I am a stay-at-home mom. This is very important to me because I was somewhat of a latch-key kid growing up. Most people either become their parents when they get older or they do the opposite. In many respects, I am my mother, for sure. But in this respect, I am doing the opposite, for sure.
My mom has taught me a lot about life, so I’m not knocking the working mother. If you can find balance in the home and still work, more power your way. But I’m more of an all or nothing girl, like my own mother, I suppose. She was mostly about work when I was growing up. Even now, at That Number in front of a 4, she is in nursing school preparing to be an R.N. in the near future. She is happiest when she is accomplishing something in her work.
To those that know me, I’m sure it is no shock that I decided to dedicate myself to staying at home rather than pursuing a professional life. Or that I didn’t try and do both. My background is advertising and public relations. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from a small school in Milledgeville, Georgia. I worked mostly for one small ad agency for the time I was working for someone else. I also briefly owned and operated a newsletter company in my 20s where I designed, wrote and mailed newsletters for dentists to send to their patients to promote their products and services. Writing is my passion, but public relations is not. Neither is advertising. So it wasn’t that hard to give up my job and stay at home after my first child was born. I do miss the money though, no doubt about it.
I still have passion, like anyone that gets up and takes themselves to an office every day and loves what they do. Of course I love being a mom. That’s a different kind of passion though. Something I didn’t really count on when I took the job. The difference, I have found, in a stay-at-home mom and a working mother is that the working mom is always trying to carve out time for her children while the stay-at-home mom is always trying to carve out time for herself. You might have time to take the kids to the zoo on a week day when it is less crowded, but when you come home those kids better get their behinds in the bed for a nap because if you have to hear one more scream, screech or asking for candy for the twentieth time (when they haven’t even had lunch yet) you are going to explode. This is the effect of spending days on end with children without much of a break – the exploding, for me, happens much more frequently when I have not had even 10 minutes to myself (or that is what it feels like) for a few days.
Staying at home has its rewards, but it is not the same as finding a calling, like say, writing, where a person’s individual talents might stand out and the public might say, “Wow, great job.” Mostly, as a mom, you hear things like, “Wow. Could your children be any louder in this quiet restaurant?” Or, “You let your kids do what?” Not saying I don’t hear compliments, but for the most part parenting is a job where others seem to feel free to let you know exactly what you do not do right (in the eyes of the beholder) rather than letting you know they admire what you are doing well.
I believe this is why when the kids get into school and there are lots of mommy volunteers we often go overboard. For instance, you might have a classroom party where a mom was a former caterer for dinner parties. You might end up with food that is somewhat elaborate for a three year old. Sandwiches cut out into turkeys and pilgrims for Thanksgiving, cupcakes that look like Martha Stewart herself created them into reindeer for Christmas, Goody Bags that are not bags at all, but sand buckets overflowing with all kinds of new stuff to add to the toy collection, complete with a laminated luggage tag just for your child. Former lawyers make the greatest class moms. They are concise with their mission, ready to take on multiple tasks and fired up for the next gig. They’re good.
My own overzealousness comes out in the class newsletter I help produce each month for my daughter’s three-year old class. I love to create a theme with great colors and pick the perfect font to go with it. Once, when another mom didn’t know it was me that designs the newsletters, she said, “Who does those things anyway? Does she not have anything else to do?” She was one of the working moms. I raised my hand and said, “Well, I guess I do have other things to do, like laundry, and my kitchen is trashed, I could grocery shop, or tidy up that junk drawer that is overflowing (again), but the newsletter is so much more fun.”
To the reader of those newsletters it might be just another class bulletin, but to me it is an opportunity to use my skills where these days I do not have too many outlets. I love to create my kids’ birthday invitations and our family Christmas cards. Anything I can do to express myself I take that opportunity and run like the wind.
Maybe one day I will go to work again, earning the bucks and having more money to burn, but I suppose for now I will play. That’s a good way to express how I feel about my job now. I might be the driver, the maid, the laundress, the cook and even a psychologist, but I am also allowed the freedom to play – writing anything I want and going overboard at the school when they let me. It’s a pretty good life, I must say. I’ll take happiness anywhere I can find it. And more often than not, I find it in the small things, like creative expression.