I’m taking a break from my Desperate Motherhood series to admit something to the little world that reads my blog.
I love being a woman.
You see, I graduated high school in the early 70’s when roaring women declared, “I am strong, I am invincible. I am WOMAN!” One commercial sang of bringing home the bacon, fryin’ it up in the pan but also never letting you forget you’re a man. The American Feminist movement did some really good things. But I’m not the only woman (young at the time) who was tempted to subtly apologize that I wanted to be married and have babies rather than necessarily divide my heart and time to climb the corporate ladder.
My last full time job taught me that my choices weren’t going to be applauded by all. When I turned down a promotion to dry heave over my own toilet with pregnancy nausea rather than the one at the office, my supervisor pulled me aside. She questioned my decision and emphasized the significance of the company President offering me this promotion. She mildly chastised me for working hard during my time with the company, only to bail when a great opportunity came up. I have reviewed her final question repeatedly over the years:
“Do you really want to waste your talents being a stay-at-home mom? I think you’re gonna regret this.”
I respected her. She had made an investment into me and was now facing me getting a promotion she wanted. I was embarrassed for her and self-concious about my decision. Benny and I had discussed this at length and after five years of infertility I just wanted to stay home with my baby. I just knew it wouldn’t be a waste I would later regret.
Until I did it.
Over the past nearly 35 years I have wondered on more than a few occasions if wiping bottoms and sucking snot out of noses with that horrendous syringe and playing three hundred rounds of CandyLand and gashing my feet with left-behind legos and scarfing down pbnj crusts for lunch was wasting my “talents.” Yeah, I wrote a couple of books along the way and spoke to women about loving God and family. But I’ve spent the majority of 3 1/2 decades cleaning and cooking and refereeing and — I admit it — counting the minutes till nap or bedtime. I’ve watched my peers make enough money to get tucked and have personal trainers and drive cool cars while I’ve fought discouragement over having to buy a size bigger and try for the umpteenth time to start exercising and cut on groceries to make sure gas money for the minivan would last till Benny’s next paycheck.
I look at myself and see the battle scars. I’m chubbier than I’d like to be. (But, hey, I’ve lost probably 150 pounds in the past 10 years…well…losing and gaining here and there.) My aging body freaks me out sometimes when the mirror reflection reminds me I’m not young and trim anymore. I’m covering my gray to protect some allusion of youthfulness and try not to embarrass my kids with what I wear.
But I honestly have no regrets. None.
I don’t regret turning down that promotion to waste my life. I wasted it rocking sleeping babies until the warmth and calm of snuggling a newborn made me have to put them down before I nodded off and dropped them. Rejoicing over teeth coming in and then being yanked out years later. Reaching for chubby outstretched arms that longed for Mommy’s embrace. Fulfilling my desire to be a teacher my cuddling on the couch teaching seven people how to read. (Okay, Jaime, I know you take credit for teaching Jake.) Cutting out paper dolls; making ponytails and braids; shopping for wedding dresses; and watching Benny give our little girls away. Being hugged by teen boys who weren’t embarrassed to show Mom affection when they’re friends were around. Packing snacks and driving all over Northern Virginia and Central Florida to cheer at hundreds of basketball games. And watching my children become Mommy and Daddy to adorable little ones with whom they’ll waste their lives.
Stay-at-home moms don’t have the market on motherhood. Working moms can waste your life doing all the same things, plus battle the guilt of wondering if you’re doing enough. I’m a working mom these days and even today I had to turn down helping a friend decorate for her daughter’s wedding because some last minute work responsibilities called my name.
I’m sitting here fighting tears because I miss wasting my life with little ones. But gratefully, when they leave home to wed the love of their life they reproduce, and I recently bought an entire trash bag full of Polly Pockets at a yard sale so little girls could trash my playroom with hundreds of tiny shoes and dolls and clothes.
I’m still wasting my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
P.S. This is day four of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.