I see it everywhere nowadays. The same message, in a variety of different wordings. The same reassurances made to women again and again. The message: it’s ok if you feel like you don’t have it all together. It’s ok to cry about a bad day. It’s ok to write off today as a failure, you’ll do better tomorrow. It’s ok to just serve the kids ice cream tonight, you’re not a bad mom. “You’ve got this, mama!”
I used to wonder what was wrong with me. Why is it that I feel like I have it “all together”? Why do I never, ever feel the need to cry about a bad day (not to say I never cry, although…)? Why do I never feel that a day was a failure? Why have I never, ever served my kids ice cream because I just couldn’t get a dinner on the table (I’ll admit I’ve done cereal when in my first trimester, though). Why do I never feel like I’m a bad mom? Apparently women the world over are feeling every day that they are bad moms. Why do they feel that, and why do I not?
Is it because I’m arrogant?
No, I have decided it is not.
I think a large part of it is due to my decision to be 100% mom. My husband and I decided together that I would be 100% a mother. Yes, I work from home a little bit, but I don’t have a career. I chose not to have a career, because I wanted a family (because WE wanted a family).
That’s the lie, you see. The lie we’ve been told is that you can “do it all” – you can have your career and your family, too, and somehow you can give both of these things your all, which would mean that you have 200% of yourself to give. The math nerd in me is so irritated by this.
It’s a lie. It is SUCH a lie.
No wonder women need the constant affirmation that they’re doing great and they “got this.” They don’t! They’re being torn apart by our culture, which is telling them they can be a great, present, mom who is focused on raising her kids and being there for them and kissing their boo-boos while ALSO being a focused, ambitious, driven career woman who is climbing the ladder and deserves to be CEO.
It’s absolutely ludicrous.
And let’s just be clear here: it’s not that dratted patriarchy that’s screaming this lie at us. It’s feminism. Patriarchy, back in the 50s before the dawn of women who no longer wanted doors held open for them or men paying for dinner (thanks, feminism! I just love having to open my own doors and pay for my own meals! what a giant leap for womankind! Thank goodness I found a man who still believes in chivalry!), was more than happy for us to stay home while the men went to their long, laborious jobs and brought home the metaphorical [kosher] bacon for us all to eat and enjoy.
If you could just step back and think about it objectively, rationally, logically, you would see. You would agree. It’s just so obvious.
If your career is important, and it’s important to you to advance and climb that corporate ladder, than you are putting your heart and soul into it. You’re getting there early, maybe. You’re making yourself valuable. You’re not wasting your company’s time by surfing your social media when you should be working. You’re using all the minutes in your work day to bring value to yourself and value to your company.
If your family is important, and it’s important to you that your children advance in life, school, and work, than you are putting your heart and soul into them. You’re getting up early. You’re making yourself valuable to them (maintaining your value, actually). You’re not wasting those precious moments that are so fleeting by surfing your social media when you should be pausing to admire your daughter’s artwork or helping your son build a lego airplane. You’re using all the minutes in your day to give to your children the love they deserve. The mom they deserve.
This post has been on my mind for a while because I see people and I know people who are truly struggling with this guilt they feel, that they aren’t really “there” for their kid(s), that they can’t be present for the special moments (“can’t” being their word, not mine). They feel guilty about it, but our culture is telling them they shouldn’t. Our culture is telling them they should feel amazing, like they’ve reached some kind of pinnacle – I have a career AND I’m a mom! I’m so amazing! I’m “doing it all!” But the reality, which hits them like a ton of bricks once they actually have a baby, is that if they’re honest with themselves, they know that they really aren’t there. The little baby they have fallen in love with, and who has fallen in love with them, will get to know his nanny, his grandmother, or his daycare workers a lot better than his own mother, simply because he’ll spend way more time with them. The daycare worker will watch him take his first steps and say his first word, unless he happens to time it on a weekend.
I don’t want to put down the moms out there who genuinely need to work because there isn’t another option. But really, there so often is.
I wanted to be a mom for a while before our son came along. And now that I am a mom, a mom of three, I can tell you that it takes all of you. It saps all your energy, time, creativity, patience, and brain cells. That’s because I am giving it my all. ALL my energy. ALL my time. ALL my creativity. Quite frankly, and without bragging, I think this makes me a really great mom. But don’t try to tell me that I could be working an eight-hour day at some office job and still be the mom that I am right now. It’s simply not possible.
Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” I really feel like that is something our culture (or, feminism, mostly) is pressuring women not to do. You can be two places at once, they say. You can be Supermom AND you can be in line for a promotion at work. The reality is that when you try to divide yourself like that, one of those things is going to suffer. And, unfortunately, I see on my social media and even with some people I know – the thing that suffers is the kids. Somehow, they reason to themselves that they need to work, they need to do this job, probably because they feel like no one could quite do the job as wonderfully as they can. But what’s the truth? The kids, being their mom…THAT’S the job that no one can do as wonderfully as they can. That’s the position they hold in which they are absolutely irreplaceable. But because our culture has wrapped up a woman’s value in what it says on her business card, she feels like she can outsource the momming, because no one can run a company like she can.
You have to choose. For me, it’s an easy choice. Raising a child, making sure they always know they are loved, teaching them how to live godly, successful lives, helping them find their place in the world – what could possibly be more fulfilling and important than that? By shaping their little minds and hearts, I touch the future. No other job could compare.