Tuesday, January 17

It Takes a Village

I am a working mom now. I never thought I would ever see the end of being a stay-at-home mom. The never-ending diapers, sleepless nights, burping and feeding babies every hour. Honestly, I only dreamed of wearing clothes that were not covered in spit-up. 
I get dressed most mornings in nice clothes rather than just sweats. I have to be at a certain place at a certain time, I have co-workers, and I GET A PAY CHEQUE! It's great! Wearing make-up every day, combing my hair, and actually feeling pretty again were things my friends and I talked about as if they were impossible fairy tales. But here I am.

But while I was driving home after the morning show, I was suddenly and mysteriously awash with guilt. It vanished as quickly as it came and I don't really know what caused it. 

I was thinking about Nora and, all of a sudden, I felt a small twinge of guilt about her being at my friend's house today. Until recently, I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom. I felt that was best while our family was young. For years, I have prided myself on being a homemaker and, shamefully, I will admit that I have judged other women as lesser for not doing the same. 

I will even admit that once, while driving home and passing the local daycare, my children asked if they could go to daycare because they wanted to play in the brightly coloured and fun-looking playground. I am actually sad now that they could not go. When they asked why they couldn't, I answered, "Because mommies who don't love their children as much take them to places like that."

To this day, that is the single most horrible and appalling thing that has ever come from my lips, and I apologize publicly to all of my dear sisters for this. I am truly and deeply sorry for what I said to my children that day. It was wrong, very very wrong.

What of this guilt I felt today about working? Some will anxiously jump in and say, "You feel guilt about working because it's more important and better to stay home." Some would even go as far to say it's "wrong" to work out of the home. And those opinions are exactly why I am writing this. Because I have been on both sides of this fence, I now want to share my newfound perspective. 

Since I started working at the radio station, I have felt guilt a few times here and there about poor Nora being dropped off at a friend's house for a few hours while I go to a staff meeting, or attend a training day with Chris. I have felt guilt here and there when my laundry is piled on the floor downstairs or when my bathroom is not super clean. I have also felt guilt about working when my kids and I are eating KD. Working moms feel guilt.

But here's the thing: When I was a stay-at-home mom, I would feel guilt about going out of the house to see a movie with my girlfriends. I would feel guilt about spending money on a new shirt even when I really needed one. I would feel guilt about being away from "my job" when I would go to the gym to work out. I even remember feeling guilt about going out for dinner with girlfriends so we would only order the least expensive appy. It was ridiculousness-- complete and utter ridiculousness. 

Women will feel guilt no matter what we do. It's culturally ingrained. It's like we will sniff out guilt and make it ours even when there is no logical reason to feel it. And there is no logical reason for it. Mothering is hard and however we can do it well, whatever it takes for us to do that, that's the best way. 

My children are very lucky kids. Especially Nora. Not only does she have a mother who adores her and loves to teach her things, she has my sweet neighbour Keira who, at the drop of a hat, takes Nora and loves her unconditionally. She has my friend Melanie, who is probably the least selfish woman I know, to care for her some days. Nora also has my friend Charity who plays and dotes upon her. Charity might very well be the kindest women I know. Then, if that was not enough, Nora has Sam who cares for her and loves her like her own. It's almost like she is Nora's second mommy. And of course, Grandma Diane, who loves so perfectly that everyone feels special when around her. 

I am so grateful for this group of women who are helping me raise this little girl and who love both Nora and I. I now understand the old adage, "It takes a village."

I have been on both sides of this mothering fence, and neither are easy, but they can both be so very wonderful. 

Today:

I am grateful for my village of strong women. I was raised by one, I am one, I have one, and I am surrounded by them. 

I am grateful for caffeine. 

I am grateful for sleep. 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Cathy comics rifled on guilt, even naming the four guilt groups: food, love, mom, and work. At first you chuckle, but it really is that ingrained.

It's good to see that you have such a strong support system. We are all rooting for you. Take care and God bless.

Tanya said...

Don't beat yourself up for the past. Sometimes things happen in life that will change our points of view. All you can do is chalk it up to experience, apologize for any wrong doing and move on.

Mom guilt does seem inevitable hey? I have it to.

Anonymous said...

OMG you win the mother of the century award for not only admitting the "comment" you said to your children but THAT is the only bad thing you said to your kids. Wow I tell them the police are coming to get them if they don't behave, or I am sending them to an all boys school, or ice cream at night gives you nightmares - the list goes on and on. But thanks for the apology. Never mistakes in life - only lessons!

Natasha said...

The comment you made to your children about moms who put their kids in daycare really was heinous. And I think I made basically the same comments to my kids. We were young and stupid. Now our challenge is to be patient with other stupid people and show them a better way of thinking and regarding each other.

Really proud of you for being so honest.

You ONLY feel guilt about the work thing because you've been told a bazillion times to feel guilty. Just like women who are told by their parents or schoolyard bullies or their abusive spouse that they are ugly struggle to see themselves as attractive, even if they genuinely are! There's no special supernaturalism taking place here. It's just basic psychology. If you can hijack someone's brain in a couple of days (Stockholm Syndrome), imagine what years of repetition of a single message does.

You, Jo, have the strength of mind to overcome all that binary, simple-minded BS. And you will. Baby steps.

P.S. My captcha was "hodig". I dig hos!

Natasha said...

Anon, she didn't say it was the only bad comment she's made to her kids. She said it was the worst. Slight difference there. :-)