I logged onto Facebook (that great black hole of wasted time) and a friend had posted this:
The lululemon-stay-at-home-mother. Good god, I am a cliche.
As I sat there reading the article, and as I sit typing this, I am wearing a lulu yoga top with a lulu running skirt. The only non-lulu item is my Holiday Lake finisher’s shirt….a testament to the fact that I clearly have enough time on my hands to train for and run an ultramarathon. I am stressed out right now about making enough casseroles for next week’s PTA fundraiser. I’ve dropped the ball on several volunteer commitments. I feel like Physical Therapy and massages are taking up too much of my mornings. I am starting to hate me too…
…And I have a feeling I’m not the only one rolling eyes at this image. A lot has been blogged lately about the whole stay-at-home v. working mom divide. The way I see it, it breaks out into three camps.
- SAHMs have no idea the sacrifices that working moms make. Working moms have to do all the “mom” stuff while also balancing the needs of a demanding boss/client/career. Not everyone has the luxury to stay at home all day. Its worth the sacrifice because we can give our children more opportunities that come with financial stability.
2. Working moms have no idea how hard it is to be at home. SAHMs sacrifice a higher standard of living/autonomy/self expression for their family – a sacrifice that’s not always acknowledged or appreciated. Its worth the sacrifice because we are building a stronger family unit.
3. Motherhood is HARD. Let’s just acknowledge that its a challenge for us all, and start supporting (rather than judging) each other. (For the record, I am solidly in camp #3. My working mom friends are rock stars and balancers, and they are GREAT mothers. My stay-at-home moms are fantastic jugglers, and they are GREAT mothers too. Party on, sisters!)
I’m not here to rehash this debate – it’s been discussed beautifully here. I just want to share my story.
I spend a lot of time talking, writing, whining about the problems I have as a runner. What’s harder for me is to discuss the problems I have as a mother. See, the running problems are physical. A poor diet, poor training, or insufficient recovery leads to burn out and injury. A genetic flaw (i.e. uneven leg lengths) causes a gait problem. These aches, pains, and setbacks have no bearing on who I am as a person, a mother, a wife, daughter, or friend.
But the mothering issues…whoa – that gets right at my moral failings. My quick tempered-lack of patience-yelling-disorganization-messiness-laziness-inattention-helicoptering.
I live in fear that my neighbors and friends will realize that I am a horrible mom that yells at her kids. I weep when I think of how I am screwing my children up, and how it will take years of therapy for them to get over the mom who always in a hurry.
The cloud of depression darkens over the bedtime hour, when the accumulated stories, hugs, songs, cuddles, glasses of water, and kisses are not enough and at 9 pm they are still competing for my attention.
I have a really good life. My husband is a strong man, who provides for us all. But his job is stressful, and our partnership has evolved with parenthood. He gets to be the fun dad in the mornings, playing guitar and walking to the school bus. In the evening, he’s home in time to see them before bed, but he usually falls asleep before they are settled. I do not begrudge him this at all.
But it means that 95% of the parenting is mine. All of the AWESOME stuff: giggles, wiggly teeth, play dates, dress up, drawing, walking through the parks, baking cookies, and decorating for the holidays – I see this through the girls’ eyes. First steps, first words, the thrill of learning something new – I am there. But, I’m also there for the nasty parts of parenting – the tantrums, time-outs, night terrors. The bickering, jealousy, and competition. I define the boundaries, and constantly patrol them. My kids are young, and their every need – from runny noses to glasses of milk – I must meet. I do not begrudge them this at all.
But I get tired. My husband doesn’t always understand (in the moment) what I do behind the scenes to keep our world spinning. My girls don’t yet see that I can not be everything to all of them at all times (Sorry, honey, I can’t….
watch your rendition of the Star Spangled Banner while
getting your sister her fifth snack of the hour while
changing the baby’s diaper while
pulling the dog off the wheels of the UPS truck while
explaining to my mom on the phone that I haven’t had a chance to email her a family picture while
texting your father that he needs to bring milk on his way home tonight. )
This is why I run.
Which brings be back to the lululemon mom. According to this stereotype, she takes her children to school, unloading them with grace and patience. She then grabs a cup of coffee with a friend, before heading to the gym for Pilates with her personal trainer (this explains why she has retained her looks and pre-pregnancy weight). She then heads off to lunch with the ladies, before her daily grooming appointment (waxing, hair, or nails – take your pick).
But probably not. (It’s like saying that every woman who heads to work in a business suit takes a private corporate jet to the board meeting, where the executives are served lunch flown in from Paris).
I tend to think that, for most of us, days are a blend of highs and lows** Maybe the baby didn’t sleep, and the toddler is throwing a tantrum. Maybe an ill-timed stomach bug means someone has to skip school. Perhaps the boss is being unreasonable, or an important meeting means you’ll miss the school play. But somedays that is balanced by having coffee with a friend. Or laughing over lunch with co-workers.
We wear the clothes that our jobs require. Personally, I’ve traded in my power suits for power yoga. I can keep up with MagPie and JuneBug much better in garments that stretch and breathe. And I am OK with that.
** I feel like I need to caveat the hell out of this post. I know I do not speak for those who straddle the poverty line. For the single or divorcing parents, for those caring for sick or dying children/parents. There is an incredible amount of pain and suffering in the world, and I ache for those of you enduring such heartbreaks. Similarly, I do not speak for the elite. Those women who have ample help and support. Who have the luxury to plan and control each moment of their day, free from worry or compromise. You must have excellent karma.