I sometimes feel like being "just a mom" (and I hate that phrase) is not enough. I don't know if it's just the area I live in, or if it's the people I know, or if it's society creeping this thought into my life. Maybe it's a combination of all.
As you may know, I quit my teaching job well before we ever received Megan (but that's another story), in anticipation of being a parent. Then, when we didn't receive a baby right away I started teaching piano lessons. I continued to teach piano lessons until this past May, when Megan was 7 months old. I feel like other people think I should still be teaching. And maybe I feel a little bit of guilt because of it.
My reasons for quitting? Well, the reason I told everyone is that Megan was just getting too hard to manage. She had previously slept through almost all lessons, but, in April, started to change her schedule on me, making it difficult for me to teach. In addition, when she was awake she was a major distraction to my students. All of this is true.
But, the main reason I quit? I wanted to be "just a mom." Sure, I could have paid a babysitter. Sure, I could have arranged to have her Nana watch her every day. Sure, I could have kept teaching (I really liked it) and contributed money to our family. But, I didn't want to do that kind of work. I wanted to be something else. I wanted to give all my time to Megan, and to being a good wife.
Now, here's where the conflict sets in. Since my youth, I have always seen myself being a certain kind of mom. The kind of mom that stays home with her kids, the kind of mom that runs the kiddos to piano lessons and sports and picks them up from after-school activities. I always figured I'd have a bunch of kids together and, naturally, they would need me every moment of every day.
Now that I just have ONE (for now), part of me says, "you're not a full-time mom. Megan sleeps 3-4 hours a day, so you're really only a part-time mom." And then I feel GUILTY. I feel guilty that I'm not still working, and I feel guilty that I'm not contributing money to our home, when, maybe, I could. I feel guilty that I'm not doing-it-all. I feel guilty that I'm not one of those mommies out there who holds a full or part-time job and still manages to not send her kids to day care. I feel guilty when I see all the working moms out there and feel like they look down on me because I don't "do" anything. Not that I care what they think. Or maybe I do.
The thing that began my head spinning about this was actually a church event this summer. My stake puts on this thing called "Women's Retreat," which is this really wonderful experience with motivating speakers and uplifting messages and beautiful music, located in the mountains close by. As I went to these classes, and listened to these speakers, I noticed something. I noticed that, with only two exceptions (one class hosted by two ladies from my ward) that all the speakers were women with careers. These women were phenomenal. They were amazing. They had kids AND a career. They had a loving marriage AND a career. They had time to prepare a 1 1/2-hour class, AND they had a career. As uplifting as the experience was, it made me think that I should.... have a job. If I had a job, then I would have something to offer. And, when people ask me "what I do" I can say I "do" something, and they'll respect me for it.
Since when did being "just a mom" become less-than-best? Our church teaches that women belong in the home, rearing the children, and that the man is to provide for the family (see it here). Our church teaches the beauty of motherhood, and stresses how important it is to nurture our sweet little children. We are reminded again and again of our role in the Gospel and on the earth. We are told of the noble calling of being a mother. We are encouraged to stay home if we can. Why, then, do I feel pressure to DO more? Why do I feel like being a stay-at-home-mother isn't good enough? Why do I feel this way, even within the church, when I know being at home is noble and wonderful and it is what I should be doing?
It's easy to say that it's a sacrifice to be a working mother, for obvious reasons. But, I ask this: isn't it yet a sacrifice not to work, and not to make more money, when you could easily do so? Is it not a sacrifice to give that up? I have my dream job. I dreamt about being a mother since I was young, and now that I am finally living my dream, why do I feel pressure to give up on my dream? Why do I feel like I should have a career?
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle from our Church, said it best when he gave a talk called Good, Better, Best. I feel that, for me, working would be good, but staying home is best. Ah. I guess I'm attempting to validate myself.
I want being-a-stay-at-home-mom to be good enough. I don't want to work. I want to be home. I want my work to be my home. I want my work to be my kids. I want my work to only be bringing up my children to know their Savior and to raise them to love the Gospel.
Why is that not enough?