I decided to make breakfast for me and Kiddo this morning—her favorite, French toast, and I added strawberries. She sat down, and said, “Thank you so much, Momma! You didn’t have to do this!”
It hit me all of a sudden, when I replied, “I know. I do this because I want to—all of it.”
I could go back into bartending—work late nights and deal with the chaos night life again. I could find Kiddo a babysitter, and get back into restaurant management, work long hours and make my own money. I could go to school full-time, and work towards my other dream career as a marriage counselor, and be too busy studying and too stressed over exams to care about how clean the bathroom is.
The fact is that I choose to be a housewife and mother.
I was telling Kiddo about how I didn’t really have my mother in my life after age five. This last year I’ve have to learn how to be a mom, without any past experience to rely on. Part of me regrets that I missed out on those first few years while I was with her father. I supported the whole family, working full-time. He stayed home and took her to the beach and the park and did arts and crafts with her. Essentially I was the “father” and he was the “Mommy” for a really long time.
The thing that I told Kiddo was that as much as I would like to get back that time with her, I know that I have very few memories before the age of seven or eight. It was about the third grade when the lack of my mother’s presence really became an issue in my life. Kiddo has been with me now, full-time and in “Mommy Mode” for just over a year. I feel like I stepped up at exactly the right time to make a difference for her. There is more joy in that, than any paycheck could measure.
So often over the last five years as an Army Wife, without a job of my own for so much of the time, I have asked myself, “What am I doing with MY life?”
Being Hubby’s support has always been a job in my eyes, and a tackle it as such. I am proud of the little things like my daily packed lunches with homemade pudding cups, and the boot shines I used to do for him when he was exhausted and would fall asleep on the couch before doing it himself. I am proud of myself for making it through the really tough times apart, and being the one to demand that WE make things better for US, even when it was just the two of us.
The day that Kiddo thanked me for keeping out family together, I realized just how much this all means to her.
It dawned on me that when I have asked, “What am I doing with MY life?” I was listening to the outside world and a culture that expects not only equality for women, but in a way tells us that we are not “real women” if we do not make our own money and have our Own Life. We are NOT told to stop having babies and getting married, but we are told to have a career of our own on top of the things that some of us naturally progress towards. We are told that we must “have it all” to be successful.
At the same time, men are still often (but not always) allowed to simply go to work and come home with little responsibility in the home beyond the garage-centered chores of yard work and vehicle tinkering.
Though the roles of “modern men” have expanded into the realm of “stay-at-home Daddies” and the need to be more “emotionally supportive” of their wives it simply does not appear that as much is expected of them as of women in our society.
It seems that our women’s quest for equality has become a forced juggling act where we are not only wives and mothers, but career-driven worker bees as well. Being simply one or the other is seldom seen as “enough” in our consumer-driven culture. Keeping up with the Jones’ has become nearly impossible without sacrificing what used to be the basis for all of it: FAMILY.
When I asked myself, over French toast and strawberries, “What am I doing with my life?” The answer was sitting across the table thanking me for just being her MOM.