But Seriously

The other day I made a little joke about being a stay-at-home mom. In all seriousness, however, my new position in life has been on my mind recently.

My husband and I had talked for years about me being a stay-at-home mom. I had the perfect job for it–teachers don’t make a ton of money, so it’s not like we’d be crying over the lost income. Both my husband and I had mothers that had stayed at home (til our teens); it seemed like the logical choice.

As the time grew near for me to actually DO that, however, I found myself not wanting to. I liked my job and my identity was very much wrapped up in the idea of being a teacher. I felt that what I was doing had a lot of worth and I wasn’t convinced that serving one child exclusively was as important as serving many. Besides, most of the women I knew had jobs. Hell, check my current e-mail list and you’ll find a plethora of professionals. I don’t exactly have any mommy-buddies that want to go walking around the neighborhood with me.
I wasn’t even sure I liked stay-at-home moms. I mean, I didn’t really know any, but I had known stay-at-home wives on the Air Force Base and they did not rock my world. They seemed boring and their interests seemed to stretch to their husbands, their dogs, their nails, and dinner–not too exciting. This was probably dismissive of me, but I was tired of meeting women who said, “WE fly the t-37.” I mean, get your own life, right? (Note: there are exceptions to every rule, including this one, but that’s not the point of this entry)

Charlie’s birth, however, changed a lot of things. I just couldn’t convince myself that anyone else could do as good a job as I could. Daycare is fine and all, but he’s not going to get one-on-one attention all day like he does with me.

So how did I reconcile staying at home with my belief that a person is valued by the work that they do? Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. I am not kidding when I say that the first three months were hell. I would have moments where I would fantasize about emptying our joint checking and running away (I was going to let him keep the savings). It wasn’t that I didn’t love the baby or my husband, but the idea that Charlie’s entire future rested on my shoulders was just too much to bear. How did I know if I was doing a good job if I didn’t get a performance report, feedback, or a grade?!? I’m sure the whole traumatic birth, brain injury, vision loss, cerebral palsy thing didn’t help, but I’m equally sure that some of it was just run-of-the-mill post-partum depression.
Slowly, however, things have turned a corner. I am finding things to do with myself and figuring out this new identity. For the first time in twenty-three years, I don’t answer to anyone–no one gives me a grade or feedback; no one makes suggestions for improvement. I’m on my own. I have to look to myself for approval or disapproval. I have to figure out what I think success is because no one else is looking over my shoulder.

These days I work very hard to provide Charlie with the best care possible. I also watch independent films, take pictures, grow vegetables, draw, paint, and try to improve my writing (TRY is the operative word). Weekends I used to spend recovering are now passed at concerts and museum exhibits. The pace is slower, but I’m doing a lot of the things I always wanted to do.

Do I worry that people will see me at just a mommy? Of course, but just being a mommy has provided me with a little self-assurance. There will be people who look at me and see a woman with a very small life. There will be people who briefly check out my blog and see nothing but a mommy blogger. So be it. Some of these people are small-minded and some them are jealous. Some of them just suck. If people judge me in an instant, then they’re missing out. My life is more than just my husband and my child. Besides, I’m definitely not going to invite them over for margaritas and fajitas which, trust me, is their loss. Point is, I’m happy and mine is the only opinion that matters.
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  1. Where did you get that food grinder? I want one. And, stay-at-home mommies–I’m not sure I like them either. I mean, you and I are pretty much amazing, but still…
    As for your comment on my page, oh yeah. It’s a jungle down there–has been for the past 5 months when I lost sight of…well anyway, the nurses in labor and delivery are in for a shock. I doubt they’ve ever seen worse.

  2. Nadine Hightower says:

    And you are doing a great job at being a mom! And after awhile you will venture out to do other things when Charlie is older. Be patient.
    And as for WE want to do things….I do it. What happens to Roy happens to me. What happens to me happens to him. He is my world. And I am his. We are all we have. Some times that is a bad thing…but for the most part..WE are rock solid.

    Celebrate mother’s day with a passion as you are a very good mother. WE all have doubts about whether or not WE are but WE manage.


  3. Rocket Man says:

    It doesn’t matter if your child is “normal” or “special needs” – ALL moms worry & wonder if they’re doing a good job. Fact is, you can only raise your child based on the information & feelings you have at the moment. Will you screw up & have regrets? Absolutely! But you will also make many wise decisions. As a friend of mine once said “If anybody’s going to screw up my child, it’s gonna be me!”

    And make no doubt about it – teenagers need a parent around too. You can’t let them feel like they have all the freedom in the world. They have to wonder “Is mom coming home soon?”


  4. Billie says:

    Ok. I have to admit that it never would have occurred to me to think that you were less of a person because you were ‘just’ a mommy.

    In fact, I have a lot of respect for you because you ARE a mommy and you seem to be doing an amazing job with Charlie. Your seemingly unfailing cheeriness and optimism in the face of the ongoing battle with Charlie’s physical problems is simply amazing.

    Keep up the good work at being you AND a mommy.

