It’s Not Always All About Me Anymore
I have skied the Austrian Alps and swam the shores of Phuket. I have scaled Mt Etna and bicycled the Loire valley. I have danced in communist Hungary and slept under the starry skies in Venice. I salsa 'd in Madrid and skated in Stockholm city center. I have seen the Northern lights and sailed down the Nile. I have worked the fashion weeks of Paris, London and Milan and have had the honor of meeting everyone from athletes to dignitaries.
However the most fulfilled I have ever felt is when I became a mother, something so many woman today take for granted. Yes I can already hear the outraged cries from Gloria Steinam and NOW. Helen Reddy is pondering did she Not listen to the lyrics of "I AM WOMAN" But I stand by my claim- that raising a child is the most important gift we have been bestowed. Therefore should be our main priority. Yet In 2012 I am constantly amazed at how many of us choose to pass this awesome opportunity off to people who are barely adults themselves, or at the very least can't wait the 4-5 years to do this until the child is of school age. Our excuse, as if there is one,is that its our duty to define ourselves outside of the parameters of the traditional mother and wife.
Let me preface this by stating that I am all too aware that it is indeed a fact that in todays economic climate many of us must work to put a roof over our heads. I know from where I speak, I am a divorced mom , who was abandoned by her husband and exist without any support from my sons father. I have gone from living a cosmopolitan life abroad to residing in a more humble suburban setting. Perusing the ethnic food aisle at Guenardi's, is as exotic as my life gets these days. However I am confident that the sacrifices I am making today in order to be a daily part of my sons life, possesses far more value than anything I can purchase off of net-a-porter. If we are perfectly frank here, many of those woman adorned in their Tory Burch tennis outfits and Gucci sandals , dropping their precious cargo off at daycare, look a far cry from being one step away from standing in the breadlines. It is doubtful that their haste is the result of their need to head straight to hard working minimum pay jobs at Walmart. With a simple blow of a kiss and a small wave of the hand they are dismissing the one true thing in their lives as though they were just another accessory in their status wardrobe.
We all need to fulfill our own needs at times. It is necessary to maintain a sense of sanity. Putting yourself first is not negligent when it is the exception not the rule. What I have difficulty rationalizing though is the argument that " I am doing ,(fill in appropriate excuse)… to show my child there are other options in life". This tends to be somewhat self serving to placate one's own inner guilt. If this were truly the case how was it possible that my stay at home mom managed to produce 3 lawyers, one physical therapist and one marketing executive. Not one of us doubted what we could achieve because she was there to greet us everyday after school with homemade chocolate chip cookies. You cannot have it all without Something or rather someone ultimately suffering. It's a safe bet my son is not going to say "gee mom I am really glad you stayed late at the office again" or "so thrilled you had yet another day at the spa" He will remember the times I preferred to take him for walks around the neighborhood, the trips to the playground, the times to be there to bandage his scraped knees, cheer his first home run, laugh at his silly jokes, dry his tears and merely be a presence in his everyday life.
I am not contending that we have to stop being women because we have reproduced but our goal should be to shape our lives around our children rather than the other way around. This expendable mentality is certainly not exclusive to women who choose a full time career outside of the house. Many of those who claim to be "stay at home moms" merely do so in name only. They leave the monumental task of child rearing to their battalion of domestic help. I have become quite friendly with their international roster of nannies, while accompanying my son to our mommy and me groups.
A friend once countered that its easy for me to make this choice since I already had the luxury of experiencing so much and am not "nagged by those what ifs.". But it's quite the opposite, simply put, as a result of knowing that there is a world outside of runny noses, spongebob squarepants and messy diapers, my yearning to go back to other side tends to be stronger.
Conversely, my mother was a master home maker. She graduated high school, married and after the all to early death of my father, she was left to raise 5 children alone. She never complained nor to my knowledge did she ever wax nostalgic about what other path her life could have taken. She never resented us nor made us doubt that we were her top priority. My mother believes that her choice to stay at home with us was actually easier because she knew of nothing else. In those days you either married became a nun or a teacher. The fact that we today have more doors open to us and greater opportunities actually can be a deterrent when faced with that irreplaceable decision to remain at home with our children. I admire the woman who used to run the boardroom but now opts to be the director of her home, For she knows true sacrifice.
It is more challenging these days, but I still find time to do activities that keep my brain from becoming mush. I opt now to do freelance marketing work. So instead of my former 60+ hr office week, I am now consumed by a 168 hr mom week. Yes my financial situation has drastically changed. My wardrobe is now more the Jaclyn Smith collection rather than Stella McCartney, but that suits me just fine. The toothless smiles, jam filled kisses and witnessing alex's unique personality taking hold more than makes up for the material losses.
My message is not meant to be preachy. I have no soapbox on which I stand. Believe me I am flawed and have made some rather unwise decisions in my 40 yrs. However What I do know is that life is short, childhoods can never have a do-over and that the only way for us to guarantee a better future- is to make sure we take an active role in the moral, social, fiscal and emotional rearing of our offspring. Its not rocket science folks. We can be certain that the more time and emphasis we place on our sons and daughters as a whole, the greater the chance we have in establishing the basic foundation that shape their thought and actions.
If a parent chooses to shirk their God given rights and continually hands off this responsibility to a third party, what in essence does that teach? We already have a society where there is self checkout, instant message banking and sympathy e-cards. I prefer to choose to live in a place where the hugs and kisses are of flesh and blood rather than text messaged or tweeted.