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Friday, May 21, 2010

You're Just A Mommy

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Country-Fried Mama is a transplanted Yankee raising two girls in the deep, deep, DEEP South. Visit her blog at www.countryfriedmama.com and follow her on Twitter @countryfried.

When my husband first went back to work after an unfortunate ankle incident, my girls and I ferried him there so he wouldn’t get busted for driving under the influence of narcotics.

My daughter, Miss D., has since been asking lots of questions about what her dad does in that big building, and she recently asked me what my job is.

“I’m a mommy and a teacher,” I said.

“No, you’re just a mommy,” said Miss D.

I sighed, counted to five, and tried not to freak out.

Some context: I never considered myself the stay-at-home type. Before Miss D. was born, my husband and I both assumed I would go back to work. I don’t remember even discussing other possibilities. But once my maternity leave ended and I went back to my job as a high school English teacher, both my husband and I found that leaving Miss D. at daycare everyday was painful.

I started to feel desperate about her being there. It was a really wonderful daycare, but all I could think about every day was that I was spending my time with other people’s children instead of my own sweet baby. I felt like I was doing a crummy job as a teacher and a crummy job as a mommy. I was beyond relieved when my husband got a job in a more affordable part of the country and I could plunge into mommyhood full time.

I am still relieved. I would not trade being at home with my girls for anything, and yet…the world seems very small on some days.

So when Miss D. said, “you’re just a mommy,” I felt a little sick. When I had to leave her each day to work, I soothed my guilt with the idea that at least she would grow up knowing that mommies have important careers, too. I still want her to know that.

So I tried to explain that the laptop permanently attached to my body is not just for online mah-jongg, which she is inexplicably interested in. “I teach classes on the computer,” I told her. “When you sleep, I’m a teacher.”

“No,” said Miss D., who gets her stubborn streak from me. “You’re just a mommy.”


I’m guessing that anyone who reads this knows there should be no “just” in front of “mommy.” Being a mommy is important. I know that. I care far more about the measurable outcomes of my performance as Mommy than I ever did for any job outside my house. That’s the big picture.

The little picture is that my peanut-butter-sandwich-making, laundry-folding, spit-up-cleaning, Little-Einsteins-watching days are not always fulfilling and I fear my brain might be turning to mush.

I was on my hands and knees under the kitchen table yesterday scrubbing my baseboards, an activity I don’t recall ever performing when I worked full-time, when I had an almost uncontrollable urge to start screaming.

“I have a Master’s degree!” I wanted to yell, but I didn’t want to scare the baby.

I am not housebound. I go to playgroup. I go to book club. I go to the grocery store more often than I would like. But sometimes, my world seems uncomfortably small. Is it shrinking?

Someone should alert Al Gore.


YogaSavy said...

Director of Home economics! that is what my father in law used to call me... You are more than "just a mommy"

Rachel said...

From another stay at home mommy I applaude you. I have been told countless times by both men and women that being a stay at home mom is harder than any career out there! So yeah, our brains are turning to mush but at the end of the day..week...months...years...when others are retiring and looking at where their Masters degree got them, I can guarantee they won't feel as fulfilled as we do when we are looking at our "Masters" degree surrounded by our kids, their kids, and so on. At least that is what I've been told by those who've walked in our shoes so I'm holding onto that with both hands. :D

My father who is well into his 70's now told me a few years ago. Cars rust, bodies sag and bag, careers are temporary so if this is what we fill up our lives with, later on in life during those "golden years" we are going to be awfully lonely. He said he's never regretted having a large family especially as he is older. He's retired and all of the things that seemed important when he was younger, he is so glad he kept his focus on our family because he is surrounded by us all now and he says he couldn't be happier.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, hang in there. There are many, like you, who feel like your world is shrinking but give it a few years and I think we'll find that it is going to grow and grow and grow as our children grow.

Chrissy said...

why do kids always say " just a mom"? I tell u until they are mom's/dad's they will know its one of the most toughest jobs.. rewarding yes, its a 24/7 job that lasts a lifetime... the only one your kid can call at all hours as well as get sick at all hours and at any age...I've been thrown up on, given the evil eye and have had a door slammed ... Wonder how many can fill the bill of MOM?
(and no I am not mad, just surprised at the endurance I have, lol)

PMC said...

oh, i really appreciate this post. i love how you describe your world as being very small some days. oh, i know that feeling.

i am going to find myself sitting at a large table at come holiday dinner and i will look around at all the faces of my children and their families and i will know just how large my world has become. eternity. right there at the dining room table.

thank you for writing. and teaching. and being 'just a mommy'!!!

The Empress said...

What better title?

I've wished to be called that all my life, I love it.

You know, we all know, it's where we need to be in this too short season of life.

With 2 teenagers, I can tell you, I wouldn't trade my minutes with them for the world. For the world.

Anaise said...

My guess is that she was telling you--no, asserting--what she felt was most important about you. She dismissed your teaching work (done outside of her personal experience) as unimportant to her, because it is unimportant to her--right now. Her little psyche only needs a mommy--not a mommy who is also a teacher in a world that is utterly foreign to her.

And I find that my brain is taxed far more as a mommy than it ever was when I was working in the "outside world."

You're using that master's degree and all the skills you acquired along the way to getting it in the making of your home . . . or you could be . . . but I'm guessing that you are.

"Just a mommy"--poetry, pure poetry. It makes my heart happy to hear that.

Keep up the good work! The world needs mommies!

countryfriedmama said...

Thank you for the thoughtful, considered comments. What a wonderful community this is!

Teachinfourth said...

'Just a'?

I don't think that title should ever be attached to the name of mother…

She does far too much.

Anonymous said...

I admire everyone who does the mom thing. I can barely do it for my french bulldog, so I have no idea how you guys manage with everything it entails! Well done! When your world feels small, I hope it helps to realize you are leaving a big giant mark on the world with all the influence you will have through your kids.

Stacia said...

As a stay-at-home mom, I, too, often feel my brain turning to mush and want to shout my "other" qualifications from the rooftop. I never have cleaned my baseboards though ... =>

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