So I’ve been thinking A LOT about how my identity has a lot wrapped up in Baby T. Being a Mom has dominated my life–which it well should, since it’s only the most important thing in my life, ever–BUT it’s a little tiring when I find myself forgetting who I was before him–and who I still am. Becoming a stay-at-home mom has made me feel more significant than I’ve ever felt before, but also less significant than I’ve ever felt in my life.
So let me lay it out for you, or rather for myself. I am a highly educated, well-spoken, social woman. I worked hard for my degree, worked hard at building lasting friendships and relationships and work really hard at my marriage (God love my husband, I am not easy to live with but neither is he). I worked hard (and continue to work hard) to get my family where we are today–but I’ll be damned if I don’t feel like a lazy, free-loader because I’m not bringing home a paycheck.
I WAS a public school teacher by profession. Let me tell you–it’s a thankless, exasperating job, which was emotionally exhausting, inappropriately driven by politics, and the pay is terrible–but it DEFINED me. It was a conversation starter. People always ask “What do you do for a living?” and you know what–teacher is a great response. It’s respectable to most, it’s noticeably difficult to other parents and most people give you “props” saying they couldn’t imagine teaching hormonal middle schoolers.
NOW when people ask me what I do for a living, I say I’m a Stay-at-Home Mom and then I somehow think I can qualify that by saying I USED to be a middle school English Teacher? Ugh-I want to shake myself just for acknowledging that to you. I feel like a LOSER–and why? Because my identity was wrapped up in being a teacher and now it’s wrapped up in JUST being a parent. Ugh–I want to shake myself again–seriously, do you even hear yourself, Kayla?
Sometimes I wish I lived during a different era–being a Stay-at-Home Mom was kind of the norm in the 50s and 60s no? It would be easier to explain my position and my choices. Then, I consider the fact that I am no housewife–in fact, I am downright TERRIBLE at keeping my house clean and honestly that’s out of pure lazy-ness. I seriously stink at being a housewife. (Note: We are talking not vacuuming every day and dishes in the sink–not Hoarders filth).
Then, I think–maybe I’d be a great country club mom–play tennis in the morning with my gal pals, pick up the kids at school and drive them to their various activities, come home to a clean house (thanks to the housekeeper) and then THINK about preparing a delicious meal? Yeah, that would be the life.
Then, I have THIS crazy thought. If being a mom is who I am, why do we not have a house full of kids? At least then, I would feel like it really was my full-time job and “purpose” in life. As if that would make this identity crisis any better? Quick–someone SLAP ME PLEASE!
So what the heck does this all mean? A teacher of mine once told me to think, and then think about why you think the way you do. Essentially, reflect on your thoughts and find bigger meaning in them. Well, aside from a bunch of blabber about me having an identity crisis–I am wondering about how self-value and how others assign value is very much linked to professions. Before becoming a mom, I thought stay-at-home mom’s were either uneducated or their husband’s were rich. (I know *scoff* how ignorant). Now I know it’s a choice (I am neither uneducated, nor am I married to a rich man) and for some, like me, not an easy one.
People always ask me WHEN I will be returning to work—as if I do NOT have an option. I’ve gotten over that initial awkwardness of saying not any time soon—but seriously people quit asking me! I feel like somehow it’s not okay for me to not want to return to work–like I have to justify that feeling in some way. I know in my heart of hearts, that I do not want to go back to work–I want to raise my child(ren) and run my household–but is that enough? Why can’t that be enough for me? Am I letting societal norms get into my head? I feel like the anti-Christ of Feminism. I feel that I am not contributing enough to my household because I get to stay home every day. I feel guilty that all the pressure is on my husband. I feel guilty that I have thousands of dollars in debt for a degree that I may never use again. When my children are in school, then what will my purpose be? And after that, once they are raised and gone from home? Is it okay to just be “taken care of” for the rest of my life?
Why is self-worth and value tied to a paycheck? Why is it tied to a “job”? Think about it—when someone tells you their job or profession—don’t you make immediate assumptions about the kind of person they are? Maybe we need to knock that off. I know I certainly do.
I’m still settling in to my new identity as a “kept” woman–and it’s a struggle for me to handle our finances and realize that we may not have the things that others have or the “stuff”–and it may be a while until we can finally purchase a home. I am still coming to terms with the fact that my choice to stay home will change the course of my self-authored 5 Year Plan. Maybe that’s why I feel so uncomfortable about not contributing financially. While I’m not sure what the future holds, I do know that, right now, staying home agrees with me, staying home agrees with my son and staying home agrees with my husband—so really who else’s opinions matter? It works for our family so who am I to doubt it?
Please tell me I’m not the only Mama out there struggling with this. Since being a stay-at-home mom I’ve met A LOT of highly educated, amazing women who CHOOSE to stay home—are any of you out there? Do any of you feel the same way? Will it get easier?
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