Just Mommy

I loved my second grade teacher. She had long, (bottle) blonde hair, and a sweet smile. Not only was she beautiful to me, but she had a clothesline strung across the classroom with stuffed animals and Hot Wheels clipped to it for bribing her students to work. A certain number of books read equaled a beautiful stuffed animal or doll in my pudgy little hands. Come to think of it, I loved my 5th grade teacher from the bottom of my heart, too, and she was also pretty handy with the prizes. We may be onto something here..

Anyway, I digress. Where were we? Oh, yeah. My teacher broke my heart.

She didn’t do anything mean, really. She just asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. She had us write about it, actually. My paper went something like this:

When I grow up, I want to be a mommy. I think I’d be good at it. I’d like lots of children.

Maybe there was more to it than that. I don’t remember. I turned in my paper, with the requisite poorly-drawn picture to illustrate. Instead of marking it with the usual red check-mark and smiley face, Miss Dixon called me to her desk.

“What else?”

I didn’t know what she meant, so I just looked at her with that slack-jawed, confused look that I still get when I’m dumbfounded. (That’s about twice a day, if you wondered.) She tried again. “What else do you want to be when you grow up? Mommy isn’t enough.”

I took my paper back to my seat and pondered for a moment. I was a sensitive child, and my feelings were more than a little hurt. What did she mean, what else? Mommy is BIG. Mommy is the whole world! It really was all I cared to be.

Being a second-grader, and not at all indoctrinated in philosophies of homemaking and childrearing, I didn’t argue. I struggled to come up with something else to write. Tears in my eyes (yeah, I was a wuss), I finally settled on saying I’d like to become a nurse. Nurses are like mommies, but with thermometers, right?

I never really wanted to be a nurse, of course, but it was the answer I gave when asked this all-important question for the rest of my school years. Sometimes, just to shake things up, I said I’d like to be a doctor. I really did have an interest in medicine, and a good head for science, so it could have happened if I’d had any encouragement at all. I used to be a little bit bitter about the fact that no one cared what I did with my life or tried to encourage me in my studies. Now I wonder if God didn’t put blinders on the people around me to keep them from seeing my potential to do “more”.

My teacher thought she was doing the right thing in encouraging me to think outside the stuffy old traditional box, I’m sure. For all I know, she may have thought I needed her to help me shake off the tyranny of the patriarchy. But I didn’t appreciate being told I should do more than be wife and mother. What I felt, in that wordless way kids have of understanding things, was that there was something unjust about a world that didn’t think “mommy” was enough.

I grew, but that ambition my teacher was trying to instill in me didn’t. Thanks to her “guidance”, I grew up knowing I had to do something else with my life. Like everyone else, I learned to think of “mother” as something you become after you’ve proven that you can do grown-up stuff.

After high school I got a job. Then another. Then another. All my jobs involved changing adult diapers and administering meds in rest homes and group homes. I even started nursing school, but quit in despair. I hated it. Nursing is a calling, and I was decidedly not called. The book-work was easy enough, but the job itself made me want to scream. The one thing I knew for certain was that you should never, ever scream at sick people, so I packed it up and went home.

They say God draws straight with crooked lines. Through a series of bad choices I ended up jobless and without any desire to find a new job, or even to live at all. If it hadn’t been for all the dumb mistakes I made in high school and beyond, I’d probably have a “fulfilling” career by now. Instead, thanks to His mercy, I’m rejoicing in my growing family, filling the role of help-meet to a faithful and hard-working man, and looking forward to a life of (cover your eyes, feminists) submission to God’s will–and my husband’s.

The only problem is, I wasn’t trained to this! I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to roll up my sleeves and get down to the business of homemaking. No one told me there was this much work to do, or how many different plates I was going to have to spin at one time. There wasn’t anyone to tell me all this, because I didn’t actually know any homemakers. This is the job that I was told wasn’t enough to keep a woman’s mind active and her spirit content? Seriously?

