One of the worst Mom Moments of my life happened on a sunny April morning, eight and a half years ago. Starbucks in hand, I was pushing my son in his stroller while out running errands when I ran into another mom I knew through mutual friends.
We had babies around the same age and started chatting about feeding schedules, the great pacifier debate… newborn mom stuff.
“Are you going back to work soon?” I asked her, knowing that my own unpaid maternity leave was ending in just a few days.
“Oh no,” she replied. “I couldn’t go back to work. This is a really wanted baby. I would never give up this time with her.”
My world stopped for a second. Blood rushed to my head. She had a wanted baby that warranted stay-at-home mom status. Did this mean my son was not as wanted? Did this mean something was broken in me that I was heading back to work after 11 short weeks? Why was I suddenly jealous? And heartbroken?
Just beyond the bright red door of our cozy little home, a giant pile of shoes tells the story of our days. On Sundays, after an early morning cleanup, the pile is a tidy row of velcro Nikes and ballet flats. By Thursday night, it is a undulating heap of rain boots, broken flip flops, an errant sock, random baseballs, someone’s crusty wet tennis shoe, and swim goggles.
Each week, we start with the best of intentions and, each week, the shoe pile reflects what our lives are really like: colorful, scattered, adventurous, and nonstop.
Our house is now exactly one month into summer break. We’ve adjusted our schedules, rooted for our Cavs, given up on the one-popsicle-a-day rule, and shivered our way through early morning swim team practice. We have picked berries, hunted for sea glass, played a lot of baseball, and happily accepted Rice Krispies as dinner at least twice. Okay, maybe three times.
Part of me is frustrated – this summer was to be about continuing the momentum of my year, when the kids were in school eight hours a day when I could work and launch MotherBoard, and still be home for the bus every day.
But the truth is that this summer has already become something different.
Picture it. A neighborhood cocktail party and you bring your A game to embark on a night of the requisite small talk. Have you ever stopped to take notice of how many times you are asked, “So, what do you do”?
Our society is obsessed with what people do and it has become the ultimate conversation starter.
For a woman who has opted out of the workforce, this can be a complicated question to answer because there is what she does NOW, what she USED to do, and many times, what she WANTS to do.
But not right now, because life is complicated. Why is it complicated you ask? Because I’m a woman and I already had a steeper ladder to climb which means a faster fall to the bottom when I stepped out of the workforce. And I grow humans. Humans are expensive and hard. And daycare is expensive too. And though not on my resume, this mothering skill is really important and my children think I’m great at it. It’s not that I do nothing – I actually do a lot. But I want to remind you that I had a real job before I had kids, I was good at that too. Wait, raising kids IS a real job. I digress… Continue reading “Do What You Do: A Fresh Perspective on Work”→