  5. courtneym says:

    i’ve been reading your blog for a long time (yes, a lurker) and what i’ve discovered is that no matter what life throws at you, you handle amazingly and the end result is always impressive!! if you’re not sure that you like SAHM then i vote we come up with a new term since (in my thoughts) you are much more than “just” a SAHM. on the bright side not only are you providing Charlie the best care he could have but you are also able to do things that you’ve always wanted to do! just from reading your blog i think you are an amazing teacher, mother, and basically just a wonderful person all around! (haters are just jealous!) :o)

  6. Heya, just caught up. My mom-in-law was in town all week. I get your drift about the SAHM’s on the base and the nails and the dogs…ARG! But I’ve found a couple of them I can stand because the baby loves to play with other babies and of course they drink wine. As for my job-SAHM-itis I’m just feeling better about not having my own money after about 1 1/2yr, after all I made more than my husband @ the last jobs we had…and it’s so odd not having that gratification of a job completed and a big bonus coming in. I mean the laundry never ends, or the cooking, or the dishes, the diapers…etc… As for the food grinder I still have the thing my Dad bought for GiGi- a Cuisinart mini-processer…I used it for the baby to it’s awesome AND you don’t have to do any manuel labor.

  7. Small Town Girl says:

    You know, I think you’re an amazing mom to Charlie and still a pretty amazing person, too. You’re well-educated, you know what’s going on in the world outside of just you. Plus, the way I see it, you’re still teaching, just to a smaller audience that’s closer to your heart.

  8. Seeking Serenity says:

    I can’t think of someone with more integrity than someone who is willing to stay home with their children and provide all they can to help them grow up to be the best they can be. Anybody that would look down on you for being a stay-at-home-mom just doesn’t have the guts to do it themselves.


  9. You and I both know that there is no such thing as “just a mommy”…and if people see me as that, then that’s okay with me!

    My mom was also an at-home mom. It was the best thing in the world knowing she would be there when I got home. The in-laws don’t quite “get” my need to be at home, especially now that they are 13 and 10, but frankly, I don’t care. I don’t answer to them.

    In my opinion, moms are the best teachers in the world. You are still a teacher. Now you just have a classroom of one. :-)

  10. Toni–food mill is from Target. It cost seven dollars.

    Nadine–I see what you’re saying and I use WE sometimes too. I was more specifically talking about women who would say stuff like, “we fly the T-37.” I mean, they don’t actually fly anything. Most of them don’t even know how to fly! That particular phrase aggravated me. I didn’t really word that correctly. Actually, now I’m going to go correct that. Aren’t blogs the best that way?

  11. Nadine Hightower says:

    Yeah you caught me…I’m not feelin’ too swooft still yet. So I don’t twitter about. I haven’t been my shits and giggles self…This whole aging process is not for sissies either!!
    Don’t change a thing in your blog or opinion. I understand totally. I too have met a “pilotwife” only she had on “Trooperuniform”…WE had a shoot out…We had highspeed pursuits….sweet demure woman she was, I can’t imagine her actually sittin’ behind the wheel of a cop car….or ever holding a gun.
    I didn’t do that…I was not allowed to get anywhere near the drivers seat…damn it!! It does sound like me though. woo hoo…highspeeds and all.
    Anyway….So which one of us is the drama queen today?? I’ll keep my crown on this.

    be patient with me

  12. I will admit I’ve had some negative thoughts about SAHM’s. But, just like working people are not all the same, SAHM’s aren’t all the same. You have stuff going for YOU and a life besides your husband and Charlie. Not to take away from them but you know what I mean!! One of my s-i-l’s, she’s so into being a mom, that I have no idea who SHE is anymore. And she “can’t find the time” to email or anything, hello the kids are 4 and 6 now, and she can’t find time to email, what the hell is she doing? I know that kids that age can entertain themselves while mom is doing stuff.

    I will admit I laugh when I go to the Y to work out on my lunch hour, and there’s ladies there dropping off their kids so they can play tennis. I think geesh that must be the life!!

    You do have a unique case because Charlie does need the extra attention and teaching and he couldn’t get as much or as quality of care and attention as you give him!!

  13. Rural Felicity says:

    You’re way beyond JUST a mom. We all are. Some people get lost in it for awhile, but that’s okay. I’ve been a sahm for almost 10 years, my interests, hobbies, have changed throughout the years, and while it may be boring to some what I blather on about, it is the ones that it entertains that interest me. You’re cool! So, deal with it! :)

  14. GreenieWeenie says:

    I love this blog. As more and more people ask me when I’m going to have children (not planning on it soon but sometimes these things are surprises, aren’t they?), I’ve contemplated being a stay-at-home mom for at least the pre-school years. I know I’ll struggle with this, probably for the same reasons you do. I mean, who ARE we when we exist only to meet somebody else’s needs? Is this the ultimate expression of self-sacrifice, or is it just a lame excuse to defray finding a legitimate source of self-worth? I don’t have any answers but like you, I’m convinced that whatever answer I do find won’t be one that’s right for everyone. All that matters is it is right for me. Thank your lucky stars you don’t have a mother-in-law (or who knows, maybe you do) who’s convinced that any activity other than stay-at-home parenting is wholly detrimental to a family unit. I’m not sold on that idea yet, nor the rationale given that she has never attempted to do anything other than that…

  15. You are definitely not just a mommy! I think having a kid with special needs is different from having a regular kid. I can’t imagine how it would feel to leave Charlie in daycare all day. I’m not sure I could do that if I were you (or even as me). No one IS going to be able to look after him like you. I think you made the best decision–plus, look how cultured you’re getting! 😉 I want to paint and go to museums!