life experiences, and they’re all valuable. I work as a teacher. I LOVE MY JOB. I’m fulfilled by it. And, I’m also a Mother. I’m not “expendable” or “materialistic” in my choice to support myself and my family financially. I’ve made my choices based on what is important to me. I have many friends who choose to stay at home with their children. They are not any of the negative things I’ve heard used to describe stay at home moms. They’ve made their choices based on what’s important to them.
And yet, the sanctimoniousness exists on both sides of just about EVERY parenting choice there is. Women can be so very cruel. Why do we have to tear each other down to build ourselves up? There isn’t a single mother anywhere who is completely confident, 100% of the time, that she’s making the right choices. Why do we take advantage of each others’ fragility instead of backing each other up?
Motherhood is HARD. It’s hard if you stay home with your children and spend your day feeding and clothing and bathing and cleaning and playing and disciplining and going crazy, and it’s hard if you work outside the home and you spend your day doing whatever you earn a living doing and then come home to cooking and cleaning and playing and disciplining and going crazy, etc.
You’re a mother no matter what you do. Hopefully, you do the very best you can. You take your own values, the things that are most important to you, and you mother with those pillars in mind. THAT is all that should matter. That each mother is doing the very best she can. That each mother makes choices out of love for her children, and those choices are right FOR THEM. It should matter that we can all learn from, and help, each other.
It should matter that we are all a little less fragile, a little less unsure, when we take care of each other.