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.