6.13.2011

Who are you?

I have been kicking around a post in my head about how frustrating and demoralizing it is that our society values our work above our souls. When you meet someone new, they inevitably ask what you do. And when I reply that I’m a stay-at-home mom, the conversation quickly crumbles after a false smile and a slightly condescending “hmmmmm”. Sometimes people say “oh yeah, my mom stayed at home, too!” as if that’s making a personal connection. Or they imply that I have a whole lot of free time. On occasion, someone will say “you know, I’ve always wanted to ask a SAHM what it is that they do all day! I mean really? What do you DO?”

I don’t want the frustration with this huge but distinctly American issue to just turn into a ranty post about people being pretentious and condescending when they’ve asked me about my life choice. For me it was a carefully evaluated and orchestrated decision. I put the rest of my life on hold, and I may not ever be able to go back. I am building my family, spending my life doing something bigger than than serving myself, all while shrinking my world.

I wish people asked each other “who are you” as opposed to “what do you do?”. I am not sure what I would say, but I know for sure I am more than diapers and laundry and nap routines and errands and chores and pureeing another vegetable.

I might have to say that I’m an organizer, a writer, reader, traveler, photographer, cook, grower. I love to learn and be inspired and create. I want to make the world a better place and I want to teach people how to be more intentional about their lives. Oh yeah, and I’m a wife and a mom, and I kick ass at it.

So I would love for us as moms to have a little social uprising. When you meet someone, ask them who they are, what defines them, what they love – not what they do. Because I’m sure we can all agree that motherhood is not always about doing what we’re passionate about, it’s about doing what needs to be done, being selfless, and thinking about the things that make us inspired, even when we can’t do them.

I have shied away from talking about the things I did and do that excite me, because I’m so behind. I haven’t kept up with advances in my field, I haven’t had time to do much photography or “real” writing or traveling. I haven’t been doing what I love – but what I love defines me more than my current tasks do.

People will be caught off-guard, I’m certain. And some may just tell you about their position as a marketing assistant at the city’s second biggest marketing firm. Some may tell you that they’re a SAHM or that they work & have a family. But you may be unknowingly honoring people by recognizing that they are more than their unceasing to-do list.

2 comments:

  1. Tough one. When people ask me (and I am a SAHM too) what exactly I "do" all day, I want to say, "I do exactly what your day-care or nanny does. But for free." Just because they don't SEE what I do, doesn't mean I am not doing it.

    Now when I meet other moms, I inevitably say, "What did you do before you were a mommy?" or the corollary, "What do you want to pursue when your kids are older?" Those two questions (to me) honor the fact that the person is more than a walking uterus.

    I have even found that now that I work just part-time, I seem to garner a tad more respect. Plus it helps my brain to be away from small children for stretches of time. I always tell my husband that I would be a FANTASTIC parent if I only had to do it Mon-Fri from 9-5. Wow. I would have so many fun activities planned, and when I clocked out in the evening, I could go out to dinner or work-out at the gym or sleep for a very long time.

    Full-time stay-at-home mommies who are with their kids 24/7 need a medal, not ridicule or pity. And they certainly don't need jerks at cocktail parties whose eyes glaze over when they hear "mother."

    best,
    MOV

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  2. Here is a funny post along the same lines http://www.rantsfrommommyland.com/2011/06/domestic-enemies-of-stay-at-home-mom.html. It's a little more crass but shares the same frustration.

    Since I typically hang out in mommy circles, I don't ask this question much. When people ask me, I would love to have the gumption to say, "I'm a GREAT mom."

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