In my last post about the insecure housewife, I mentioned that I don’t always feel particularly competent as a house manager. I also see how hard my husband works at his job and wonder if I should help bring in income too, especially since I think I would be fairly capable as an attorney (even part time), and I could pay someone to do the things I’m not so good at at home.
Last night, I had a dream that I walked through my old law school library, and there at one desk, I saw a bunch of my classmates from Carbon High. They were all first year law students, studying their brains out, and I thought, “What have I been doing with my degree? Has it just been a waste?”
What is especially tempting is that I would be in a place where I could see my success measured again. I see my husband’s success measured all the time. He gets bonuses, raises, promotions, encouragement from his boss, but it’s harder for a mom who stays at home with her kids to see this.
In fact, I have to watch this because it’s easy too see where I’m failing. Maybe I just finished helping my son with his Beethoven sonata or feeding my other son hundreds of tennis balls, but when I walk into the kitchen and see a hundred things that need to be put away, I can’t help but feel that I’m not quite up to par.
Yes, I admit there seems to be quite a shortage around my house when it comes to odes to mother. Instead, I hear things like, “You don’t know anything,” or “Nobody’s mom makes them do that,” or “Yeah, that’s how they used to do it in the eighties.” So not only am I clueless, but I am totally outdated.
I get only groans when I get creative and make a salmon kale salad.
I get a lot of whining when I tell my son that it’s time for us to practice piano.
And when I suggest a ½ hour of reading a day, two of my boys stage a complete revolt.
So why am I here? Why don’t I get maybe even part time job helping immigrants or drafting wills? A long long time ago, I received the highest grade in my advanced estate planning class at law school. I forgot about that. Maybe I should go to work. And maybe I will in a few years when my youngest starts first grade.
But for now, I’m here. Why? Because I have to remind myself that not everything is about money and praise and efficiency.
And anyway how could I possibly quantify what I do? How do you value a hug? A healthy meal? A talk with a counselor about your child’s grades? A trip back to the store to return something your child has stolen? A pep talk with your son, telling him he’s not going to give up just because he’s missed his last twenty serves?
I’m not saying that working mothers don’t have these experiences as well, but every family is different, and I know that for right now, I need to be here.
Throughout the day there is a quiet assurance that comes at times that makes me feel good about what I am doing.
It comes when I hug my little girl after she’s taken a spill.
It comes when I bundle my children up and take them to the park even in January because it’s warmed up to 35 degrees.
It comes when I seem them so happy, sliding down the slide, their feet crunching on snow when they reach the bottom.
It comes when my two little ones fight over who can sit on my lap.
It comes when I’ve read Hound of the Baskervilles with my son, explaining the difficult parts and seeing that he’s actually get interested in the book.
It comes when Davy exclaims, “This is the best dinner ever!” even if it just is sweet potato fries from Costco.
It comes when my tired husband comes home and the table is set and dinner is waiting for him.
It comes when my son and I have worked over and over again on a difficult musical passage and he finally can play it.
Maybe I’m not being honored at awards ceremonies or actually asked for my opinion on anything, and in the grand scheme of things, maybe I don’t even feel the relevant, but there’s that quiet voice inside of me, telling me I’m doing better than I think I am.
What things make it hard for you to be a mother?
Where have you seen your greatest payoffs?
I would love to hear from you!