Thursday, March 25

Turn and Pivot

While reading Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families, I found a familiar moment mentioned in several essays. It's the dead spot in the conversation after meeting someone and asking each other what we "do."

"I'm home with my kids," I say. "Oh that's nice/great/important," they say. And then ... there is nothing else to say. Turn and pivot.

One writer/mom, Page Evans, found herself at a Washington, D.C., party. "'I'm basically a stay-at-home mom,' she tells a fifty-something man next to her.
'Oh, well, that's such an important job. Kids grow up so fast, don't they?'
'Yeah, they do,' she says.
And that's the end of it. Turn and pivot.
But wait. Wait! Don't you want to know what I think about what's going on in the world? I want to scream out. I've spent the past seven years trying to improve my mind, to prove that I'm more than "just a mom." I see more plays, read more op-eds, take classes, visit museums. ... Driving car pool and discussing favorite food groups is not all I'm about. Yes, I'll gladly discuss those things, but I don't want to be defined by them."

Another writer/mom, Catherine Clifford, writes, "I don't understand why taking care of one's own children is considered hopelessly tedious or brain-deadening. I know well how quickly a new cocktail-party acquaintence needs a fresh drink when he finds out I'm a stay-at-home mother. I find it odd that I'd generate far more interest if I said I raised dogs or horses or chinchillas, but saying, in effect, 'I raise human beings,' is a huge yawn.
It might, in fact, be that boring if child care were simply a series of pink-collar tasks -- bathe, dress, feed, repeat. But observing and participating in a little Homo sapien's development is fascinating to me. Furthermore, being a mother isn't just a 'job' any more than being a wife or daughter is; it's a relationship."

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