I’ve learned the hard way how to run my household and raise my children, and I’m going to pass along to my own daughter what I’ve learned, whether she has other ambitions or not. When she feels home and marriage pulling her from the working world (should she ever enter it), I’m going to make sure she doesn’t spend the first two years of it twiddling her thumbs and wondering exactly what she’s supposed to be doing with all this “free” time. Or worse, ignoring the most beautiful vocation on Earth because someone told her “Mommy’s not enough.”

Responses:

  1. We share a similar journey. I am so thankful to the Lord for his mercy! I love being a mommy and a wife and I am living my dream. It’s very hard! However, it is so very worth it! Can’t wait to check out the site!

  2. I love this, Cindy! Even though I have gone on to become a WAHM, I still regard my job as mommy to be the most important role of my life! If I’m not doing that, everything else can go.

    You are an awesome Mommy, and that is enough!

    PS. Little Pea says she’s going to have 20 hundred kids. ;)

  3. Ma’am, you are a rebel at the cutting edge of the counter culture.

    I expect that’s something else you didn’t expect to be. : )

  4. A great post that shows how they start crushing the spirit of kids so young in our school systems. Too bad you can’t send this post back to that teacher!

  5. Thanks for dropping by my place! I’ve got you on my roll.
    I wish I had homeschooled my first from the beginning. I had to pull her out half way through second grade after witnessing troubling assignments like you describe, plus she started fantasizing about unionizing second grade.

    Well, better get back to it!

  6. For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a mum. All jobs before that were just a way of ‘filling in time’ before I started my dream ‘job’. And I do love it. It’s hard work though, but certainly the most rewarding ‘job’ I’ve ever had!

  7. Thanks for posting this…

    I’m a SAHM of soon to be 5 and hopefully not the last. I don’t think ppl understand this is a job…I mean the house doesn’t run itself.
    I am raising my daughters to be good God fearing, loving submissive wives.
    I was saddened the other day when my daughter came home from visiting w/the EX inlaws….her grandmother asked what she wanted to be and she said ‘a mommy just like my mom with lots of kids’ to which the reply was…’nooo you need a real job….’ it crushed my 9 yr old and she cried. She knows the hard work i put into a day and knows the wonderful rewards too!

    I didn’t have the heart to tell her i dealt w/those comments from them when i was married to her father too.

    another example…a few years ago i was in a mediation w/said ex and the judge/mediator (was a woman) asked me my profession and I said i stay home…she told me that my children would benefit more from me working outside the home like her children did with her.

    needless to say i kept my mouth shut…b/c calling her an idiot wouldn’t have been appropriate! but i realized we are surrounded by many brainwashed little girls who grow up to be brainwashed woman believing staying home to care for your family is not worthy or fulfilling!

    thanks for the post

  8. I have to say I was just the opposite growing up, I thought I could never handle being a full time mom, that I would NEED a profession to feel fufilled. My mom worked fulltime until I was in high school and I’m sure that was part of it, plus my parents were divorced (as were my grandparents and even my great grandparents) . But I was also driven, really driven. Until I became pregnant at 16. Under great pressure I terminated the pregnancy and continued with “my dreams.” Fell into great depression and became suicidal. After getting help I became functional again continued with schooling with no real purpose and worked to support myself. But I had no real ambition. At 25 I was pregnant again and every time changed. I still had to work, for over a year after his birth. But after my second was born just 13 months later, I was able to take 6 months off. There is nothing I would rather do that be home full time with my kids. I would still do the volunteer work that I do now but the job, for the paycheck…I’d give it up in a heartbeat if I could. Unfortunately, my husband has been unemployed for years. But while I’ll never claim being home was easy, I didn’t spend much time with my feet up eating bon bons but almost all of the stuff I did then, i still do, just with 40+ fewer hours to do it.
    So I’m 100% for women being home full time, if they are able, its certainly where I’d be. However I do tire of sahm’s complaining about never having the time, especially ones with only school age children who somehow don’t have the time to do any volunteer work at all…I’m really unsure what they’re doing with their time.

