Lately I’ve been having a conflict of the heart. It seems all my daughter talks about is A) right now she is in fact a princess and B) when she gets big she’ll get married and have lots of babies and they won’t die and she’ll be a mommy. This breaks my heart for obvious and not so obvious reasons. The fact that she throws in “and they won’t die” is very sad. She knows that we recently lost a pregnancy, and so that all by itself…sucks. But what about her ambition? Her brother, the same exact age, isn’t gearing up to be a dad. He’s going to be a Texas Ranger. A Fireman. Own a flock of dinosaurs. They’re only four (well….just one more week and they will be!). I understand that she can’t possibly understand all the opportunity in the world. But it seems that right now she believes that men go out into the world, and mommies stay home. She tells me when she’s bigger than me she’ll get to wash the windows. When she’s bigger than me she’ll cook all the dinner. When she’s bigger than me she’ll wash the clothes. (I’m really hoping she’s bigger than me soon…I get tired!) And why does it bother me? This is really about me…not her.
Being a wife and a mother is what I want to be. I met my husband before I graduated high school and from then on I wasn’t going anywhere but where he was. I wanted to join to Peace Corps. I wanted to maybe be a lawyer or psychiatrist. But now, if I can be with them, no amount of money in the world is worth missing it. Which is insane, because at least half of that time they make me nuts. I’m not particularly good at it. I’m not the mom and the wife I want to be by my standard of what that should look like. My house should always be clean. My kids should be super well-behaved, generally happy, and healthy. My husband should feel valued and loved and never feel less than attended to. I have some work to do. But here lately I can’t help but wonder if my parents are disappointed by my decision to not pursue things of a more academic nature. I remember when my oldest was a baby my dad said something along the lines, “look at you all attentive. I never thought I’d see you taking care of a baby.” I was bothered by it, like maybe it just wasn’t in my head…like I really wasn’t geared to be a mom. The reality was that I just before then didn’t seem inclined to want kids. I was the little girl, the teenager, that was going to do it all. I was going to change the world. I honestly can’t remember once saying, “I’m going to be a mom someday.” Or, “When I’m married I’m going to live on farm.” I would’ve laughed if someone had suggested it! There’s nothing wrong with this path, and I’m sorry ladies, but I truly feel this is where a mom should be: With her kids so long as they are kids. I am not a feminist. In my ideal world a man’s wages would be high enough that women could afford to raise their children without working away from home. Their husbands would come home to a clean house, a happy family and dinner on the table. When the kids were grown all the woman would get together and…I don’t know…quilt or something. Yes, a 1950’s commercial. Is that so bad? What does God want for a family? What roles do a husband and wife play and has that balance been upset by women taking on stronger roles in the workforce? And why does it feel so hard to stay home with your kids? I mean hard. It feels exhausting. It feels not near as rewarding as I thought it would be. But then at the same time like nothing else would be more rewarding. I don’t think I’ll ever look back and say, “Sure wish I’d made more money and not been there when they needed me.” Shouldn’t it be enough for me if my daughter would have the same goal? And is it a cop-out? There are plenty of wonderful mothers who go to work everyday. Do I just not want to work? I honestly don’t know how women hold it all together working and raising kids. I don’t feel like there’s enough time now! What would it be if I were gone everyday? You’d have to kick paths to walk through the house! And what do you do when your kids are sick and who gets them on the bus? Who takes them to the doctor or makes them “sick” tea? Makes sure there’s a clean pair of underwear (Yes, sometimes you just have to make sure there’s one)? Those are my jobs.
I want her to know this does not have to be her life. There’s a whole world out there. She’s strong and smart and we’re going to have to beat the boys away with a stick. She can do anything. Be anything. I just wonder what it says about me that I want her to want to be more than “just” a wife and mom, when that’s where I keep my own pride. Hmmmm.