So, what does that make ME?

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Miss America.  I had no higher aspirations, I just really, really, wanted to be Miss America.

But that little girl grew up.  And she started paying attention to the world around her.  And she conformed.

I mean, my Mom worked, and she didn’t need a man to help HER.  I certainly would never be beholden to anyone.  I would earn my own ticket, I would change the world, I would be WONDER woman.

I’m sitting at my desk, I’m 16, AP English.  The Principal is talking to us about something or another and he lets loose that his wife is a stay-at-home Mom, and how that’s an important thing for his family.  If looks could kill he would be dead from the daggers shooting from my eyes.  PIG!

Oh.  If 16-year-old me could see 36-year-old me.

I was a scrappy one.  I worked my way through college, graduating in three years with honors.  I practically forced my interviewer to let me into his top-tier Business School after my prerequisite 2 years of “real world” experience.

$50,000 later, I graduate.  And I meet a man.

I certainly didn’t go out looking for it, that’s for sure.  But I met him.  I met “the one”, and we fell madly in love and got married.  I quit my job and moved to the middle of nowhere and I took a less-prestigious job, but we were in LOVE.  Then he got transferred overseas, I had trouble finding work at all let alone work that was ‘good enough’ for someone of my caliber.  Then I got pregnant, and I haven’t seen the inside of an office since.

That’s just life.  It doesn’t generally turn out the way we think or hope it will.

Thank God.

So, this brilliant girl who had brilliant aspirations, who has fancy degrees from lovely Universities, spends her days sweeping the halls and washing the sheets and cooking the meals.  It ain’t glamorous work.  Any Mom can tell you that.

It’s down-right degrading.

Isn’t it?

Should I be embarrassed that I made the choices I did?  I didn’t become an Astronaut or the President of the United States.

I tried, I really did, and I failed.  My husband and I couldn’t both have careers.  He travels too much, someone had to stay at home to be the rock, to hold down the fort.

But this means that, GASP!  I mop my own floors.  It’s true.  And my daughter should be ashamed.  Because instead of buying her a “Doctor Barbie”, I’ve obviously purchased her one of  “the worst toys for girls”.

So, you see the source of my rant.

BY THE WAY.  Children mimic us.  They like to.  I sweep, my daughter wants to help.

I don’t know who these super-powered women who do it all are.  The ones who have a happy family, happy husband, high-powered career.  I don’t particularly want to know her if she exists, though I’m PRETTY SURE SHE DOESN’T.  All of my friends who have careers spend their days riddled with guilt that they don’t spend enough time with their familes.  The other gals spend their days riddled with remorse that they just couldn’t do it all.

And they are bent over vacumming up goldfish all day long.

And their daughters are ‘helping’ and they are learning.

Is it so wrong?  Why can’t it be good enough to aspire to be a wife and a Mother?

Because I think all I and my female contemporaries feel like, is shit.



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6 responses to “So, what does that make ME?

  1. It totally depends on who you permit to be your judge and jury. To those who really matter, it is not only good enough, it’s amazing.

    You have a thankless but gloriously crucial job, nurturing young lives into maturity. I have a young teen friend who has no mother. She’s a train wreck. She would tell you that having a mom there all the time is the most important thing in the world, because she has never had that and she perpetually feels the hole that its left in her life.

  2. My mom worked full time since I was 6 weeks old. When I was in high school, and even in college, I thought it was my right to work. But after college, I worked full time for 6 months. This was when Taylor was 2.5 to 3 years old. I barely remember anything from that time period, in regards to my family. It was my right to work, but I realized I hated it. Some days I feel like what I do is pointless, but you know what? We are home, and our “job” has great significance. I had my children because I wanted to raise them. I didn’t want someone else to raise them. God entrusted me with them. I might not be awesome at it, but I’m doing the best I can. Another thing I remind myself of often is that marriage is about teamwork. We both have roles. One isn’t better than the other. Both are equally important, just different. Like the line Tom Cruise made famous, we complete each other. Andy couldn’t do what he does without me fulfilling my role, and vice versa. When you are old, I doubt you will look back with regret that you didn’t work a power job. If anything, you will probably wish you had spent even more time with your kids. And for what it’s worth, I think you’re amazing.

  3. Evan

    I have to remind myself (several times a day!) that this is a season. Everyone says they grow up fast. We’re counting on it because we have more plans 🙂

    * Well said, Lori and Lisa!

  4. Evan

    I thought about your words all night, Jess. If you ask my kids what I do all day, they would say clean, cook, and take naps (ha!). However, when I think back about what MY mom did all day, I remember now that she cooked, cleaned, took (very short) naps but THEN, she went back to school for a graduate degree and worked part-time. She involved us in her studying too. She would practice her speech therapy games with us and take us to the office to try out the hearing test equipment. I’m sure we only went once or twice to the office as kids, but it was memorable.

    I can’t believe how much I admire that now. I want to involve my kids in what I like to do and show them how to study in school and get a job, and further, enjoy and get BETTER at that job.

    Matt’s even so awesome as to watch the kids while I work. Either at home or running around town. And he tells the kids what I’m doing. They see him go to work and they see me working (not a lot, but enough that they know I work outside the kitchen.) My cousin is a stay-at-home Dad and his wife is a doctor. I hope my girls consider that one day too. Even if it’s unlikely, I hope they know it’s an option. How liberating is it knowing you have a choice.

    I’ve chosen the life of cleaning up poop and goldfish FOR NOW. And you should have seen the blow-out we had this morning in the girl’s room. OMG. Maybe I’m talking more to myself now than you, but your post really hit home. 🙂

  5. Evan

    Oh and BY THE WAY…. Seriously, what will you be more proud of when you’re 80 years old, a successful career or successful children?

    Hurricane Tankersley, enough said!!

  6. AJC

    When I first stayed home with my son, I felt so guilty. I felt like I was going out and spending money (even though I just went grocery shopping – never anything extravagant) and contributing nothing. Then we opened a business and I was working more than full time all of a sudden.

    So now, I don’t get the time with my son or my husband that I want, and my husband has to pick up all the slack of errands, cooking, and cleaning. When he’s keeping my son while I work, he’s either too busy or too exhausted to teach him the things he wants to teach him. When I’m keeping my son I’m preparing for the work day.

    Only now do I understand the contributions me staying home made – making life easier on my husband so he could do his job happily and come home and relax. Hopefully I will be staying home again in a few months, and I will view it from a much different (and better) perspective. I won’t be able to say proudly I’m a small business owner, but I will be proud to know I am giving my husband and son everything they need.

    I love this blog. So much of this is not said enough, and I completely agree with you.

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