    • I’m sorry you’ve got such a tough row to hoe! Everyone’s circumstance is different, of course, and there is simply no way a woman can stay home without her husband’s whole-hearted support. I’m not sure where the “no time” thing comes from, since I don’t know any SAHM’s who don’t consider taking care of those things you say they claim not to have time for to be part of the job description. OTOH, and I hope I can say this without offending you, since I’m sure you do the best you can with your circumstances, if you’re working outside the home 40+ hours a week, those are 40 hours a week someone else is having to do the mom thing for you. How you organize your life is your business, and if you have to be the breadwinner, then that’s between you and your husband. But what you’re really saying is that you do a mom’s job and a 40+, too. Which isn’t, strictly speaking, possible, since we all have the same # of hours in a day, and a good homemaker is working from sunup to sundown…even out in the community when needed. What you’re doing is outsourcing.

      I certainly don’t mean to say that you’re neglecting your duties, though! You have to feed those kids somehow, and that has to come first! A SAHM with a supportive husband is truly blessed to be able to do her job in the ideal way. Working moms who have to work are in a different boat entirely and I wouldn’t dream of judging them for it. I don’t believe I can understand what they do. I don’t believe they have a clue what I’m doing either, though. Even if they stayed home at some point, unless they made a vocation of it, what they did is nothing like what I do. I have a lot to say on the subject, and I certainly think some bridges need to be built, here, so that “just mommy” can be something that working moms don’t immediately become defensive about.

  9. Thank you so much for linking to me! I’m truly honored. I can’t get over that teacher, what a terrible experience for a little girl. Like you said, I’m sure she meant to be encouraging, but why isn’t wife/mom enough? I hS lot of the same examples as you, I can’t remember a single homemaker growing up. When I became a homemaker I had no idea how to do it. It’s been a slow difficult learning process, and I’m still learning. But there is joy in the journey!

  10. I consider myself a feminist. But I am also an at-home mom, and I take that seriously. I see no contradiction. I think that we should support women to choose the role that makes their heart sing, and works best for themselves and their families. I think that telling someone that being a mom isn’t enough is actually decidedly anti-feminist. Being a mom is HARD and IMPORTANT work. Running a household is HARD and IMPORTANT work. Disparaging that is short-sighted and maybe even just plain mean.

    • Amber, I totally agree! The only way to be truly feminist is to celebrate the truly feminine! What could possibly be more feminine than homemaking and motherhood?

  11. I love this post :)

    I recently wrote the same thing, somewhere on my blog, about asking feminists to close their eyes! Too funny! So true though, that it’s looked upon as “not enough” to be a mommy.

    Will stop by again to visit.

  12. Wow. There’s nothing like shoving your agenda in the face of a seven year old. It’s unfortunate that this teacher doesn’t see the value in parenthood. And they wonder why we homeschool…

  13. Wow. Yes. This post raises hot tears of indignation at the supposed Feminists who denigrate the superhuman employment of women in raising children, caring for a family, and managing a home. The hard truth is that many women who don’t devote their full time to this job, couldn’t hack it. I am not only a homemaker in service to my husband and 3 children, but a professional parent of two high needs foster children. I cook healthy meals from scratch, I manage a busy schedule of medical, educational and counseling appointments, I am my own maid, and I direct the character and life-skills education of five young people. And I only burn out about once a month. I have had “career” jobs in four different fields, and none of them was nearly as intellectually, emotionally, and physically demanding as the one I have now.

    Do I believe women are more or less able then men? Neither. Each gender has their own particular strengths… as does each individual regardless of gender. The majority of men have more single-minded focus and physical strength, the majority of women are better able to multitask and are more resilient. Which, in my opinion, makes women usually better able to manage the extremely challenging tasks of motherhood and home management.

