Good Saturday Morning! I am up way too early, due to the fact that I have a kindergartner who does not EVER want to get up early on school days, but is up before the sun on weekends, because, well… apparently he likes to torture his momma. This is a part of motherhood that, after fifteen years, I have embraced. Well, maybe not embraced, but I no longer loathe his wake-up pokes the way I loathe my alarm clock. So, I wake up early, I zombie-shuffle around the house with coffee in hand, and I write while he watches T.V. or plays. Believe it or not, my whole first novel was written before he started school, so I have learned how to write while Jake and the Neverland Pirates blasts in the other room, or he battles imaginary manticores under the table where I am typing. It’s all good.
But I digress. What I want to talk about this morning is something that I saw a couple of days ago that has been driving me crazy. I don’t know if this is a world or nationwide trend, but in our neck of the woods, a good half of all cars now have these stick-figure family window decals that show your family makeup. Some are zombies and some are storm troopers, but most are just stick people. There are mom and dad and their five kiddos, or husband and wife and a puppy. I’ve seen single mom with a couple kids, and a few times, I’ve even seen two moms, or two dads, and their babies, which makes my heart feel happy. It wasn’t that long ago that such families would not have felt safe showing their true family makeup publicly, and I am glad to live on the planet when we are making forward progress, at least on this front.
Anyway, the stickers. They’re cute, I guess, and I can see the appeal, but twice this week, I saw something that really bugged me. A lot of the stick-figure families have their hobbies represented as well, which is cool. Be proud of what you love. (Wil Wheaton has an awesome bit about loving what you love, no matter how “geeky” it is, which is another post, entirely, but still…)
So the stick figure families that I saw:
Dad is a bowler, Daughter is a basketball player, Son is a baseball player, Mom is a… nothing?
I’ve seen it several times now. Dad has a hobby. Kids have hobbies. Mom is just… mom. And that’s alright, I mean, being mom is a pretty great job, but it makes me sad. Why do we, as moms, fail to recognize ourselves as something separate from being a mother? Moms have hobbies, don’t they? I mean, I am a mom. I read. I enjoy football, and a rousing tabletop RPG. And I know that other moms have hobbies, too, but somehow, we convince ourselves that what we like is trivial, which is, quite plainly, bullshit.
I doubt that many people out there would argue, being a mom is a pretty thankless job. Of course, the intrinsic rewards are amazing, but the pay is shit. And speaking of shit… being a mom is at least 21.4% actual poop for the first few years. Sure, there’s joy and overwhelming love and amazing stuff, too, but there is a lot of poop.
As a mom, you do the same thing, everyday. You wash the dishes and the laundry, everyday. You pick up the dirty socks and hang up the coat, everyday. You cook and you chauffeur and you tutor and you do whatever it is at your house that falls under mom’s jurisdiction, everyday. (And you clean up the poop. Always, always the poop.) And a lot of us work elsewhere, too. It’s a lot to be responsible for, and even if you have the greatest kids in the world (Which we all do, don’t we?), they still aren’t going to appreciate the magnitude of the mountain you climb, everyday. And even if you are married to a sensitive, hardworking and effusive spouse, they still, probably have no idea how much work you do. It is a mom-fact, and by the time your firstborn is a month old, you’ve figured this out. This is normal, and this is acceptable.
What isn’t acceptable is that even though your kids and your partner don’t always see past the hard work to the person that you are, YOU STILL SHOULD! Yes, it is hard to be a mom and still have a life. Yes, it is difficult to separate yourself from mom-duties and responsibilities and that pile of clean laundry that has been on the couch for so long that the cat has now made it a den and you have to rewash it, just to get rid of the hair. I get that. I have the same problem.
But are we really doing our kids a favor, especially our daughters, by donating our personalities with the bi-annual charitable bags of outgrown clothes?
I don’t know the answer. I don’t know if there is any advice that will be globally helpful, here. But every living soul deserves to love DOING something, whether it be crafting or reading or playing a sport or drinking wine. Yup, I’d rather I saw a pandemic of lush-mom stick-figures than the plethora of “I’m-just-happy-being-mom” Mom’s that I’ve seen, lately.
I think mothers tend to have an epidemic of guilt and too many feelings of inadequacy, as a species, and we believe that unless every moment of every day is dedicated to caring for our families in one way or another, we are failures. We aren’t failures, not by a long shot. Rather, we are becoming invisible, and the very first person who fails to see us, is ourselves.
We can do better than this, women. I mean, we are moms. We can make a castle out of a cardboard box and two tin cans. We can whip up cupcakes an hour before school because someone forgot to tell us that they volunteered to bring a treat. We can balance work and eighteen different schedules and a million other things, at once. We are superwomen. How hard is it to remember how awesome we really are?