There’s no shame in whatever life choices we make as human beings, and especially as women.
Some of us work full time, some work part time, and some work non-stop as stay at home mom’s. Regardless of which choice we make, there is nothing to defend, and no one that requires an explanation.
Regardless of which path one may walk down in life, we each have our challenges and we each have choices, forks in the road if you will, about what we can and cannot opt for in certain situations.
As for me, I am a full time working mother. I’ve never been a part time employee nor a stay at home mom, so I cannot speak to either of those experiences. What I can speak to, and choose to do so here today, is the balance that surmises my own life choices.
First, I am a wife.
Funny thing, shortly after becoming a mother I considered myself a mother first and foremost. I think it’s hard in the beginning to think of yourself as anything more than a mother, and it’s equally hard to love someone more than the tiny creature in your arms. That was definitely the path I was marching down and did not regret anything about that choice. Then I heard, and I wish I recall where, that I needed to be a wife first and mother second. Upon hearing this I vehemently disagreed, unable and unwilling to hear a message contrary to how I was living my life, but the message sunk in deep enough that I pondered it for a long time, and I eventually came to agree.
Motherhood is eternal, but your children are with you, inside your home, being raise by you, for a fleeting period of time. Your spouse however isn’t going anywhere. They were with you before, are with you during, and will be with you after the child is grown and gone. Because of this you need to foster and care for that relationship, after all, life can be long, and you want to be devoted to the person with whom you’re spending that lifetime.
Additionally, you and your spouse set the example of family, marriage, and more. I can say a lot here about how the child can understand this and not play the parents against each other, which must be taught. I can also say about seeing an example of devotion, etc. I can also say a lot about grounding in faith. These things however would make me sound like a parenting expert which I’m not so I won’t go there. I will say though that my child knows my husband and I are completely devoted to each other, love and respect one another, and protect each other in all ways. We’re not perfect by a long shot, but we both hope we are setting a positive example of two partners traveling life together hand in hand.
Second, I am a mother.
I love being a mom. Truly. I get chocked up at the very thought of this gift and how amazing it is. From his first kick, to how he used to turn through my back (which was excruciating), to the surreal experience of his birth and his first screams, to that connection, that innate knowledge that I was his and he was mine. Whatever this road holds, ranging from awe inspiring to challenging, I am beyond blessed that I get to be his mom and bear witness to the life he has and will continue to lead. It is inspiring, beautiful and it is my honor and privilege to get to experience it.
Third, I am an employee.
I remember once telling my husband one rainy Sunday as I crawled into the nook of his arm while he watched football, that I actually had wanted to be a kept woman. His retort was, “Well then, you shouldn’t have gone to grad school.” I couldn’t deny the truth in those words. I did choose that path, and I have fought hard for the career that I have. As a result I have responsibilities and obligations. I am required to perform and perform well. I am required to live up to certain defined expectations and not disappoint. This is 8 am to 5 pm, at a minimum, five days a week.
Fourth, I am an advocate.
Sometimes this seems to take the place of 1-3 above, but honestly it’s in 4th place. It has to be. There’s nothing above that it can trade places with without great cost, and that’s a cost my family and I are unwilling to bear.
But, here’s the thing. My calling in life is to be an advocate, so I work as hard as I can to make it work and find balance, and still give all I can to 1-4 above. This, however, has some trade offs that pull at my heart and make me wish things were different.
Because of 1-3 above I cannot work as a full time advocate. I cannot go sit in IEP meetings and defend other parents. I do on the very odd occasion, but I can’t do it for everyone who asks me to, or wish they could ask me to because they already know I can’t. I can’t go to a lot of conferences, seminars, training sessions or classes I wish I could attend, whether in person or on-line because they’re during the work / school week. I can’t support legislation or testify like I wish I could because that requires travelling and again, that’s during the work / school week. I can’t go do a lot of things I wish I could do because that path is simply not open to me. I have no choice but to be strategic in what I do, when I do it, or in what manner I do it.
I give as much of myself as I can, and what I give irritates my family. In the evenings they want my attention, and they deserve my attention, so I do my best to turn it all off and be present. My child has no desire to be the poster boy for dyslexia and I do all I can to keep his face and name away from anyone’s attention. He wishes I didn’t do anything related to dyslexia at all. He respects me for what I do, but he doesn’t want me to do it still. He understands I can’t stop, and when he gets older I expect it to come to a head, but I hope it won’t.
I admit, I get jealous of those who can drop things on a dime and go do the things I can’t, but I also know that’s not my path. We each have a part to play and different times that we play them, and if we are all working together for change than our actions should be harmonious. Nothing about the advocacy life is about fame. Yes, some people pursue that, but they’re misguided and won’t last long because people will figure out their truth and push them out of the community. Some voices are loud, some are soft, but in harmony, all are powerful.
Do I wish I could do more? Yes. Does that mean I do nothing? No. I do me, and I give all I can give and more.
So, Sister, whatever form your advocacy takes, do it. Nothing about this is a competition, or at least it shouldn’t be. Do you! Be you! Be proud and be loud!
Together, regardless of what order our priorities are, we will change the world!