    As an aside, I still appreciate having had my (mostly useless) university education, but I sure wish I had been better prepared for Life.

  14. Pingback: Nobody’s Home
  15. This one is brilliant, too, Cindy. Seriously.

    My story couldn’t be more different than yours (and you’ll never see it on my blog because its central character is my mom).
    Neither of my parents wanted to get married or have children. My mom has said often and loudly that she wished she’d never had us. She wanted to have a career, and I heard her say many times that she never wanted kids.

    I grew up thinking that people who wanted to be parents were weak, bland, devoid of ambition. I grew up believing that I’d be a professional and never marry.

    But I did marry, and I did become a mother (on purpose the first time). My mother was vocally opposed. Even today, she writes things like “I hope you are happy with your decisions.” and “I hope that you get what you want.” and I know that she disapproves.
    My dad was okay with my getting married and having children – until it meant quitting my full time teaching job. Regardless of my personal feelings, he insisted that I should be a professional. He put me through college, and I’m still paying for the loans from graduate school. To him, my putting raising my children ahead of my successful career is the ultimate disappointment. Even now, we can’t talk about it. He is hurt by my decision. They both think I’m wasting my talents, my intelligence, and my education.

    By raising my children.

    I am confident in my decision. Being a mother is my calling. I feel more alive and satisfied with my life than ever before. I know that God created me to have these children and to raise them up.

    I am a feminist. I think women should have equal rights and equal choices to men. But I wish being a mother had been among my options as a kid.

    • I can’t imagine how hard it must be for your own parents to think their grandchildren are beneath your full attention. Or for that matter, what it must be like to know that your parents wouldn’t have done the same for you. My folks worked, but they kinda had to. We were poor and my dad just didn’t have the education it takes to support a family by himself (or that’s what they thought. I think it could have been done, but they didn’t know that, and I don’t blame them.) They have supported me in my choices, and I’m thankful for it. I can handle the disapproval of almost everyone but my parents. After all, if my mom hadn’t been such a big deal to me, I never would have thought “just mom” would be enough!

  16. I love your blog! This one really hit home with me. Before I started homeschooling my daughter had this exact same experience because I was a stay at home mom and she said she wanted to be like me. She was in tears and after school her teacher tried to encourage me to make my daughter see her point of view! I was furious!

  17. I just love you.

    My story is quite the opposite- my mother was always home and you could eat off her floor- she’s a fabulous cook and always looks perfectly put together – I knew I couldn’t pull that off so I ran off the other direction – until God told me to give it up and showed me that my family desperately needed me to be “just mommy” -now here we sit – both with the same belief system – acting in obedience to God and loving it! (even the hard parts)

    p.s. – My floor, my house, & my cooking can all stand to be improved – and I have NO idea how she kept her lipstick on! (but, my kids really do not care about that )

  18. This article is soo refreshing. As a mom of 6 who is home as well I appreciate this perspective

  19. Love, love, love this. I am posting this on my Facebook page. My dear, I think you and I could be friends. :)

  20. This is beautiful. I’m a man, and this is beautiful.

    Maybe it’s the way of Cindy’s. You and my wife share a name. All she ever wanted was a large family. The woman managed to mother a lost 22 year-old stepson and yet she has no children of her own.

    The world told her she was stupid. The world told he she was wrong. Her idiot first husband didn’t want children with her.

    Ladies it’s not a cliche to say motherhood is the highest calling. One of my greatest regrets is a decision I made earlier in life that has kept us from having kids. Have them. Have a bunch of them. Have as many as God will bless you with.

    And love them.

    As for my wife I see her with other peoples kids. She us the most natural, gifted and wonderful mother I have seen. Lord willing we will be able to foster or adopt.

  21. Redip – I’m not a christian, so maybe my prayers mean nothing to you, but I am so impressed with your giving heart that I will pray for you anyway. I hope your dreams come to fruition. x

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